Tele-Tector enjoys sustained incremental growth

David Spilman: Flexibility is key
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

BALTIMORE—While double-digit growth may sound good, Tele-Tector of Maryland President David Spilman says “sustained, incremental growth” is what he aims for year over year.

Spilman is the majority stockholder and president of Tele-Tector, an $8 million to $12 million integration firm based here. In business since 1967, Tele-Tector has “40 plus employees, a complete sales force, installation, service, CAD, installation and engineering department. We are self-sufficient,” Spilman said.

“We take the job from design to installation and [offer] full service, training and the maintenance of systems,” he added.  

Tele-Tector works “primarily in local government, we’re large in hospitals and elder care, manufacturing and pharmaceutical [verticals],” he said. The technologies it offers include access control, CCTV, alarm monitoring systems, as well as elopement systems for elder care and infant protection.

Its service revenue makes up about 25 percent of revenues and includes alarm monitoring, as well as service and maintenance. Tele-Tector offers a variety of service agreements. “We talk to the end user about that,” Spilman said. “Some are full parts and maintenance, some are time and material and preventative maintenance on equipment.” Tele-Tector offers service 24/7. “We do both Monday through Friday, as well as seven-day contracts.”

Spilman said Tele-Tector prefers negotiated contracts, but about 10 percent of its work is bid work. While it’s located close to D.C., it does not do GSA work, which Spilman considers “selling boxes.”

Spilman said Tele-Tector installs few analog cameras these days and says that the IT know-how on his side and the IT department on the end user side “are critical in the sales process now.” Tele-Tector can install a network itself or work with a subcontractor depending on what’s the most cost-effective.

 “That’s [another area] where it’s important to be flexible in this industry,” he said.

Spilman’s goal is to grow the business “ a little each year.” Much of the company’s business comes from customer reference and it has customers who have been with the company for 15 to 20 years.

It is the original service provider for the city of Baltimore, a reference that has been helpful to Tele-Tector.

“Not every sale has to be a $100,000 or $250,000 sale,” Spilman said. “We do focus on the smaller systems,” which over time can turn into large clients. Spilman’s first sale when he joined Tele-Tector 25 years ago was a few cameras and card readers for a hospital. Today that same customer has 200 cameras and 200 readers, he said.

Constant training and certifications and manageable growth are the keys to keeping those long-term customers happy, he said.

“If you double sales, but you don’t increase staff [and train them properly] you’re not going to be able to do a good job. You’ve got to be able to sustain what you sell,” he said. “You’ve got to provide the customer a good, competitive price, install [the system] properly, per code, and provide training, service and maintenance.”

If you don’t, you don’t do your company or the industry any favors, Spilman said.