NSCA, the not-for-profit association representing the commercial integration industry, announced the winners of the 2021 Stepping Up Awards.

The Stepping Up Awards temporarily step in for NSCA’s annual Excellence in Business Awards, which typically honor systems integration firms and their efforts to implement new strategies to navigate the constantly changing industry.

“The past year hasn’t been typical,” said NSCA Director of Industry Outreach Tom LeBlanc. “In the face of the pandemic, NSCA has seen its members set and strive for new goals and rise to the occasion when faced with daunting business challenges. So, this year, we decided to recognize companies that stepped up in various ways and honor them at the 2021 Business & Leadership Conference, where the theme is ‘Stepping Up When It Counts.’ ”

NSCA’s 2021 Stepping Up Award winners include:

Agility: Red Thread, Boston

This category is about integrators recognizing a rapidly changing market and adapting to customers’ evolving needs. During the pandemic, Red Thread quickly positioned itself as a back-to-work solutions provider and consultant. It developed a Workplace Re-Entry Program Guide and Safe Workplace Technology Playbook. Meanwhile, it launched a slew of solutions that can be integrated into back-to-work strategies, including its RapidEntry system for temperature screening, an air purification system, and its AmplifyTeamwork collaboration system for facilitating workplace re-entry and working from home.

Customer Experience: Forward Edge, Cincinnati

This category is about finding ways to be there for customers when they need their integrator partners most. As school districts moved online due to COVID-19, many of Forward Edge’s K-12 customers were challenged with adjusting to the new environment. Forward Edge’s team of technology integration specialists pulled together an expansive library of distance learning resources and tools for districts to use while tackling online learning. A best practices guide, webinars, and virtual office hours every other day for teachers helped address issues related to data privacy, teacher training, and engaging students over digital media.

Employee Engagement: Integrated Security Technologies, Inc., Waipahu, Hawaii

This category is about implementing solutions to keep sprawling, uniquely challenged workforces productive and positive. As mission-critical security employees, IST’s employees felt fortunate to be working through the pandemic, but they also had personal and professional challenges. They worked in hospitals where the virus was present. They were on jobsites where other workers didn’t wear masks or properly social distance. They worried about their own well-being and the health of their loved ones. The IST executive team implemented several steps to recognize and support employees throughout the challenging work environment.

Community Outreach: ClearTech, Altadena, Calif.

This category is about taking steps to help those in need. During the pandemic, ClearTech is working with Western Service Workers Association (WSWA), which provides support for low-income service, domestic, in-home care, part-time, and temporary workers to provide things like emergency food, clothing, preventive medical care, and more. ClearTech has supported WSWA for years but really stepped up during the pandemic with employees working on school supply drives, donating toys for the holidays, helping with PPP loan applications, and more.

Achievement: SIGNET Electronic Systems, Norwell, Mass.

This category is about beating the odds in a brutal market, achieving business growth, and measured success. In the midst of the pandemic, SIGNET launched its Remote Smart network operations center, which provides a highly professional and cyber-safe platform for the integrator to provide remote service. This not only proved invaluable in terms of touchless interaction with customer systems, but also has infused the company with recurring revenue.

The winners will be recognized during an awards ceremony at NSCA’s 23rd annual Business & Leadership Conference on Feb. 25 from 12 p.m.-12:45 p.m., central time. NSCA will also conduct short interviews with each Stepping Up Award winner. Register for BLC at nsca.org/blc-register2021.