Technology Champion / Nov. 2018
This month’s Technology Champion of the Month is a great example of a business enterprise that “Deserves” the success and accolades that they receive. Acoustiblok manufactures and markets truly innovative products that greatly enhance the “Quality of Life” for millions of people, worldwide, with “Best in Class” Noise Abatement technologies. Lahnie Johnson, the CEO of Acoustiblok, leads this amazing team of innovators.
Acoustiblok; the name synonymous for sound-deadening material, was the brain child of Lahnie Johnson, a local business man that has stayed rooted in the Tampa Bay area since the inception of his corporation that started it all: Sensuous Sound Systems. Lahnie designed, patented and manufactured the sound abatement product for his highly successful audio/video company; and it didn’t take long for him to realize it would become a staple product for everyone in the audio/video industry.
Acoustiblok was initially relegated to the back room of his audio/video business, where a small team of sales people would make cold-calls; with print advertisement limited to industry magazines.
Within a few years, expanding markets and sales opportunities emerged and a new location was needed to house the growing staff and warehouse needs.
The new-age product was sought-after by numerous industries, from hospitals to manufacturing facilities to tent cities utilizing generators, and being shipped worldwide.
IT in the Early Years
During the initial growth of Acoustiblok, the Country was dealing with Y2K and the aftereffects of 9-11; so the budding IT needs of both companies (originally shouldered by an existing employee) resulted in the purchase of a server, software, networking of the computers for both companies, and then calling it a day. Not much consideration was given to the threat of viruses or corrupted files; much less efficiently managing the system. Sales were handled by a stand-alone software; with tech support by the vender. A copy of Quickbooks was managed by the accounting department (with no computer experience), and all employees had access to all files and drives on the network. Needless to say there were numerous problems associated with speed, duplicated files, and backups (a real mess when actually done).
A dedicated IT employee was eventually brought on-board to ‘solve’ the problem. Unfortunately that employee had their own methodology on how IT should be handled; but not enough knowledge to make it happen. The company went through a number of unqualified employees over a six-year span; with each creating unique problems not solved by their successor. One day, a local company (who will remain nameless), came calling with the idea of a cloud-based system that promised efficiency, security, hardware and software solutions, as well as support. Lahnie jumped at the idea of an all in one solution to our growing problem. After the second CRM system was found to be a bust, Acoustiblok independently researched a third CRM system and settled on it while asking the IT cloud company to incorporate it. About this time, new personnel came over from the audio/video company to manage day-to-day operations. When the new operations personnel attempted to obtain specific information through the IT cloud company, confidence in those services quickly dwindled.
Acoustiblok Partners with Diversicom for IT
A conversation with the corporation’s bank, Pilot Bank, led to the meeting with Scott Beene from Diversicom. Over the course of several meetings, Scott offered to conduct a forensic analysis of Acoustiblok’s system (at no charge) to see what, if anything, could be done.
Scott conducted an in-depth analysis without the knowledge of the existing IT cloud company; finding huge discrepancies in what was thought to be provided, and what was actually there. The more Scott dug, the more issues were found. For example; although Acoustiblok had paid for licenses, Scott and his team found the licenses were not only not in the company name, some were shared licenses and the server was virtual drives on shared machines.
In the words of Larry Lasseter, the Operations Manager; “We decided to let Diversicom handle our system and were surprised to find that although they would recommend a product, they did not sell it, encouraging us to acquire it any way we wanted.” The transition was far from easy; as the previous service company refused to turn over licenses or backups. The team at Diversicom still made it work and built Acoustiblok the system needed; with redundancies built in. Per Larry; “We simply purchased the hardware and turned it over to them. We were up and running in no time.
The responsiveness we have received and continue to enjoy has been second to none.
New and better things are a way of life, if a company does not adapt, they cannot overcome; and by definition, won’t survive. Although we are a manufacturing company that utilizes hard work to manufacture our products, we could not survive without technology. I feel extremely confident with our products and leadership and with Diversicom behind us, we will move forth and expand our market share.”