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Top 5 K-12 Education Market Integrators

These innovative, market-leading firms share dos and don’ts when approaching this complicated vertical.

Think of the CI Industry Leaders as power rankings.

We recognize the top integration firms serving 12 vertical markets, not purely by revenue but by a variety of factors including reputation, innovation and market approach. Put another way, these are companies that are making waves and worth watching.

CI spoke to five K-12 education market integrators about what helped them succeed (or fail!) at every step along the way. Check out what they have to say and click here to download the complete report, Meet the 2014 CI Industry Leaders.

On Success:

“[You must understand that] it’s a recovering market. It was at its peak here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in about 2008 and took a very sharp downturn. It took a few years for the money to pretty much dry up, but now it’s being funded. We see the district starting to fund some bond issues, and we’re very hopeful that 2015 is really going to be the year it picks up.

“I think that 2014 will be a rebuilding year where we’re doing a lot of repair work, fixing existing systems, but I think 2014 and beyond we’re going to be looking at some new systems and new technologies.” —Ray Bailey, President, Lone Star Communications

“To be a complete systems integrator in the K-12 market, the integrator must be technically competent in life safety, security, AV, communications and IP video. The integrator cannot simply sell direct to end-users.

Related: Meet Michael Hester, CEO of Beacon Communications

“It must have the expertise in the construction arena as well as the direct end-user space, it must understand the construction process, AIA billing retention, punch lists, bonding, etc. Large budgets for these systems are put aside in new construction.”—Bradford Caron, President, Signet Electronic Systems

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On Failure:

“[This is] a market that is fully open to anybody in the public, and it becomes one of the safe-haven markets in a downturn because there’s a lot of public money out there.

“But I think [you’d be surprised] at how many true professionals work specifically in the K-12 market like us, like other vendors and different specialties — and have a focus that is specifically K-12 and brings them the exact technologies that they need.” —Ray Bailey, President, Lone Star Communications

“If an integrator is not proficient working in the construction industry as well as the end-user space, he might be successful, but he will hit a ceiling and have a difficult time growing to achieve significant economies of scale.

“If an integrator tries to enter the construction space without the experience, a red flag could be that the integrator does not understand payment delays and back charges associated in the construction industry.” —Bradford Caron, President, Signet Electronic Systems

Click here to download the complete report, “Meet the 2014 CI Industry Leaders.”

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