By Marianne Weaver
After spending years in the military, followed by several more in the private sector, Kevin Williams, co-founder and CEO of TekConnX, partnered with his wife, Meschelle, and fellow veteran Earl Bentley to strike out on their own to provide an array of services and solutions to both the federal and public sectors.
“Bentley and I are both veterans. I am a service-disabled veteran,” Williams said. “Combined, we have extensive knowledge in project, program and sales management.”
Those skills allowed them to build a company that provides a broad range of information technology design and consulting services to commercial and federal client organizations, including the design, installation, integration and maintenance of customized collaborative audio-visual and social media solutions; and threat detection security solutions.
Building the Business
After separating from the military, Williams spent several years in exterior building restoration before transitioning into information technology (IT). He worked at several small federal contracting firms and ran environmental services programs for healthcare facilities at Ft. Meade, Ft. Detrick, Ft. Belvoir and a
VA hospital before making the leap to the private sector as a vice president of sales for a local IT firm.
“After being let go from our previous employers, we decided that we would continue doing what we loved as owners and not as employees,” said Williams. “We had proven that we could make significant progress in growing other people’s companies, and there was no reason we could not do it for ourselves.”
TekConnX LLC (pronounced “Tek-Connects”) was founded in 2013. According to Williams, the company focuses on four core areas:
1. Interactive collaborative audio-visual space;
2. Social media solutions;
3. Threat detection solutions; and
4. Smart trash can solutions.
“Being in the service business for as long as we have, you learn to listen to your customers and help them meet their needs for effective and efficient operations,” said Williams. “Both Earl and I have extensive knowledge in security, command and control, integration and project management, and we knew that we could effectively assist clients to meet their needs.”
Offering Audio-Visual and Social Media Services
TekConnX first opened its doors by providing audio-visual design build services for design firms, churches and nonprofits.
“We began to build our business based on the relationships we’d made in the industry,” said Williams. “As we continued to grow, the word-of-mouth began to travel.”
In 2014, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) was expanding its facilities to include a state-of-the-art, 50-person conference room. Ilana Esterrich, CSBA chief administrative officer, had heard good reviews of TekConnX.
“Our mission is to provide timely, impartial and insightful analyses to senior decision makers in the executive and legislative branches, as well as to the media and the broader national security establishment,” she said. “Our reputation is founded on [providing] the highest quality analytic studies, concept development, scenario development, budgetary analyses, workshops and seminars and war gaming. When [we were] looking for an organization to provide, install and support the technology capabilities CSBA sought, TekConnX came highly recommended. From the initial consultation through design and recommendation to implementation and testing, the TekConnX team has provided timely response, best-price-for-value and outstanding levels of service.”
Based on feedback from early clients, TekConnX expanded its offerings to include social media solutions, such as strategy and marketing, monitoring and engagement, campaign management, and social media audit and research.
According to Williams, said their systems can track, in real-time, anything a person posts publicly: “We design and build systems that give our customers information about anything anyone posts on social media, real time, to make educated decisions based on data shared on social media.”
Tracking the Threats
After establishing the company in the audio-visual (A/V) market, Williams began to hear that clients wanted more innovative and emerging technology solutions.
“We had a client who had a parking lot where people tailgated before sporting events,” said Williams. “During the tailgating, fights would break out; people would get shot and stabbed. Our client was getting sued because they did not deploy sufficient technology proactively to protect their patrons from harm or
danger. So we worked to create a solution to meet the need.”
TekConnX designed its patent-pending “COPS” solution, which is a security solution that incorporates optimized LED lighting, HD, IP video surveillance with programmable analytics sensors, including threat, motion, and gunshot detection, facial and object recognition, and tracking, thermal, smoke, fire and chemical detection. Unlike other solutions that provide just lighting, or lighting combined with video surveillance, the TekConnX solution adapts to its surroundings. Without activity in a protected lot, the
150-watt lights power down 30 percent, thus saving energy, but when activity is detected, they come on immediately.
When an event or activity is detected by the cameras and sensors, security, facilities personnel and first responders are immediately notified by the system. The system sends exact coordinates of the incident, so first responders are not searching the entire lot or building.
Providing Smart Trashcans
To combine high-tech with green options, TekConnX has an exclusive reseller agreement for the Smarter Trash “Impactor.” The smart trashcans are high-traffic/high-volume waste and recycling compactors that Williams said could save 2,000 trash bags from the landfill annually.
But that’s not all, he added. Drawing on technology developed for the patent-pending security system, the trashcan can be outfitted with threat detection and surveillance that, he said, could head-off a terrorist attack like the bombing at the Manchester Arena in England.
“We took a trashcan and made it a rocket ship,” said Williams. “We can even wrap a can with blast-mitigating film material, so if a bomb goes off in it, it won’t throw shards of shrapnel.”
Although the initial cost of the smart trashcan might be higher than the typical can, Williams noted that the wrap could display paid advertising, and the three 22-inch monitors on top of the digital version also provide a digital signage platform for clients to add an additional revenue stream.
“We are proud to provide solutions that make facilities more efficient and proactively safer using innovative technologies that protect patrons, mitigate risk and reduce liabilities all over the world,” said Williams. “Our intent is to steadily grow our business and to continue giving back to the communities where we live, work and play.”
Marianne Weaver ([email protected]) is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh and an MJ from Temple University. She lives in Gainesville, Va., with her husband and two children.