The National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA), a not-for-profit association representing the commercial low-voltage electronic systems industry, is excited to announce the winners of the 2016 Excellence in Business awards in five categories: 
  • Customer Experience: Tech Systems Inc., Duluth, Ga.
  • Differentiating Strategies: Custom Alarm, Rochester, Minn.
  • Employee Engagement: IMS Technology Services, Garnet Valley, Penn.
  • Strategic Transformation: Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Orlando, Fla.
  • Talent Development: Audio Acoustics Inc., Springfield, Mo. 
“This year’s winners are an inspiring collection of integration firms,” said NSCA Executive Director Chuck Wilson. “We’ve never seen a more diverse group of award winners in terms of company size and scope of work. The information they will convey during the opening-night program will deliver so much value and set the stage for an incredible event. The shifts these companies have made to achieve business goals, improve the customer experience, engage employees and differentiate themselves are changes we can all learn from.” 
This year’s Excellence in Business awards honor five systems integration firms in their efforts to adapt to the constantly changing industry: 
Audio Acoustics Inc., winner in the Talent Development category, decided to re-evaluate hiring and training practices to improve retention of its well-trained technical staff. The company wanted to close skill-set gaps while remaining competitive. The result was a plan that changed employee attraction, hiring and retention tactics; improved onboarding and training processes; and emphasized cross-training technicians. A new focus on hiring for stability and growth, and providing training through training videos, jobsite mentoring and in-house training courses, has provided encouraging results, including an increase in full-time, permanently employed technicians. 
Custom Alarm, winner in the Differentiating Strategies category, deals with emerging security technologies every day. But the company realized that its website was clunky and outdated — not making for a great first impression. To differentiate itself from the competition, Custom Alarm set out to create an interactive, fully responsive, aesthetically pleasing website. Working with a local Web programming company, the redesign was a joint venture. Spending more than 360 hours on the project, Custom Alarm took the time to solicit feedback and add several user-friendly features per customer requests. The firm has seen a 30 percent increase in Web traffic as a result, with a 60 percent increase in visits to the commercial security page when comparing month-over-month with the previous year. 
IMS Technology Services, winner in the Employee Engagement category, was influenced by Keynote Mike Abrashoff’s presentation at the Business & Leadership Conference in 2015 so much that the company decided to shift its focus to empowering each team member to make decisions. To recognize employees for working hard to achieve their goals in 2015, IMS hosted its annual meeting at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. The entire event was designed to center on the employees — not the company or its managers — which helped continue to build engagement and rapport. 
Tech Systems, winner in the Customer Experience category, developed a unique strategy for qualifying prospects to ensure value proposition on both sides. The company tracks every document, procedure and process for consistency and quality. Despite an increase in service calls in 2015, success rate for response time, 100 percent functionality upon initial service call, and preventive maintenance schedules still improved, meaning that customers were more satisfied with the service they received. In 2015, Tech Systems also became a 100 percent employee-owned integrator. Every recommendation is heard, documented and tracked through to resolution. Open-book management allows employees to engage with Tech Systems’ financial success. With a vested interest in company performance, employees are now more focused on customer service. 
Wayne Automation Fire Sprinklers, winner in the Strategic Transformation category, was facing a nearly 50-percent total revenues cut, employee layoffs and an 80 percent reduction in profits. Instead of giving up a few years ago, the company redefined what it wanted to be. Transitioning to a recurring revenue company, the company had to make several changes: defining which new construction work it would pursue and articulating a recurring revenue growth strategy. In the last five years, ending Dec. 31, 2015, it has grown company-wide revenues by an average of 12 percent per year. More importantly, it has achieved the recurring business growth target by increasing profits by an average of 16 percent per year over the past five years. 
Award winners will be recognized at NSCA’s Business & Leadership Conference, Feb. 25 through 27, in Dallas. They will be joined by Yorktel’s Ron Gabory to share the critical steps they took and the lessons they learned. To attend the conference or learn more, visit