At a Glance
Commercial and residential audio-video installation and maintenance
In 2003, Chris Pearson, then the vice president of a commercial audio-video company, had a moment of realization. “No one in the industry seemed to be putting an emphasis on employees and how they’re treated, and that impacted the quality of work,” he says. “I thought I could build a better business model, so I decided to put my money where my mouth was, launch a business, and see what happened.”
What happened, Pearson says, is that his business, Austin, Texas-based Service TECH, Inc., saw exponential growth at a time when the US economy was tanking. Founded in 2003, with just a vision and a single employee, today it has a staff of 54 and $6.8 million in annual sales.
According to Pearson, he began by furnishing employees with all the tools they needed to get the job done. “I saw a lot of excuses for poor performance, from ‘we had to share a ladder’ to ‘we don’t have current software,’” he says. “My strategy was to hire the right people, arm them with every resource imaginable, then let them do what they do best. Then, if it doesn’t work, the individual has to be accountable.”
Top 5 AV Products Favored by Service TECH
1. Trufig is an installation platform that puts electrical outlets, light switches, and other receptacles flush with the wall.
2. Sonance Architectural Series speakers come in various configurations in order to fit a home’s lighting design and keep ceiling details consistent.
3. The iPad is becoming the primary touch-screen control device.
4. Crestron control systems eliminate the need to walk from room to room to adjust audio-visual components, lights, temperature settings, and drapes.
5. Lutron lighting is simply the best technology for lighting systems.
Service TECH also places an emphasis on aesthetics as well as technology. “It’s a low-barrier industry; anyone can be an AV guy,” Pearson says. “And most of them do it the same way: they can’t wait to tell you how smart they are by throwing out confusing acronyms. We take more of a design approach. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s quite unique. It’s given us access to the architecture and interior design community, and it’s enabled us to focus on the high-end residential and commercial business.”
Although Service TECH’s projects run anywhere from $1,000 to millions, the typical residential project, for a home valued at more than $1 million, is in the $50,000 range. Such was the case with the 26,000-square-foot King Fisher Street residence in Fort Worth, Texas, which Service TECH completed in 2012 at a cost of $400,000 to finish out the $700,000 system. “We took over the project in its final phase, which required us to do three months’ worth of work in three weeks,” Pearson says. “But because of our employee resources, we had different people doing different components of the job, and that allowed us to meet the deadline.”
Commercially, the company is frequently hired by small businesses and real estate developers. In 2010, for example, Service TECH completed the Arthouse at the Jones Center in Austin, and it was hired to do all the wiring for the Austin W Hotel & Residences, a multiunit condo project that cost $3 million. “Around 50 individuals purchasing units also hired us to do custom AV finishes, and that’s ongoing,” Pearson says.
“Employee experience leads to client experience,” he adds. “By focusing on our people, who are our most valuable asset, we keep the same faces, which our clients love.” ABQ