Herman Integration Services featured in Commercial Integrator


November 01, 2013 | by Tom LeBlanc

Not a lot of integrators will pity Carousel Industries.

The IT-centric integration firm has seen the video portion of its business grow at 100-percent year-over-year clips since 2010. Although Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel has long had a national footprint, it’s landing projects in geographic areas in which it previously hadn’t had a lot of volume, says VP of visual communications Patrick Britton.

It needed to figure out how to handle the demand for more qualified manpower. 

“We want to manage that growth without staffing up too heavily right away,” he says, “so we’ll often leverage subcontract partners in certain areas.” In the North Carolina market, for instance, Carousel recently landed some significant projects, but didn’t necessarily have staff to support them.

The trick to enlisting third parties, of course, is making sure that the subcontracted staff represents Carousel Industries well. “That’s the question we always have with any of our subs,” Britton says.

About a year ago Carousel Industries turned to distributor Herman ProAV’s staffing division,Herman Integration Services, which provides technicians, project managers, programmers and engineers. Chris Bianchet, president of Herman Integration Services, can relate to Britton’s concerns about subcontracts because he shared them at his previous post, senior VP of systems integration for AVI-SPL.

Integrators that enlist subcontracts, Bianchet says, all have similar stories. “They’ve had good ones and really bad ones. The challenge is consistency. We’re trying to offer that on a consistent basis. We’re not reinventing it [integration subcontracting], but we’re trying to bring more consistency to it.”

One way Herman IS brings consistency is by keeping its stable of subcontractors employed on its staff. Since launching in June of 2012, it just passed 50 employees. It has to be a mobile crew in order to fill integration firms’ varied geographic needs, Bianchet says.

“We have a lot of guys that can get on an airplane and go [with little notice]. About three quarters of our staff always has a bag packed and is ready to go.”

Looking for a Few Trained Men

Another concern that Carousel Industries had before working with Herman IS was whether or not the large national distributor could provide proper attention to detail, Britton says. “My question to Chris was, ‘How do I know the guys I get in Arizona will do the same quality of work as the guys in Tampa where you’re headquartered?’

“He described the level of service we’d get, the level of communication and once we made the initial step into the shallow side of the pool they’ve delivered every time.”

Herman ProAV, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013, has a good sense of the pain points integrators experience when dealing with subcontractors, according to Bianchet. It’s important to focus on “offering more information back to the partner than they’re used to getting.”

Integrators also want to know that their subcontracts are trained and battle-tested. All Herman IS employees, he says, have at least a minimum competency – ability to handle data connections, hang flat panels and install projectors.

“We’re not hiring just to just stand there and pull cables. We’re looking for guys with [InfoComm] CTS certification, but we know a lot of guys won’t invest in that. So we work to get them all CTS certified at a minimum level. We’re spending a good amount of time trying to get our guys trained. Whenever they have down time, we’re getting them online training.”

Down time, however, is fewer and further between. Bianchet says he’s actively looking to add staff to the Herman IS team.

After working with Herman IS on projects for about a year, Carousel doesn’t see credentials as a concern. “They have the same commitment to training their staff as we have with ours,” Britton says.

“They’re working with InfoComm and making sure they have the same level of training.”

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