Pushing the Envelope With Low-Voltage: Commercial Technology Contractors Inc.

0519 MTI
Image credit: CTCI

Commercial Technology Contractors Inc., Clifton, N.J., operates from one location with 55 employees (including office, engineering and field staff). Technically, the company is a licensed electrical contractor, but it does not use that license.

“We hold it only so that we can perform our low-voltage, security and A/V [audio/visual] work without restriction,” said Michael McCaugherty, president.
McCaugherty used to own an interconnect firm (a business telephone company), but he quickly learned the margins were thin.

“Then, the industry just vanished because of the cloud,” he said.

Fortunately, his company also had a structured cabling arm, so it shifted to that with a focus on new construction high rises. Now it focuses on the “three disciplines of intelligent low-voltage infrastructure,” which are information technology (IT), A/V and security.

Its IT work includes structured cabling, Wi-Fi/wireless, wide- and campus-area networks, infrastructures, interior office fitouts, CATV, and distributed antenna systems and cellular enhancement. Its A/V work includes video conferencing, web-hosted meetings, video walls and digital signage, while the security work includes access control, camera and CCTV, and intercom and paging. The company also provides services in mass notification and paging/audio.

“When the business telephone market went away, the customer base stayed the same. Our customers were IT guys who said, ‘Security and A/V are now in my network. Can you help me out?’” he said.

Currently, Commercial Technology Contractors focuses on three specific and strategic customer markets. One is the commercial Fortune 1000 market. The second is new construction, which consists of the general contractor market.

“During the first and last quarters of the year, though, when these markets tend to be dead, we focus on educational, municipalities and government,” McCaugherty said.

The company advertises online, but McCaugherty said, “Nothing helps us more than a simple introduction, referral or a handshake. That is still number one. Our existing customers tell other people about us. In fact, we specifically ask for this.”

Training is one of the company’s strategic initiatives. At the basic level, its new apprentices receive fundamental training from the local union. At the advanced level, manufacturer training—online and in person—is key.

“Whereas infrastructure and wire were very generic and standards-based, the products we now support from an access control, security automation, and A/V perspective are very specific,” McCaugherty said. “Most of the training for these is manufacturer-based.”

The company created its own in-house training out of necessity.

“We have our own training facility, where we teach the apprentices more than the fundamentals,” he said.

Young apprentices are coming to the company with computer skills.

“During our in-house training, we show them how a lot of processors and controllers work, so they can do firmware and hardware updates for our customers, as well as basic IT configurations,” he said. “Because of their computer skills, some of our apprentices go to job sites knowing more from a technology perspective than some of the senior journeymen, because the latter have been so committed to wire.”

The company’s in-house training includes classes of 12 to 15 people and occurs monthly or as necessary when projects with a new product or device call for specialized training.

Beyond comprehensive training, Commercial Technology Contractors has another competitive edge—a highly refined, proven core process, which includes onboarding customer engagements, followed by implementations and then maintenance.

This consistency provides customers with a sense of confidence and satisfaction because they know what the process will be.

Commercial Technology Contractors prides itself on being a single-source supplier of structured cabling and A/V unified collaboration systems. Its soup-to-nuts suite of in-house design, build, installation, management, maintenance and inspection is evident in one of its more comprehensive projects at a leading state university.

“We were able to involve all of our services and technologies here,” McCaugherty said. These included underground and aerial services; design, installation and maintenance of the campus security system; and design, installation and maintenance of the university’s A/V systems and services. They also provide the university with on-site technicians to support day-to-day work orders, a source of recurring revenue.

“All of these reside on one ecosystem,” he said. “This is proof that there can be true integration, that a multidisciplined system can work very well.”

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