Kenton Brothers Holiday Party Recap!

By Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers

As this year comes to a close, Kenton Brothers wishes you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

The KB Family gathered again this year to continue the tradition of celebrating our successes as a team. And we thought it would be best to tell the story through pictures, so here we go!

2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party

We started out with Stroud’s Catering.

Stroud’s catered and fried on site… extra delicious, hot and fantastic! If you are interested in Stroud’s catering your next event, visit their website!

2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party 2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party

Music provided by DJ Shark Attack

Luke Simon of Columbia’s DJ Shark Attack provided fantastic music for dancing!

DJ Shark Attack 2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party

Gina presented this year’s McGyver Award to Don Brownback.

In 2015, we created an award to pay tribute to the KB security professional who has the tenacity and creative problem solving skills to get the job done while overcoming any adversity they may encounter. We compare this ability to the famous TV show and character from the 1980’s, MacGyver, who could pretty much solve any predicament with some ingenuity and the use of a paper clip or multi-tool Swiss Army knife!

The definition of ‘to MacGyver’ something at KB is to fix something in a resourceful and improvisational way.

The 2021 prestigious ‘MacGyver award’ goes to Don Brownback. Congrats Don!

2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party Don Brownback

Games and More Games

After dinner we all hung out for intense Pickleball, death match Jinga, and not so intense mingling.

2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party 2021 Kenton Brothers Holiday Party

We hope 2021 has treated you well this year. Thank you for being a part of our story and our success! So enjoy a few more days of 2021 and let’s get ready for 2022 together!

Are you a firefighter at your company? Here are five coping tips.

By Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers

“They call me the fireman, that’s my name.”
– George Strait

(If you don’t get the song reference… click here.)

Neal Bellamy - KB FirefighterIn my time at KB, I have always been the fireman. I spend the majority of my day solving problems for my customers both internal and external. 8 times out of 10, the problems are pop-ups. I thought I’d take a moment to share what a morning might look like for me and some coping mechanisms I use to keep my sanity.

DUN, DUN 5:15 AM: Review what happened yesterday. Look at my schedule full well knowing it’s not really going to happen like that. I also read any emails that came through overnight. There’s one about the ERP that needs to get sent out to another teammate.

6:30 AM: Arrive at KB. I know this is the only part of my day that is going to go as planned SO I have a routine. Start the coffee, water my plant, take Boomer out, if he is with me. I always start the day with 3-5 things that need to get done before people start showing up at KB. Today, I have a few important, but not urgent things that need to get scheduled. I owe a client a list of parts, I need to schedule some training, I need to review other KB team’s calendars for coordination with the ERP installation (previous blog post). Review some parts for a job that we had questions about late on Friday.

6:38 AM: Get coffee. Send an email about training options for the customer. 1 thing started, 4 to go.

6:47 AM: The first fire. I remember that the microphone didn’t work last week for the tech meeting. I steal borrow the microphone from another room and set it up where the guys will be meeting. I finish just before the meeting starts. (This fire is on me, I knew I wanted to get it done, but I forgot to put it on the calendar.)

7:00 AM: Attend the tech meeting. I usually like to listen to the tech meeting. I enjoy hearing how everyone is doing, listening for areas that I can improve, and being available if there is an area I can help. I don’t run the meeting any more. Eric, Paul, and Kip do a much better job than I ever did, but I love still being connected.

Firefighters

While I’m listening to the tech meeting, I start working on the parts list. I determine the parts that are needed but find another related job where the wrong parts were ordered. I order the right parts, including replacing the parts ordered incorrectly, and make myself a mental note to talk to the PM. Second thing on the list is completed. I stumbled across the second fire but was able to fix it right away. I document the parts ordered in the system and parts reviewed for later installation. Sometimes reviewing the parts can open a can of worms… thankfully today it did not.

7:32 AM: I have a few moments before most people (and fires) arrive, so I take a moment to start another “Planned” task. Before I can make a parts list for a customer, a fire breaks out. I’m reminded that we need to order air filters for the building. I stop what I’m doing and order the air filters. Then I go back to the parts list.

7:38 AM: Review emails. I see I have a reply from the training scheduling and the ERP strings. I reply to any needed emails and flag the ones that need a longer answer.

8:00 AM: Find Project Manager about the parts review. Tell them what I did and what the timeline is for the new parts coming in.

8:12 AM: I have an un-planned hour, so I start reviewing quotes to make sure they are as accurate as possible. Some look great, I forward on to the salesperson. Some I have questions on and will review with the engineer later.

8:36 AM: Sales and Engineering came to ask questions about a design we did for them. I did not do the design, so I look up the quote, ask a bunch of questions and determine we made the right suggestion. I explain it to the salesperson who will then go explain it to the customer.

8:58 AM: Read emails again. I have a confirmation for training. I add it to my calendar and invite the customer and another from my team. Again, I reply to any emails and flag any that need a response.

FirefightersI’ll spare you the rest of the day, but let’s just says it has the same theme. For some people, I know the pace and interruptions might cause a person to self-implode. I certainly didn’t start with the time management skills to deal with a day full of firefighting. But I was able to develop some habits along the way to keep me sane.

1) Always start the day with a plan.

I start every morning by reading automated reports, all of my emails from overnight, and looking at the calendar. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve looked to see what “Today” is going to be, but it’s the last reminder before the day starts. I also review my team’s notes from the previous day to see if they are stuck somewhere or I have a teachable moment that I need to capitalize on.

2) “If you can do it in less than 5 minutes, do it now.”

I’m sure someone famous said this… and there is probably a whole dogma about it. For me, I happened to hear it somewhere and took it to heart. Five minutes is longer than you think. For me, it’s, “if whatever interruption comes in and I have the information needed to solve it right now, solve it right now.” It will keep you from trying to remember to deal with it later. This includes asking others for information that you need to solve the problem. Send the email or ask the question now, giving that person time to respond.

3) If you can’t solve it, mark it for later.

Either flag your email or put it on the calendar for when you can solve it.

4) Use a priority system.

If you don’t prioritize the incoming issues, you’ll end up solving the loudest issues, which may not always be the most important. I use the Eisenhower Matrix.

5) Use downtime, even minutes, effectively.

I receive between 300 and 400 emails every day. I use the time between meetings and other downtime to review those emails. I follow the “Do it less than 5 minutes” rule for each. I don’t get many calls or texts, but If I do, I review those first.

There are firefighters at every company. They are “the fixers”. It’s part of the job that I love here at Kenton Brothers. If a few of these pointers help out a fellow firefighter, it’s just one more problem I helped fix.

Cheers to all the firefighters out there!

Happy Halloween! Want to see something Spooky?

By David Strickland, Vice President of Kenton Brothers

Have you ever heard of Phasmophobia? Yep – it’s the fear of ghosts.

Most of us get a little nervous energy or a bit of a thrill when we hear a ghost story or see a ghost video on the internet, but some of us are “deathly” afraid. As we all know, the best way to overcome a fear is to face it. In that “Spirit” the Kenton Brothers family thought it would be fun to share some ghost stories with you to celebrate Halloween. What’s unique about these videos is that they’re all captured on commercial video surveillance systems.

Happy Halloween 2021 Happy Halloween 2021

Have a Spook-Tacular Halloween! It’s time to get these videos startled!

Here are our top choices for videos that show Ghosts and strange events on Security cameras.

Kenton Brothers Implements NetSuite – 5 Critical Steps to Consider

By Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers

Here at Kenton Brothers, we’re investing in our systems to help support our customers, both internal and external, in a way that can make us faster to respond, with better information and with more organization than we’ve ever have had before. We’ve done this before, at least four times that I know of… the latest in 2015. At that time, we decided we could no longer have multiple areas for information and that all data had to live in one database. While that system worked from 2015 until now, we’re outgrowing its capabilities. Two years ago we set out on a quest to find out what the next system would look like.

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning

Kenton Brothers - Netsuite ERP FeaturesERP is applicable to almost any kind of business from manufacturing to service companies to franchises. Furthermore, there are hundreds of software packages that claim to be an ERP. In some sense, they are. But their capabilities can be vastly different.

There are software packages that you can buy off the shelf and implement yourself for $40/month. And there is software that you can implement for several thousand dollars per year.

2nd Step – Evaluating Software

This brings us to our second step (Yes, I skipped the first step, hold please…) We evaluated lots of software packages, some were industry specific to physical security, some were generic and could be modified, some were specific to industries that were related to ours. That’s when we learned what the first step should have been.

1st Step – Know Your Business

Gina says, “Without a destination, any road will get you there.” In this case, if you don’t know what you want, any ERP will fit. Which is where we got stuck the first time around. There were lots of options for an ERP that might work. We really hadn’t thought about the areas that were going well, the areas that could be improved, and the areas that needed vast improvement.

We really had to step back and look at the business and decide what was most important to us. And we should have gone through this process before we started looking at software… but lessons learned. I wish that we had found some silver bullet software for our business, but what we found is some are better than others in different areas. Some give and take is required.

KB breaks the traditional mold. Sure, we’re a service company. We come out and fix things if they need to be fixed. We’re also an installation company. When something is old and needs to be replaced, or you have a new need, we do that too. But, if you just want the parts and can install it yourself, we do that as well. Finally, if you’re not sure what you need and just want experts to lead you through the entire process, that’s our bread and butter.

I’ll spare you all the details, but this ERP project was not going to be easy.

KB NetSuite Project TimelineWe talked about our business and documented what was going to be required to be successful. At the end of the day, we determined that we needed something to be flexible and “future proof”.

Once we determined what success would look like, it quickly narrowed the field of possibilities. We learned that industry specific was not going to work for us. There is no industry specific software that exists for KB.

We looked at two competing software platforms that were flexible, future proof and could be customized to KB. That’s when we realized we were going to need an expert.

3rd Step – Find an expert that you can trust.

Meridian Business worked with us early on. They talked with us about the capabilities of NetSuite, long before we decided that NetSuite was a good option. They engaged with us to learn about our business and researched solutions for our needs. Even though we looked at other solutions, we ultimately came back to Meridian Business because they know our business better than anyone else. They dedicated a lot of time and energy understanding our needs and desires.

We started our implementation with Meridian Business in November of 2020. We will go live on January 3rd, 2022. That’s more than a year of meetings, planning, and discussion. It seemed like a long time at first, but now we are 70% of the way complete it seems right on. If we could all stop business tomorrow, pluck the most knowledgeable, most valued people out of the business and sit down for 3-4 months straight, sure we could accomplish the same goal. But business can’t stop. There are customers to serve and people that need paychecks, so we must, as David says, “Paint the train while it’s moving.”

4th Step – Take the time for extensive testing.

KB NetSuite TestingOver the last 9 months, I’ve been able to engage the right people in the business to help make the right decisions. We’re not making snap decisions that are obsolete before we go live. It’s important to actively engage business leaders so they’re not overwhelmed by the coming changes.

Something I thought was odd, was the amount of time dedicated to testing. Surely if everyone knew the requirements (Step 1), testing should not take long. Boy, I was wrong.

There are two issues with requirements:

1. They are never really expressed with exact detail.
2. They are never really understood with exact detail.

Testing takes care of both issues. We have experts working through examples of our typical scenarios to determine where something isn’t right. What we’re finding is that we didn’t understand our own requirements as well as we thought we did. The result? Neither did any of the partners.

Our integration involves five different companies trying to merge their own software and ideas into our final solution. This is no small feat. Testing will take us more than two months. If I could only give you one word of advice, it would be Plan for Testing. (And don’t cheat the timeline.)

5th Step – User Training

Testing should be over soon and we’ll start user testing and training. I am sure we will find additional tweaks that we need to make to the system, but I am confident that the early groundwork we did asking lots of questions and testing our workflows will minimize the amount of work we will have to do in this step. (Famous last words, right?)

With all of the preparation, testing, and training, I know KB will be ready to provide better support to all of our customers and have a platform to lead us into the next stage of our growth. If you’re a customer or partner of Kenton Brothers, I would love to get your feedback as you begin interacting with us through our NetSuite software in January 2022. At KB, we always strive for continuous improvement which doesn’t happen without feedback. So thank you in advance… and here’s to a new and improved KB!

If you have any additional questions about our NetSuite implementation, leave a comment or give us a call!

Remote Support on Demand: Unique Solution for 24-Hour Needs

The Remote Services Group video library is another way that Kenton Brothers is creating innovative solutions for our customers.