VOL. 121 | NO. 29 | Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Small Business Spotlight
ProTec's Growth Is Twofold: Physical and on Paper
By Andy Meek
LATEST PROJECT: Mitch McClure, Andy Yambrek, Ernie Dunkin and Zack Weaks all work for ProTec, a business that's quickly outgrowing its office on Tillman. -- Photograph By Andy Meek
The folks at Memphis-based technology design, installation and project management company ProTec Inc. like to be in the thick of things.
ProTec's modest, 9,000-square-foot warehouse and office at 584 Tillman St. doesn't necessarily portray this. But a quick glance at some of the company's local clients, such as AutoZone, Coca-Cola and Collierville-based Carrier Corp., makes it clear.
Impressive client roster
Recent jobs also speak volumes about the company, such as its work scrutinizing every technical component of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, which was battered by Hurricane Katrina and damaged from the thousands of refugees who huddled inside during the hurricane's aftermath. ProTec is a relatively small company with 15 cabling technicians, but one that prides itself on its ability to handle big projects. The Superdome's IT structure is a favorite example.
"That was a good one for us, and we're trying to find more business in Louisiana," said co-owner Andy Yambrek. "You know, it's been tough finding housing for our guys, when hotels cost $130 a night in the rough areas. But there's more work down there than can be done by 10 companies."
That's why ProTec, a 17-year-old IT company that expects to triple its revenue this year, is considering opening an office somewhere on the Gulf Coast. For the Superdome project, the company brought $100,000 worth of testing equipment and nine workers to the area. They've stayed seven days a week for the past three weeks testing every cable, camera and other electronic component on site.
Little guy good, too
Not every job, of course, involves high-profile locations like the massive sports stadium. In the Memphis-area building community, the company is developing something of a niche tackling new construction projects by coming in on the front end to help determine tech needs, Yambrek said.
Owners: Andy Yambrek, Ernie Dunkin and Glen Gish
Basics: Though its offices are small, ProTec is known for taking on big clients and even bigger projects. One of its most recent feats has been examining the IT infrastructure at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Web site: http://www.protecinc.net. Call (901) 458-1228.
And to do that, ProTec has a large slate of regular partners and customers, including voice over IP company Vo2 Networx, which came in as a partner on a recent expansion at Temple Israel at 1376 E. Massey Rd.
"They are incredibly great to work with," said Paige Lucchesi, a manager at Vo2 Networx. "They've done a lot of big jobs for us, like at Temple Israel, and they're very great at follow-up. We pretty much just use them even though there's a dozen other cable companies in the city."
Rick Riley, an outside plant designer with Memphis Networx, agreed ProTec has been a valuable partner.
"They're very dependable," he said. Nondisclosure agreements prevented him from talking about ProTec's work on specific projects, but Riley added, "We like the price structure, and they do good, quality work."
For ProTec, the way forward likely will involve continuing to create a niche in IT consultation, design and installation work.
Carving a position
Yambrek said it's not uncommon to see a project that's not planned out well end up having 40 or 50 change orders, and workers sometimes having to do things like rip out a concrete floor to be able to put a conduit in place. Such headaches are avoidable with proper planning, which ProTec pushes heavily.
"Where we've seen our business change over the last few years is in getting to those people early and helping them by adding a tremendous amount of time on the front end of projects," Yambrek said. "People are just now understanding - the general contractors, electrical contractors and now the building owners - that you need to plan this stuff ahead of time."
ProTec employees work with customers, partners and suppliers on a wide range of projects across the country, and the company has taken part in everything from multi-site rollouts to IT project management and large-scale, single-site projects.
ProTec offers a diverse slate of services.
Company literature promotes its experience handling the convergence of new building construction and technology infrastructure.
The challenge there is in keeping architects, engineers and contractors on the same page to make sure the building is designed efficiently. And in a way, the company acts as a go-between for everyone involved.
"We've got a couple of sales guys, and we've gone from about five technicians to almost 18 in two years," Yambrek said. "We've also got five to seven guys throughout the country at any given time."
Making a cyberplace
Wireless installation has become a major part of the company's work. ProTec both analyzes and offers solutions to wireless security needs of companies. It also offers customers access to project information through the ProTec Web site.
All the files and project drawings are viewable on the site, which has become a major way ProTec sets itself apart from the competition.
Yambrek said a recent client in New York wanted to be able to monitor his project, a call center that was being built in Mississippi, which he did through the specialized Web site.
ProTec has operated from its cramped space on Tillman for 10 years. Top brass have started scouting a new space.