Contava’s employees often go well above and beyond the scope of their job descriptions to solve customer problems, says Pamela Wilson, the company’s marketing manager. PHOTO COURTESY OF CONTAVA

Visit the website for Edmonton, Alberta-based systems integrator Contava, and you’ll probably notice three things. First, the company is very IT-focused. Second, there seems to be an equally (if not more) intense focus on customer service and satisfaction. And third, the company is growing, as evidenced by the jobs posted on the site.

That’s no accident, says Pamela Wilson, Contava’s marketing manager. In fact, the company feels that its growth is a direct result of that dual focus on technology and people.

“We’ve grown about 13 percent over last year, and we attribute that to the overall increased focus on security, particularly on the heavy industry side,” Wilson says. “How we distinguish ourselves is that we’ve focused on the IT side and the emerging technologies side. We’ve built up vast IT resources, and that’s what’s growing the most for us.”

When it comes to customer relationships, Contava wants to build more of a partnership than a simple relationship, Wilson says.

“Our driving philosophy is a focus on customer relationships and ensuring that we’re not just delivering a solution, but that the solution we’re delivering meets their needs, servicing those solutions afterward for two or three years, and upgrading and migrating them to newer technologies as needed,” she says. “We focus on becoming a partner to the customers we have currently, while forging new partnerships with new customers.”

Where technology and people merge is in the area of creating custom solutions for customers, which is almost the norm for Contava, Wilson says.

“We don’t really sell package solutions. We prefer to engineer more specific solutions to meet customer needs, which may combine two or three technologies,” she says. “It’s definitely a point of selling and a feature that can come up.”

The biggest differentiator, however, may be the dedication of Contava’s employees, some of whom have done much more than was expected just to satisfy a customer’s needs.

One employee drove nearly 120 miles each way after “quitting time” on a Friday to troubleshoot an inoperative electric strike on a casino customer’s perimeter door. While he was identifying and repairing the problem (an intermittent ground fault in old wiring), it had started snowing, but he persisted in making the return trip despite blizzard conditions, arriving home safely at 1:30 a.m. 

Another employee created a solution that brought together all of the elements a customer wanted for its 21 remote sites. The resulting “security in a box” solution allowed the customer to easily swap out the entire box in the case of any failures, minimizing downtime and allowing them to send the box off-site for troubleshooting and service. Most notable about the solution was that the employee created a repeatable manufacturing process that allowed other Contava employees to build these boxes for each site and meet the project’s deadline.

In nearly every business, there are people who will go to great lengths to serve customers, so that isn’t what’s notable about these stories. The difference is that these are just two of the examples of Contava’s customer focus you’ll find in the “People Stories” section of their website, which exists solely for providing very public recognition to employees for doing more than the minimum to solve customer problems, Wilson says. 

“We all agree we could do better or do more besides the public relation and thanks, but that goes a long way,” she says.

So what does Wilson think makes so many of Contava’s employees go so far above and beyond the call of duty for customers?

“A lot of them have such a passion for the technologies themselves, so they enjoy creating custom solutions for customer problems that may arise,” she says. “A lot of it is an internal motivation and passion, and we work very hard to try to attract those kinds of employees.”