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Advance Technology management reorg propels growth

Advance Technology management reorg propels growth Internal apprenticeship and internship programs bring high quality talent to integrator

SCARBOROUGH, Maine—Advance Technology president Rob Simopoulos credits a management reorganization with helping propel the company's growth. Simopoulos is projecting revenues of $9 million this year, a 37 percent increase over 2014.

“Last year, we took a look at the way we were built as an organization,” Simopoulos told Security Systems News.

The company was getting too big for Simopoulos to manage every aspect of the business. He said he read an SSN story where PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman "discussed needing a management team to break through those revenue levels. That opened my eyes. About one year ago I built out a management team comprising of sales manager Kristina Johnson, operations manager Michelle Leach, design engineering manager Caleb Gaul and director of finance and accounting Mark Boutin." Here's a link to that SSN interview with Bozeman.

“Putting that management group in place has kept us on an upward trend,” Simopoulos said.

To find the highest quality employees, Advance Technology has devoted time and resources to recruiting staff, which now numbers 36. Eighteen percent are veterans and about one-third are women.

Advance Technology has an internal internship program, an apprenticeship program and the company is always advertising and interviewing potential employees, even if it's not hiring at the moment.

“We're always looking for talent,” he said.

That's how Simopoulos found Michelle Leach, who started as a remote engineer and is now operations manager. Simopoulos met and interviewed Leach months before he was able to hire her.

Photo: Michelle Leach adjusting the sensor layout of an Arecont Vision SurroundVideo Omni Camera

Leach came to Advance Technology from a systems integrator in New Hampshire. She started her career in accounts payable, but she was more interested in technology. “I told them I was bored and said. 'give me something else to do,'” she said. Her former employer gave her a broken NVR, which she quickly took apart and reassembled. Before long, Leach became a technical support manager.

That was back in 2000. Since then, she's worked on projects around the world, including some high-profile projects in New England such as at Logan Airport, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Boston Common Garage and temporary security projects at the Hatch Shell in Boston.

She earned an IT degree while working full-time and supporting her three children as a single mom. She also has a long list of certifications to her credit.

Today Leach manages 20 employees. Her day-to-day includes “helping project managers set up jobs, talking to customers, running the service department, technical support and programming.”

She also manages Advance Technology's apprenticeship program, which ,within a year-and-a-half, gets technicians up and running on all of the systems Advance Technology specializes in.

Kristina Johnson is another member of Simopoulos' executive staff. A U.S. Air Force veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Saudi Arabia before graduating from college, Johnson joined the company as a customer satisfaction specialist in January 2014; she has since been promoted to sales manager.

Johnson learned about electronic security, setting up long-range cameras and doing other work in the Air Force. After college, she knew she wanted to work for a systems integrator. She interviewed with some very large companies, deciced she wanted a small enterprenuerial company and sought out Advance Technology.

As sales manager she oversees five outside sales reps and one inside business development person. She's also responsible for marketing and put together an internship program for Advance Technology.

Johnson set up the program based on her experience working as an intern in college.

Photo: Kristina Johnson set up an internship program for Advance Technology

“We wanted a way for early career people to find us. Especially for IT graduates, there's no clear career path to security,” she said.

Advance Technology is working with five New England colleges, alma maters of staff members. They offer internships in finance, business sales, design engineering and remote engineering.

“We got 300 applications in the first two weeks,” Johnson said. Two former interns turned into part-time hires. Importantly, the interns who are hired get significant mentoring as well as on-the-job training, Johnson said.

“We'd like to have more interns join the team,” Simopoulos said. “We can teach them and mold them and we hope they stay with us for life. But if not, at least we've introduced them to a great industry.”

This story is part of a Security Systems News series called “Women in Security Technology.” Know a woman who works in a technical role in the security industry who would be perfect for this series? Contact Martha Entwistle, [email protected]


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