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Columbia Business Monthly

#24 - A3 Communications

Nov 01, 2017 11:10AM ● Published by Emily Stevenson

#24 A3 Communications, Inc.
Columbia, S.C.
Brian Thomas, President and CEO

A3 Communications, Inc. provides IT and communications solutions including physical security, unified communications, enterprise networking, audio/visual, and electrical services. Founded in 1990 and headquartered in Columbia, the company has eight locations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee and provides services across the United States.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Our success is the outcome of consistently listening to our clients’ demands and adapting to their needs. Our flexibility has allowed us to identify additional service offerings as quickly as our clients require them. Most system integrators narrowly focus on one specialty, while A3 Communications combines multiple technology and security systems to provide true turnkey solutions under one umbrella. This approach eliminates the need to engage with multiple contractors and provides a single source for our clients’ technology and security needs. The A3 Communications team is constantly seeking ways to improve our clients’ experience through our unique, consultative approach.

What do you see as your company’s greatest opportunities in the future?
Technology is constantly changing. This evolution, and our ability to adapt quickly, ensures our sustainable growth. We drive ourselves to the forefront of new solutions and will continue to embrace that model. Based on our past success and future projections, we also recognize an increased demand for integrated systems in several key markets throughout the United States. As we continue our geographic expansion and focus on a superior customer experience over the next several years, A3 Communications will create greater opportunities for our team to grow.      

What are your biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
As a rapidly growing company, our biggest challenge has been finding large numbers of qualified individuals to staff our offices. With a need for all types of experience, including technicians, project managers, administrative staff and engineers, it’s vital we collaborate with local colleges, trade schools, and universities to access a diverse pool of talent. These partnerships have already provided our team with valuable interns and skilled candidates who are eager to contribute to our success. 

However, we realize that it’s equally important to promote a culture that supports continuing education, network opportunities, professional growth, and certification/licensing to retain loyal employees. By empowering our staff to make important decisions about their careers, we believe we can establish an innovative and fulfilled team.

What advice can you offer someone just starting a business?
Anyone who is starting a business must have an extraordinary degree of passion about their product and goals, even when facing inevitable roadblocks. You will need to work long hours, including weekends, and commit an entirely different level of dedication to your role than what’s normally expected in a typical nine-to-five position. You will also have to make personal sacrifices, but if you surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs, you can learn from their triumphs and mistakes. If you focus on your goal, remain flexible, and preemptively align yourself with people who share your passion and values, your path will be clear.

What is your strategy for innovation?
By fully embracing change as the strategy that initially separated A3 Communications from the pack, we’ve learned that nothing lasts forever. At the core of our company, we believe that contentment is stagnation and the primary enemy of success. As a result, innovation of our solutions is an ongoing process that forces us to look outward, taking risks by approaching familiar obstacles from new angles. 

How many employees do you have and do you plan to add any in the coming year?
As A3 Communications continues to thrive and gain new territory and customers, it’s vital we focus on hiring and retaining talented individuals to support our goals. In the last three years alone, we’ve doubled our workforce to nearly 140 employees to staff our four most recently opened offices. With our growth showing no signs of slowing, our Human Resources Department has partnered with each division to implement a mass hiring campaign. Consisting of a combined imitative of referral incentives, an increased presence at career fairs and networking events, and social media and website announcements, we plan to hire multiple new team members in a variety of roles, including technicians, administration staff, and project managers.

Have there been any entrepreneurs in your family?
My father, Joe Thomas, is the founder and current chairman of A3 Communications, Inc. In 1990, he combined his interest, experience, and technological background to create the thriving corporation we have today. Initially formed as a local software development company, my father gained traction assisting the State of South Carolina in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. He then became an early adopter of today’s most widely used technology, laying the foundation for our success.

How old were they when they started the company?
My father was 38 years old when he founded A3 Communications, Inc.

How is your company legally structured?
A3 Communications, Inc., is a family-owned business structured as an S Corporation. 

How much money did you use to start your business?
My father acquired a franchise called Entre Business Center out of bankruptcy for $35,000.00 through a bank loan.
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