When OpenEye founder and CEO Rick Sheppard began his company, he was a junior at Gonzaga University in Washington State. He started it with a mere $5,000 and a desire to create a company that was competitive, creative, and stayed true to its grassroots beginning. It didn’t take too long for others to join him, although Sheppard said he spent from 1999 to 2000, “convincing the smartest kids I knew to turn down promising jobs elsewhere to help me create a business we would all be proud to dedicate our lives to.”

In 2001, OpenEye introduced its first digital video recorder at ISC East. Among its first customers was Jay Hunt, president of Allied Fire & Security. “To date, he is one of our longest standing integration partners,” Sheppard said. Over the past decade, OpenEye has created partnerships with numerous customers throughout the Northwest and in the education, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, and retail segments. His 125 employees are U.S.-based and many of them are software and systems engineers.

“At its core our product offering is a value-driven IP solution including a complete lineup of NVRs and IP cameras. Our Radius video management software is extremely powerful yet very easy to use,” Sheppard explained. “We are also focused on developing software that helps our partners and end users improve operational efficiency, reduce maintenance complexity, and improve their return on investment. Two great examples of this are ReportStar and SaleGuard.  Both of these software platforms were designed specifically to help our customers run their businesses better.”

Customer service is a companywide commitment. OpenEye even has a name for it: Heroic Customer Service. “Obviously Heroic is a big word and we are putting ourselves out there by making this claim. It’s about being available, nimble, flexible, and creative when it comes to delivering solutions to our customers. It’s also about our commitment to long-term customer relationships,” Sheppard shared.

How are his clients using the products? WINCO grocery stores and the Carl’s Jr/ Hardee’s restaurants both use OpenEye’s SaleGuard exception reporting and data analytics platform to identify fraud and operational issues occurring at the point of sale. These clients also use its video platform to audit operational practices and to ensure compliance with safety procedures. 

Being privately owned with no venture capital or private equity investors gives OpenEye more freedom to stay true to the core values, Sheppard stated. He said the company has been profitable since 2002.

The company’s growth has allowed it to give back to its community and OpenEye maintains a strong environmental policy by adopting a green-commute policy. It designs products with minimal impact on the environment, and reduces the use of energy, water and raw materials, to name just a few of its efforts.

What’s on the horizon for OpenEye?  “We have a very strong product development pipeline with some significant new product releases this year and next. Our most important goal for 2015 is the successful introduction of our new OpenEye Web Services platform,” Sheppard shared.

 He also believes the industry’s future is about making data, including video, easier to manage and utilize across an enterprise.