- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 7 mins
Jack and Jane Morgan founded Trans-Tel Inc. (Trans-Tel) in Okmulgee, Okla., in 1974, initially operating as a small cabling yard for Southwestern Bell. Trans-Tel moved to the Oklahoma City metro area in 1978. The company began in the days of copper telephone cable, and over nearly four decades Trans-Tel has successfully transitioned to become a world leader in information technology, design-build services and products. Working closely with leading manufacturers and distributors of IT components, Trans-Tel has expanded its capabilities and geographic footprint to become a key strategic partner for major companies and federal agencies in need of secure telecommunications and data infrastructure.
Trans-Tel has organically amassed the proficiencies to provide an impressive array of turnkey services. The company is committed to designing, installing, managing and defending clients’ networks and distribution systems, whether they are optical in nature, wireless, or other essential defense technologies that empower and protect the enterprise.
From its humble beginnings to its current operations, Trans-Tel has expanded to employ over 200 technologists, engineers, technicians and project managers, spread out between headquarters in Norman, Okla., and branch offices in Seattle, Wash.; San Antonio, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and soon in Washington, D.C. Working with strategic partners – such as Alcatel-Lucent, Accu-Tech, Anixter International, CSC, Northrop Grumman , TASC Inc., IBM and the Harris Corporation (Harris) – Trans-Tel delivers an increasingly diverse set of services. Trans-Tel counts among its many satisfied clients such nationally prominent names as ConocoPhillips, the United States Post Service, Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Transportation (DoT), and most notably the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), thus all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The majority of this roster has been procured in the last decade, and has been possible because of Trans-Tel’s ability to recognize and foster those who demonstrate an aptitude for the different facets of a complex, customer-minded business. Bryan Shank, president and COO of Trans-Tel, illustrates this through his own history in the industry.
“I worked part-time with Bell Wireless while in college and stayed in the business after I was finished with school,” explains Shank. “I started with Trans-Tel from ground zero as an apprentice technician. I was very blessed in my career development to have a mentor in our founder, Jack Morgan. He brought a lot of us under his wing and taught not only the technical fundamentals, but the importance of relationships in our industry.
“Jack retired in 2010 and serves as our chairman of the board,” continues Shank. “Jay Eliason took over as CEO in 2010 and immediately began to build an even more aggressive growth strategy. We have expanded tremendously because Jay and I understand the importance of developing not only current and future service offerings, but we also recognize how critical the proper development of our staff is moving forward.”
Networking a World of Services
The result of these combined efforts has netted almost a billion dollars worth of project revenue over the years helping reinforce fiber optics as a transmission medium for mission-critical networks in both the federal and commercial sectors.
“Every project is a learning tool,” reflects Shank. “However, the capabilities of Trans-Tel took a dramatic turn when we were awarded our first multimillion dollar DoD project in 2000. This specific project was with the Air Force, and it was not only a different type of customer than we were used to dealing with, it was also a large-scale, multi-year project. In the process of handling this task order Trans-Tel, by default, had little choice but to rapidly expand and learn to better manage our resources. This was the tipping point that took us from a small shop with revenue of $5 million to $10 million per year to a company accustomed to operating much larger efforts with projected revenue of $70 million in 2012. The Harris ITS NETCENTS 1 IDIQ contract has by far been our biggest revenue source in last seven years.”
This strong economic growth stands as an example of the ongoing importance relationships play in Trans-Tel’s operations. This Air Force opportunity came about through a long-standing relationship with Northrop Grumman. “They knew of us from smaller projects we performed over the years, and they reached out to Trans-Tel with an opportunity that was as new to them as it was to us,” explains Shank. “We had faith in each other, so we, with no small dose of trepidation, signed up for the team. At the end of the day it turned out well, and the nature of Trans-Tel’s business changed forever.”
With the move to larger contracts Trans-Tel became very proactive in the development of the company’s philosophy toward quality and efficiency. “In the federal space historically there is a level of contract regulation that is much more in-depth than when working with a garden-variety commercial customer,” says Shank.
“We also have to be Defense Contract Audit Agency [DCAA] compliant, with accounting procedures that are open to audit and records-keeping that must remain absolutely spotless,” continues Shank. “We use software systems such as Deltek, which have significantly improved our operations since implementation. While these procedures and operational components were initially daunting, getting organized for government work allowed us to operate much more efficiently and has given us an advantage over our competition within commercial markets. ”
Trans-Tel’s senior management has institutionalized a process to continually evaluate how the company operates in an effort to capture innovative or inefficient activities. This forces the company to continually ask the right questions and find ways to negate risk moving forward, and ensures Trans-Tel functions at the highest possible level. A consistent understanding of what could be done better has allowed the company to constantly improve. Some of the tools implemented to improve efficiencies for ongoing federal projects include the following: biometric scanners and web-based reporting at all sites to keep time sheets more accurate; digital tablets assigned to engineers to allow for designing on the go; GPS tracking on all fleet vehicles to assure the best utilization of all assets, and more.
Committed to the Ongoing Success of Specialized Clients
The quest for the effective, efficient application of knowledge, skills and techniques has been at the core of Trans-Tel’s expansion strategy. Building operations around the philosophies defined by the Project Management Institute, Trans-Tel has tied together its project results and business goals, developing its scope and resources to deliver on-time, on-budget solutions to the end-user, while simultaneously learning, integrating and executing a focus unique to the company.
In the quest to make Trans-Tel even more effective the company has established regional offices focused on providing specific and more responsive services and support to customers. Trans-Tel’s San Antonio location is a prime example of how the company is making investments in customer relations and providing targeted expertise and services through hosting a colocation lab. The workspace is specifically configured to support the new Air Force Cyber Command and other DoD network management/network defense organizations. The facility is a state-of-the-art technology lab where Trans-Tel has partnered with IBM and Commscope to introduce emerging technologies and evaluate solutions and develop strategies that will improve the company’s cyber defense capability. Additionally, Trans-Tel has partnered with the Panduit Corporation and the Optical Cable Corporation to establish an enterprise solutions lab in the company’s Tulsa, Okla., facility. Trans-Tel’s next office will open soon within the Washington, D.C., Beltway and will focus on the defense centric market that Trans-Tel has recently extended to DoD facilities as far as Europe and the Pacific Rim.
Efficiency has led Trans-Tel to self-perform an increasing amount of work over the past few years. Currently the ratio of work done in-house versus subcontracts has reached 80 percent, recently reinforced by the launch of Trans-Tel Construction, a division formed to handle outside plant work, including directional boring. Trans-Tel Construction was recently awarded a $2.6 million contract to install Corning Fiber Optic cable for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation broadband initiative. What precipitated this was observing the amount of subcontracting needed on-site during projects such as one in 2007 when Harris brought Trans-Tel to Santa Rosa Island in Florida for one of the world’s longest sub-ocean floor directional boring projects.
At Santa Rosa Island Trans-Tel oversaw the installation of a hardened, hurricane survivable fiber optic distribution system placed in continuous runs in excess of four miles beneath the Santa Rosa Sound. In the future Trans-Tel Construction will do further installation of manholes, underground conduit, trenching and boring for complete end-to-end outside plant installations without the need for costly subcontracting.
Innovation and quality is a hallmark of Trans-Tel. Trans-Tel is proud of its ISO-9002 certification and every employee puts the quality of the work they do as the most important part of their job.
While Shank recognizes the company was founded within the land line industry, he also notes how far wireless has progressed. “We’re seeing municipalities deploying wireless mesh devices to stoplights, for instance,” says Shank. “We also believe wireless Internet is becoming something that impacts a lot of communities. As wireless technology continues to become a faster and cheaper, Trans-Tel is investing its resources to keep up with the needs of smaller municipal organizations such as school districts and tier-two cities who may adopt the ‘free wireless for everybody plan.'”
A major investment for Trans-Tel over the next few years will be in Network Management and Network Defense. Government and commercial enterprises alike are challenged with securing their digital communications and data due to the ever-present and -changing threat. Trans-Tel intends to provide best-in-class solutions, proven though operational testing, that can protect state secrets yet be made available to even the company’s smallest size customers. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is yet another investment that Trans-Tel is making through becoming a certified PCI assessor. This provides Trans-Tel the opportunity to assist credit card processors and retailers challenged with implementing the new PCI-DSS mandated by the major credit card companies. The goal is to significantly improve network security from the card swipe at the retailer to the processors, thus reducing credit card fraud.
In addition the company is diversifying its product offering to include fire, security and digital signage solutions with partners Genetec and AMAG to name a few. In all new areas of service Trans-Tel will continue to deliver services competitively with unquestioned quality and workmanship.
Maintaining all the support needed by even the most demanding of clients, Trans-Tel Inc. and its highly skilled manufacturer-trained engineers and technicians will continue reinforcing its standing as the reputable, reliable source of industry-leading data and telecommunications solutions.
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