The Assurance Media Way: Becoming an industry leader by thinking outside the box
By Kelly Basile
Assurance Media reached an important milestone this year. The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary. This is no easy feat as the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that one in three small businesses survive to see ten years. So how did Assurance Media get to where it is today?
The story officially begins in 2009 when Jennifer McKenzie and Miriam Stellini acquired the 20‐person cabling division from a national company called MTM Technologies. After purchasing Info Systems in 2005, MTM Technologies incorporated its services into their IT offerings and support. However, after a few years, it was apparent to MTM that the cabling division obtained through Info Systems was difficult to implement and service at a national level.
MTM offered the cabling division along with a few faithful customers to McKenzie and Stellini, who saw an opportunity to turn the cabling division into who it is today: a multi‐faceted commercial technology company that delivers cost-effective services in cabling, premise security and audiovisual solutions. They named it Assurance Media.
From the beginning, this woman-owned business recognized the importance of establishing a company vision, mission statement and values. “These are not just pipe dreams or words plastered on the walls, they are lived and breathed,” said McKenzie. “Leadership is constantly communicating company goals to the team in order for everyone to do their part to reach the common goal.”
This company mindset and culture continues to drive the company forward as it grows. Yet, with rapid growth, comes challenges. One major challenge is finding talent. The skills needed to perform this line of work require years of experience that the current labor market simply lacks. Average tenue in this industry is one to three years, but it takes at least three years to gain the experience needed to perform well on a jobsite.
True to its innovative roots, Assurance Media tackled this barrier by thinking outside the box. The company’s highest performing technicians and project managers built inhouse training programs for each of its three practice areas around national code and standards. While the roots of these classes were based in raw skill and performance of tasks seen in the field, the presentation of the classes is uniquely The Assurance Media Way.
“The Assurance Media Way is always finding a solution to service our customers in the best way possible. One of our company values is to be completely customer-focused. We found that offering skills development courses inhouse allows us to provide top-notch, innovative service to our customers while also developing the industry’s top professionals,” said McKenzie. “Our training classes are the key to delivering the leading edge done right.”
Taking things a step further, Assurance Media also worked with the Department of Labor, Polytech Adult Education, vo‐tech schools and even competitors to develop a state standard for this specialty work as well as create co‐op and apprenticeship programs. These training programs didn’t exist before Assurance Media approached the State and offered to help create them.
“I find that the most important part of being a business owner is choosing the correct team to work with you,” reflects McKenzie. “Hiring people based on skill, yes, but attitude and drive are even more important. A team with a great attitude needs only a clear direction, the right tools and the freedom to do their job, and they will be successful at anything.”