I’ve never been a big fan of the outsourcing trend in our country. Yet, the notion that electronic systems contractors can offer more efficient services and better quality products to their customers by outsourcing time-consuming programming chores is something that I’m learning to accept.
One such independent programmer that is gaining momentum in the CEDIA channel is Texas’ PanTech Design, a provider of AV system design, control system programming and module development that has expanded its operations beyond the southwest region. I recently spoke with the company’s two principles, Troy Morgan and Micah Thurlow, who told me that their firm offers more than just programming services. They’re also becoming a business operations advisor.
PanTech Designs' Micah Thurlow and Troy Morgan
A Crestron Authorized Independent Programmer and AMX Valued Independent Programmer, PanTech Design’s consultation, design, and programming services allow custom installers to easily execute projects ranging from large, whole-house automation to pro AV, retail, mega-yachts, and hospitality. By implementing a series of well-tested processes, PanTech Design eliminates valuable time associated with designing and programming a system.
The design and programming firm also provides installers with an array of tools to allow them to make changes to the variables throughout the programmed system without making modifications to the source code. Unlike other programming firms, who often intentionally withhold source code from the installer, PanTech Design equips custom installers with the information they need to easily modify how a system operates.
But that’s only part of the story, Morgan told me. “People don’t just come to us for our programming, though we’ve done fantastic work there,” he explained. “They’re coming to us because we can run a business and can tell them how their project is going and when it will be done. That’s the big difference between when we started [in 2005] and now.”
Morgan noted that PanTech Design offers consistency in pricing, design, documentation, programming, and results through its proprietary project management methodology, yet they’re careful to stay in the background on a project.
“We take a backseat approach. We don’t want to be in front of their client,” Morgan said. “We try to do a good job of training them on how to manage their customers’ expectations and provide the tools to do it, but we do it from a behind-the-scenes approach. We want to make sure we empower our clients on how to do things properly and provide them with tools to do it, but we don’t want to it for them.”
Upon careful and strategic consultation with installers, the team at PanTech Design develops comprehensive system design, complete with CAD drawings. Beyond the control products that the firm programs, PanTech system designs can also include detailed product specifications for any device connected to the system.
Using the system design as an easy-to-follow guideline, PanTech Design’s programming team follows a standards-based methodology to ensure that each system is programmed the exact same way, using the same labeling, layout, resources, etc. Every PanTech Design programmer is trained in the exact same manner meaning every programmer on the PanTech Design team can assist with every PanTech Design programmed system. ESCs can take comfort in knowing that their control system is programmed specifically to deliver constant and reliable operation.
It’s a process that has made an “outsourcing” believer out of recent PanTech client David Knittle, owner of Automation Specialists in Tucson, Arizona.
“Working with PanTech Design has resulted in a much tighter design,” Knittle said. “We are able to provide more benefits and features to the homeowner. Our installations also complete faster with much higher reliability. We have fewer callbacks to fix in-house programmer errors and carelessness than we had when we did it in-house. You don’t have to keep a programmer on-staff all of the time when you may not have 365 days of programming needs.”
Knittle added that during his time in the engineering industry building signal processing hardware around a software platform, outsourcing was commonplace. “The companies I worked for outsourced expertise when it could not be obtained internally or the cost of providing it internally proved to be more expensive than the outsource alternative. This is why I use PanTech.“