Vision Systems – Working for a smart, secure future

May 19, 2021

Vision Systems

Working for a smart, secure future

 

Business View Magazine interviews representatives of Vision Systems for our focus on the Security Sector in New Zealand

Clients of Vision Systems throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific are treated to exceptional levels of service, support and high-quality electrical, security & data solutions – and it’s all just second nature to this ‘visionary’ company. From supermarkets, apartment buildings  and large commercial projects to residential maintenance, the Vision Systems team does it all. The firm specialises solely in electronic security, electrical installation, data cabling and maintenance, working extensively throughout the Pacific Islands undertaking installations in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Rarotonga.

Vision Systems co-founders Tristan Bailey, Business Director, and Darren Johnson, General Manager, are passionate innovators who continue to put their time, heart and soul into the company. Bailey recalls, “Darren and myself started Vision Systems 14 years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand. It grew throughout the South Island and evolved into the North Island over the last 10 years. From there, we’ve progressively grown through New Zealand into a national provider for electrical security fibre and data, with 25 to 30 percent growth each year. Technology has changed drastically during that time, from a non-IT based world to everything being controlled through networks and IP controllers. When we first started, there was only two of us and now we have close to 70 employees and about 15 contractors who work for us.”

Vision Systems has two main business divisions: electrical /data and security, which are about equal in size. Johnson explains, “The electrical division includes data systems – running the network cabling structure for IP systems. We started out just in security, and about 12 years ago we saw an opportunity to grow into the electrical market because people wanted to tie up that whole package – electrical and security under one contract. We’re finding more recently that the security contracts are a lot larger than they were 10 years ago and now we’re tendering and quoting for separate work, whether it’s electrical or security.”

Visions Systems just do the electronic components of a security system. The monitoring or guard response side is normally dealt with by different companies throughout New Zealand. Ninety percent of the company’s work is commercial but when they do residential, it’s multi-million dollar houses. That top echelon of properties where the security and electrical package could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Johnson notes, “Everything we do for residential is ‘smart’. It’s all controlled through phone apps, everything from blinds to irrigation to audio. We can control your toaster, close your windows when it’s raining… literally anything that the owner requires to be automated can be these days.”

To keep up on all the latest technology and trends, the Vision Systems team undergoes extensive training courses. Until last year that involved in-person training but now due to COVID-19, they are mostly online courses because many of the Vision System suppliers are overseas and travel is restricted. Bailey explains, “Much of the training has also morphed from smaller systems. For example, we might have been working on a system for five years before that new technology came around, so the guys have a good understanding of it already.”

When it comes to the importance of building good customer relationships, Bailey confirms, “Everything is about the partnership with the client. They have entrusted us to undertake their security or their electrical or data, so for us it’s got to be a trusted relationship and a two-way partnership. We’ve got clients we’ve dealt with for more than 15 years, and they have that confidence behind them that everything we put in or deploy is going to work when they need it to work, which is the most crucial thing.”

Vision Systems doesn’t do a lot of marketing per se. It’s done more through strong relationships they’ve built over time. Some national contracts and large businesses that they started working for seven years ago still offer a consistent flow of work. Rarely do they only do a single job for a client.

Johnson offers as an example, the shootings that happened in Christchurch two years ago at the Muslim mosque. He recounts, “The government released funds for a “Save the Communities” project and the Jewish community were the first to pick up on those funds. We successfully negotiated with them to use those funds to upgrade all the security around the synagogues in New Zealand. From that, we created a relationship with the Muslim community for the same thing. Those are multi-million dollar contracts that we got involved in – starting first with relationships, doing a good job, and then just carrying on. It’s very rewarding. I see what’s happening with people being abusive outside the synagogues or the mosques and I can see first-hand that the security systems we put into these sites is directly helping them make their community safer.”

Adapting to pandemic protocols has been interesting for Vision Systems. Because the business is classed as an essential service it means the staff is still required to go out and operate on clients’ premises. According to Johnson, “We developed our own app at the time of the initial lockdown in New Zealand; it’s a way for our staff to log on each day and declare their COVID status. So we’ve got contact tracing within our own organisation, if it’s required. When Auckland particularly goes into a level change it does slow our processes down. It’s harder for us to get around to some sites and do work, but generally we’ve been pretty lucky in New Zealand with the response we’ve done on COVID. The main thing it has changed… we did a lot of work in the South Pacific and the pandemic has stopped that simply because there’s no movement between countries in this area of the world.”

Vision Systems, quite simply, is a great place to work. As a result, most of their employees are long-term, with very little turnover of staff. The company culture is very open, everyone gets along and puts the effort in. They all understand that people have tough days sometimes and everyone is there to help each other out. The firm does offer a very generous initiative that helps with staff retention. It’s a “bonus scheme” – for five years service at Vision Systems you get $10,000 and for ten years service you receive $20,000. “We like to recognize people,” says Johnson, “and reward them for length of service, because 10 years is a long time to work for someone. So, every year we’re allocating from $60 to $80 thousand dollars in bonuses that we’re paying out to staff. We love giving out the bonuses and a lot of the staff that are just starting with us can see that people stay working here. Other benefits we give the staff on top of those bonuses help with retention as well.”

Those extra benefits come in the form of education. The company doesn’t just train the staff on electrical and security, they also offer courses around business management and project management. These courses can enhance the person’s skills and give them diplomas which they can use as a springboard to further their career. The management understands that not everyone’s going to work for Vision Systems until they retire. Johnson explains, “If we can help them by giving them knowledge around something they’re passionate about, in the three years while they’re doing that diploma they’re still working for us and bringing the skills they’re learning into our business. This is great because they’re bringing the latest and greatest knowledge around a variety of business operations. So it’s powerful for us.”

Visions Systems’ goals for the future continue around growth and bringing in the right people to structure that growth. To accommodate the increased business, Johnson adds, “We’re just in the process of fitting out our office space in Christchurch CBD, so hopefully a couple months down the road we’ll have shining new premises.”

Bailey sums up his thoughts on what lies ahead, sharing, “I would like to see more of today’s youth coming into the industry with a stronger sense of what they’re trying to achieve in their life. With so much technology today, we have them coming to us straight out of school as apprentices but their skill set is very limited. I can see there’s going to be some big gaps in the trades industry, so within five years I’d like to see Vision Systems working alongside the New Zealand Security Association (NZSA) or the Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand (ECANZ) to develop a training plan or program to help the young people with education and awareness of the industry.”

AT A GLANCE

Vision Systems

What: Provider of high-quality electrical, security & data solutions

Where: Headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand

Website: www.visionsystems.co.nz 

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