Growth in the Electronic Age

Growth in the Electronic Age

How integration firm CG&E Systems Group built a security empire on voice and data in the 21st century

Let’s just say the timing was not ideal. GC&E Systems Group had just hired a key executive to spearhead business development and growth within Florida. But Mother Nature had different ideas. Hurricane Irma had just ravaged the entire state of Florida and the company was eager to onboard its newest management team member.

NEW TO THE TEAM

“During my first week with the company, I was scheduled to be in Atlanta to kick off key discussions and strategy building with the corporate team,” said Rob Hile, general manager of Florida, GC&E Systems. “But instead, I was completely focused on getting back home after evacuating my family out of the storm’s way. The company couldn’t have been more supportive. Our CEO called me directly and told me to focus on my family and that whatever I needed, just say the word and it would be done.”

That’s just the kind of company GC&E is and strives to continue to be. Customers satisfaction and employee empowerment are king, and it’s that exact focus that has helped the company reach its growth targets since its inception in 1999, when it was known as Georgia Network Cabling Corp.

“I decided to launch my own business, and the original business plan focused on the installation of high-speed voice and data cabling, and fiber optic backbones for organizations within the Atlanta area,” said Dan O’Sullivan, CEO, GC&E. “But after 9/11, we found that customers were just as interested in adding physical security measures. I was hesitant at first because I had little knowledge of the industry, but we agreed to install a few cameras for some existing government customers and we have been deploying these systems ever since.”

The company’s foray into physical security turned into a new business segment that complemented the network segment, especially as the convergence between physical and IT security has occurred. Today, GC&E divides its business into two divisions: GC&E’s Federal Division supports information technology, information assurance and telecommunications-related opportunities while the Commercial Division focuses on Electronic Security deployments.

“In our market, we are one of only a few firms that have the capability to provide the full lifecycle of electronic security system solutions and support services required by our customers,” O’Sullivan said. “We have the ability to provide upfront strategic consulting, support security system investment strategies and conduct vulnerability and risk assessments to ensure we are providing the right security solution to meet our customers’ business and operational security support requirements. We are forward-thinking in the application of technology as well as the integration of information assurance and cybersecurity considerations to ensure system reliability, availability and resilience.”

CUSTOMER CENTRIC

The company’s overarching goal is to become its customers’ trusted adviser so that when a security need arises, an incident happens or they require technical insight, they will contact GC&E to provide the council, guidance and support required. The company’s seasoned managers, account managers, project managers, systems engineers, estimators and technicians all have the extensive experience and expertise required to allow them to successfully pursue and execute any system integration project of any scope, size and complexity.

The organization has also invested in advanced equipment and service area capabilities, such as ESS Health Monitoring-asa- Service, a Security Operations Center that provides remote maintenance and customer support services, and its Technician Now suite of services, which include service and maintenance agreements and dispatching of technicians when required.

“GC&E has never been afraid to make investments in the future, be it through our people, embracing new technology or expanding and diversifying the products, solutions and services offered,” O’Sullivan said. “We truly believe that our employees are our No. 1 asset. Without highly qualified, talented, motivated and conscientious managers, subject matter experts and technical and administrative professionals who serve on the front-lines of our business, we would not have had the success we have been fortunate to have.”

GC&E’s seven Core Values define the businesses’ identity and culture. These values — People, Integrity, Quality, Innovation, Trust, Teamwork and Service — serve as the guiding principles on how the company makes decisions, performs work, solves problems, empowers employees and provides customer service. GC&E’s “One Team” culture sets the standard on how it operates on a day-to-day basis.

Furthermore, GC&E has a “Customer First” philosophy: the combination of quality, communication and service equals customer satisfaction. All employees follow this creed, and quality initiatives are woven throughout internal operating procedures. Proactive communication with the customer and ongoing internal communication is promoted through all levels of management and across departmental lines. Service delivery is measured and monitored to ensure expectations are met and exceeded.

“These fundamental business practices ensure customer satisfaction,” O’Sullivan said. “We do not hesitate to roll up our sleeves to support a project where an extra hand is needed or go the extra mile to keep the project on budget and schedule. We are proactive in providing ongoing and timely communication to our customers to keep them informed on the status of our work, identify issues and concerns so they are quickly resolved and ensure customer- and performance- related expectations are clearly defined and met.”

Ensuring that customers understand the benefits and potential challenges of converged security is a critical component of the company’s customer outreach initiatives. In early 2017, it hosted its inaugural Converged Security Summit (CSS), a one-day comprehensive program that brings together experts in information and physical security to discuss best practices and countermeasures to safeguarding IT infrastructure and information assets. In addition, the event allows GC&E an opportunity to highlight its solutions, services and support offerings, including proven solutions for perimeter security, intrusion protection and personal safety in public and private sectors.

“It is important for us to help drive conversation around today’s most prevalent industry issues. This year’s CSS provided our attendees the perfect opportunity to network, share ideas and learn from subject-matter experts, vendors and other industry professionals ways to better manage and mitigate risks associated with information and physical security assets,” O’Sullivan said. “We envision CSS to be a key part of our customer and industry engagement strategy moving forward. In fact, we have already started planning for CSS 2018 and promise to make it bigger, more informative and focused on the most prevalent information and physical security concerns and issues facing the industry.”

BUSINESS EXPANSION

When the company looked to expand its presence in the southeast into Florida, it sought out a person who had existing relationships in the market and significant knowledge of the industry. After an exhaustive search, GC&E appointed Rob Hile to spearhead the company’s entrance into the Florida region. Hile is an industry veteran with significant expertise in enterprise-level and government market opportunities and building relationships with technology partners, consultants and A&E firms. Recognized as a leading voice in the industry, Hile has more than 25 years of security industry experience in senior-level roles with Siemens Industry, Integrated Fire and Security, G4S, GVI Security and TAC, encompassing sales and business leadership to further position GC&E as “the” premier integration firm within the southeastern United States.

The newest office location, which is set to officially open in Tampa, Fla., in January, will serve as the centralized management site for all activities within the state and allow Hile to build a team from the large talent base in the Tampa Bay region. The immediate focus will be the Interstate-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando but will eventually expand per customer demands.

“Tampa is a great market with a wide array of public and private sector opportunities,” O’Sullivan said. “With Rob’s experience within both sectors, we feel strongly that it will provide GC&E with a solid platform to expand our business and open additional locations within the state. We see a $10 million market in Florida over the next three years.”

“I have a tremendous foundation to build from here in Florida and all the support I could ever need from the GC&E Corporate team,” Hile said. “GC&E was built from the network up, and we take the network assurance piece very seriously. Our IT staff is comprised of a high number of individuals who hold Information Assurance or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certifications and they ensure that the foundation of any system installed is designed to be secure from outside influences and that it stays that way moving forward. This foundation, coupled with all the other technology offerings including voice, data, network monitoring and physical security, puts us in an envious position in the markets that we serve.”

Hile said GC&E’s diverse solutions and services will allow him to meet growing customer demand for emerging technologies. The company plans to begin offering a new suite of integrated services to include remote monitoring, management and maintenance combined with lifecycle management of system assets. This comprehensive service offering will provide customers with real-time visibility into system operations, performance trends and reliability, and instant notifications of issues or failures, or allow them to schedule a service call, all while tracking overall health and the history of specific activities performed for each system device. This enables GC&E to proactively work to schedule maintenance and service calls before issues occur and to better support clients in the forecasting of system upgrades, enhancements or replacements based on the reliability and availability of the system or device.

There is also interest in adding diverse options for cloud storage, information assurance and cybersecurity, backup and disaster recovery, and management of ESS through mobile applications. GC&E also recognizes that the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution is a major driver of digital transformation.

“We will leverage evolving IoT-based technologies, trends and service offerings to create new business models that will ultimately streamline and improve system operations and reliability,” O’Sullivan said. “We believe staying on the forefront of these trends is imperative for sustained growth in the future.”

With a forward-thinking leader like O’Sullivan at the helm and the great management team of seasoned professionals he has put together, the sky’s the limit for what this company will accomplish in the years to come.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Security Today.

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