Valley Communications, Inc.: Standing Out in the Tech Crowd
By Emma Bouthillette
Valley Communications Inc. (VCI) was founded during an era of typewriters, back when cable television was a luxury and cellphones went by the nickname “the brick.” However, Ken Hurst, founder of VCI, understood the importance of a company that could keep up with rapidly evolving communications technology.
Today, 30 years later, Hurst’s Sacramento, Calif.-based business is a leader in the communications industry that seamlessly transitions between core market segments, connecting business with technology. VCI’s niche, however, is in the design and implementation of integrated technology systems throughout northern California and into northern Nevada.
Since being established in 1983, VCI has continually expanded with technology. Primarily operating out of the corporate office, VCI is also equipped with the ability to work out of satellite offices, which are located at the more complex projects. VCI utilizes its satellite offices to efficiently facilitate multiple projects in a similar location.
The firm currently has approximately 90 highly trained and experienced technicians. In addition, most of VCI’s management staff averages over 15 years of experience with the company. VCI’s team loyalty has been a key component to success; no details are lost during transition periods between staff.
The staff’s longevity and depth of knowledge gives VCI an important perspective on everything from how to deal with new construction or occupied workspaces to the most efficient and effective methodologies to integrate. The company understands the difference between meeting industry demands and just jumping on the bandwagon of an emerging technology, according to Hurst. VCI’s ability to remain up to speed and to cut through the clutter for the benefit of the client has resulted in maintaining long-lasting relationships with suppliers and customers alike.
“We work with all the big industry leaders,” Hurst says. “If you’re not a partner with them, then you can’t competitively use their products.” VCI’s premier partners include: CommScope, Panduit, Corning, Ortronics, Berk-Tek and Cisco to name a few.
“And our focus on customer satisfaction means we have a lot of repeat clients and referrals,” reinforces Hurst. These satisfied, repeat clients include many of the top Fortune 500 companies.
Ahead of the Curve
VCI has made a point to keep business ahead of the curve by not only keeping a finger on the pulse of the communications industry, but also supplying a full-range of services where many companies only specialize in one sector. VCI’s competitive edge begins with its in-house engineering capabilities. The company’s engineers carry some of the highest certifications in the industry, including Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), which allows the company to take on more complex projects than many competitors.
VCI can offer potential clients a wide variety of integrated technology services, including structured cabling, security management systems, audio and visual systems, IT-managed systems, as well as design and engineering.
A current project VCI is involved with is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s California Health Care Facility in Stockton. The facility is being built as a resource for inmates on an 18-month schedule with an expected completion date of September 2013.
“It is currently the largest project under construction in California,” says Hurst. The 1,722-bed medical and mental health care facility encompasses 1.2 million square feet. The facility is complete with medical diagnostic/treatment centers, a central utilities plant, data center, housing and support facilities, as well as electrified fencing and 11 guard towers.
VCI is responsible for the design and implementation of the facility’s technology requirements, which include: structured cabling, security systems, wireless systems and data center. VCI’s team is part of 2,000 individuals working on the project daily in order to meet the scheduled completion date.
“To be a design-build contractor for a project of that size and meeting an accelerated schedule like that, to most folks it would be a monumental task,” says Hurst. “Every other project dwarfs in comparison, but the nimbleness of our staff and structure of our company enables us to handle it.”
Technology for Security
VCI is constantly striving and adjusting to market requirements. According to Hurst, there is currently a huge demand for video surveillance and other security measures, not just in correctional facilities, but also in the education sector.
For example, the company has a long-standing relationship with California State University, Chico in Chico, Calif. To date, VCI has installed over 600 IP video cameras that are fully integrated in to the campus’s technology systems. These IP video cameras are placed in dormitories and buildings throughout the campus. The videos allow campus police to keep watch on the entire campus, and since the videos are digitally backed up on a storage network, it provides immediate feedback to security. “The amount of business activity we’ve had in schools and universities is increasing every day,” says Hurst.
According to Hurst, a project that VCI is designing is a comprehensive security system for a local high school. VCI is working with the school to implement a system that monitors every door in the school with an access control device and video cameras throughout the facility. This type of system will help alert school officials if someone without proper credentials tries to enter the school, and it will be capable of immediately locking down the building.
Thriving in a Tough Economy
Despite the rapidly moving communications industry, VCI was not spared the impact of the most recent recession. “We had to make some adjustments, but we’ve been able to come out of it strong,” says Hurst. “We’re very excited about where we’re going now.”
Among VCI’s current initiatives is a focus on expanding design and engineering services for its clients and implementing continued customer support programs for the work the company has already done. “As we start to deploy more active equipment, more attention needs to be put on the maintenance and service of those systems, for which our clients look to us,” Hurst says.
Maintaining an eye for detail – even throughout projects put on the fast track – VCI assures that critical systems are implemented regardless of technical and schedule challenges. Able to design and install the complete integrated technology system infrastructure into any sized building or complex, Valley Communications Inc. will celebrate its 30-year anniversary as it has every other year: progressing.