SETTING THE STANDARDS IN COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Network Cabling Services (NCS) has been delivering leading edge communication solutions for three decades. Specializing in structured cabling, audiovisual, and security integration, the Texas based company provides complete turnkey services from new construction and remodels to design and maintenance.
Written by Claire Suttles
The team can handle a variety of challenging projects. Most recently, they have been heavily involved with UTMB’s construction projects in Galveston; NCS just finished a major structured cabling job at UTMB’s new Clinical Services Wing and is currently installing structured cabling at Jennie Sealy Hospital, which will be a $438 million state of the art healthcare facility when construction is completed.
In a very different project, the team recently installed the cameras and access control for the new football stadium at University of Houston. Another recent job took place at the William P. Hobby Airport, where the team took care of all the flight information display monitors at the new terminal. This project involved an extra challenge due to security demands of working within an airport. However, as a cleared facility, NCS handled this issue with ease.
The company’s ability to juggle a range of challenging projects has been key to success. “What sets us apart is not only our product diversification but also our market diversification, which has really helped us through the years,” says Chief Operating Officer Mark Veltri. By maintaining a presence in sectors ranging from industrial and healthcare to education, NCS is sure to always find work, even if one sector is down. “That has helped us weather some storms through the years.”
The company’s core values also provide a pathway for success. “If we focus on our core values of quality, communication, customer service, and integrity then a lot of other things are going to naturally fall into place,” Mr. Veltri states. These values naturally put the customer first. “What sets us apart is our responsiveness and our focus on the client. It is all about our customer.” Employees are also highly valued and the team puts a lot of effort into creating a positive work environment. “Our employees are the key to our success so we need them to enjoy working here.” This commitment is demonstrated by the fact that many employees have been with the company for over a decade.
“The bulk of the company’s growth has been due to repeat work from long term relationships.”
As a family company, the team’s personal beliefs drive the business and provide the foundation for that positive work environment. “We are an unapologetically Christian company,” Mr. Veltri explains. “Our mission is to provide a positive working environment that promotes continued education, personal growth, family and Christian values; to prosper corporately and individually while maintaining the highest levels of professional business behavior. We really try to live up to that mission.”
The company culture also emphasizes workforce training. “I grew up in the Navy and there is a saying that ‘men mean more than guns’ in the rating of a ship. Well, that applies to a company as well. It doesn’t matter how many buildings you have, how many locations you have. It is all about the people. You are only as good as the weakest link so we try to invest a lot into the development of our people. We put a lot of emphasis on training and development.”
NCS’ corporate office in Houston houses a training facility that is certified by BICSI, the global association for cabling design and installation professionals. “BICSI is the industry standard for the telecommunications industry, so competitors actually pay us to train their technicians at our offices because there are very few certified training facilities available.”
The team has begun putting every new hire through OSHA 10 training and is making sure that field leadership goes on to earn the more stringent OSHA 30 certification. The team also brings in manufacturers to educate workers on the latest technology trends. In addition, NCS has invested in AVAQ certification. “We are one of a handful that are AVAQ certified contractors,” Mr Veltri says. “It improves the consistency of the deliverables and the quality that we can provide to our clients.”
Workforce training is a critical issue in the industry at large, as well as within NCS, due to an overall lack of qualified tradesmen. In response, AGC (Associated General Contractors of America) has launched C3 (Construction Career Collaborative), a leading edge training initiative that aims to reduce Houston’s skilled labor shortage within the construction industry. “We have an aging skilled workforce,” Mr. Veltri points out. “C3 is working on making [construction] a more desirable field for people to get into [by] focusing on financial security, health, safety, and craft training.”
NCS was already one step ahead when the initiative was launched. “A lot of the things that the C3 program was looking at, we were already doing. We had a big focus on being a safe organization. We were already providing healthcare before ObamaCare came into play and [we focused on] training. We recognize that if we have the best-trained workforce out there we can deliver quality deliverables to our clients. There was so much overlap. That is why I like the program.”
NCS has also invested time and money into new technology. “We moved from paper time sheets to electronic time keeping for our field employees. We are developing a service automation program that will drive the consistency and the process of how we do things in our service department and automate some of the reporting to clients.” This communication is key to achieving customer satisfaction. “Clients want to know when we are checking in, checking out, and when the job is done. Keeping them informed of status fits with our core value of communication, but it also [creates] consistency, so if we automate that process through some technology investments then we can deliver that service, time and time again.” Consistency of service is a core goal for NCS and an underlying secret of success, Mr. Veltri adds.
NCS has enjoyed substantial growth in recent years. “We were a $16 million company in 2010 and we are on track to be a $32 million company this year.” Mr. Veltri credits both the employees and the local business climate for this expansion. “We’ve been very blessed – blessed with the people on our team, blessed to be in Texas over the last seven years. Some of the other parts of the country have definitely struggled, but Texas in general – and Houston specifically – were somewhat isolated. We were able to weather the storm through 2008, 2009, and have been rapidly growing since then.”
“We were a $16 million company in 2010 and we are on track to be a $32 million company this year.”
While NCS certainly attracts new clients, the bulk of the company’s growth has been due to repeat work from long term relationships. “We have grown mainly on recurring business from existing clients. Client loyalty is a big part of our overall strategy. We don’t want to just have a ‘one and done’ project.” Rapid growth presents challenges of course, and it takes substantial effort to expand successfully. “We have been blessed with a phenomenal amount of growth and we want to continue having profitable and sustainable growth,” Mr. Veltri shares. “We have added 40 people since May of this year to our workforce, and one of the major challenges is finding a skilled workforce.” Mr. Veltri expects this pressure to continue for several years. “The next three to five years in the Texas and Houston market should be really positive for growth in construction, so one of the challenges is finding qualified workers to meet the demand for the construction that is coming down the pipeline.”
Fortunately, NCS is well prepared to meet this demand via its top-notch training program. Mr. Veltri expects that the C3 program will have a positive impact throughout the local market as well, helping to alleviate the shortage in skilled labor
long term. NCS can also rely on its company values to continue steering the business toward success. The team’s genuine
concern for its clients and employees has led to repeat business and workforce retention. And, the company’s market diversification ensures that NCS is ready to weather any unexpected dips within a specific sector. With these combined attributes, the team is more than ready to continue its remarkable growth and success.