Not everyone can be an Adesta LLC. That’s precisely why SDM chose this remarkable company as its 2008 Systems Integrator of the Year. (See “Commanding the Intersection.")

In addition to recognizing the winning company’s achievements, our Systems Integrator of the Year is meant to serve as a model to the market, one whose practices can be copied and applied to other systems integration businesses.

At press time — well after Adesta had been selected for this honor — the firm announced it had attained a $5.9 million contract with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to “implement a complex physical security device installation program in BART train stations.” Making the project both challenging and fascinating is the fact that all work will take place during night and weekend hours in order not to disrupt commuter traffic.

Again, not everyone can be an Adesta. Not many integrators have the capabilities and the credentials to handle security projects for rapid transit systems, major water ports, and energy plants.

The point I don’t want our readers to miss in this special coverage is that Adesta has many best practices you can adapt to your own business. In choosing Adesta, SDM’s editors identified three significant areas in which Adesta excels: training and staff development, branding and marketing, and industry involvement.

Training & Staff Development: Adesta’s president, Bob Sommerfeld, believes that developing staff through training is a way to help the business get through growth-related difficulties. Adesta has hired more than 80 new people since January 2008. One of the firm’s many benefits is tuition reimbursement and professional certification reimbursement.

“When we get new projects it’s difficult to find experienced and qualified people so we’re getting now to where we can devote resources to more training and more employee development; so as we take on new projects we’re growing a larger group of qualified people who can move from one project to another, and we don’t have to be so reliant on hiring,” he said.

Adesta’s staff already holds Level I and II Fire Alarm certifications from NICET; Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) certifications from the Security Industry Association; Certified Protection Professional (CPP) certifications from ASIS International; network certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, and CompTIA; and literally hundreds of manufacturer certifications.

Consistent & Multi-Faceted Marketing: Adesta begins with a very strong branding platform, based on consistent key messages that it uses rigorously in the 12 geographic markets and multiple vertical markets it serves.

Adesta “supplements this major branding effort with timed, coordinated marketing efforts that include trade show participation, special events, Web site and e-mail marketing, public relations support, speaking engagements, and direct mail campaigns,” said Adesta’s marketing director, Colleen Habrock. It also develops additional marketing collateral materials used in sales and sometimes directed to very targeted, vertical brand awareness campaigns, Adesta relates.

To put this lesson to good use at your own company, the key is to carefully identify the main messages you want your potential market to understand about what you offer, and then consistently deliver those messages in all of the different ways you touch your customer base.

Support the Industry: Adesta is involved as a board member, speaker and attendee at many industry conferences and exhibitions. It typically sends 25 to 30 people each year to events such as ISC West, ISC East, ASIS International, SIA Government Summit, and PSA National Dealer Meeting. For example, Rob Hile, Adesta’s vice president of business development, serves as treasurer and executive board member of the Security Industry Association.

“We are quick to accept speaking engagements where we share best practices or ‘lessons learned,’ oftentimes to our competitors as well as our customers,” Hile confessed.

These are just three seemingly simple, but very crucial, efforts that any company can undertake to strengthen and grow their business, regardless of its size.