77 Years of Technical Innovation and Still Innovating

Since buying it out of bankruptcy, leadership has turned integration firm Technical Innovation into an industry powerhouse – and learned from mistakes along the way.

From its early days as Reagan Visual Education Company, with a focus on slide projectors and other educational products, there’s always been an appreciation at Technical Innovation for keeping things simple and customer-centric.

Sure, that sounds like a cliché, but it’s an approach that’s worked during the 77-year history of the company and it’s something that CEO Mike Landrum has no plans to change as he enters his second decade of leadership of the company since buying it out of bankruptcy.

“We really look at things and take things one customer at a time,” says Landrum, who joined Technical Innovation in 1992 and bought the company with president Kevin Powers out of bankruptcy court from industry veterans Sonny Davis (who started PSNI with John Fuchs) and Ed Matthews in 2004.

More: Technical Innovation Among 14 Corporate Market Leaders in 2014

“When you’re serving America’s elite organizations, success isn’t optional. High-profile businesses have to serve their customers well and that helps to build new clients gradually and consistently,” says Landrum.

“In this industry, clients test you with smaller projects that can lead to much bigger opportunities. We never take a client for granted, even those we’ve had a relationship with for a number of years. As soon as you do that, you’ll lose that client to someone who treats them the way you used to.”

Building a Strong Base

Landrum learned a lot about the AV integration business from Davis and Matthews, he says, after coming from public accounting and being involved in the sale of a family business to a Fortune 500 company.

CI SNAPSHOT
Technical Innovation LLC
PRIMARY LOCATION: Norcross, Ga.
ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS: Raleigh, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; DC area; new office coming soon to Houston
PRINCIPALS: Michael Landrum, CEO; Kevin Powers, president; Michael Wright, president broadcast
PROJECTED 2014 REVENUES: $150 million
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 10 years as Technical Innovation LLC; 77 year history
EMPLOYEES: 334
NO. OF COMMERCIAL INSTALLS LAST YEAR: 1,500
TOP 3 VERTICAL MARKETS: Corporate, Federal, Broadcast
TOP BRANDS: Crestron, Thinklogical, Cisco

When Landrum joined TI, then called Technical Industries, the company primarily focused on corporate and broadcast video. As the industry evolved, the company shifted from a focus on video only to a more AV-centric approach, says Landrum.

Still, as has become a pattern for the company, “we never left our legacy,” says Landrum, which also includes one of the first female owners in the industry, Cheryl Calhoun, who bought it from the founders. One of the biggest breaks in TI’s move into AV integration came when Panasonic’s parent company approached them to fill out the broadcast center for the 1996 Summer Olympics, right in their backyard in Atlanta.

From there, TI was hired to outfit the broadcast centers and individual venues for the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, giving the company a true worldwide footprint and reputation as a reliable company in the most stressful conditions.

More: IntraLogic, Technical Innovation Talk Control Room Integration

“That gave us the credentials to approach and win business in broadcast, but other aspects of the business were growing faster,” says Landrum. TI started to see tremendous growth in command and control for utilities and transportation as well as increased AV opportunities in higher education, health care and legal and other corporate spaces.

“That inertia was created by successful interactions and successful relationships with our customers,” says Landrum, who boasts a “strong commitment to client-centric relationships.” That approach has fed on itself and helped TI grow from about $40 million in annualized sales in 2004 to a belief they can reach $200 million in the next three years.