Project Spotlight: City Union Mission

By Alana Hanly, Security Consultant at Kenton Brothers

City Union Mission LogoMany natives recognize City Union Mission as one of Kansas City’s long-standing organizations committed to ending the cycle of homelessness and poverty for the underserved men, women and children in the area. Since 1924, City Union Mission has run, operated and flourished in part through the donation and assistance of many individuals, churches, groups, foundations and businesses that have a heart for the poor and homeless in Kansas City.

Recently, City Union Mission reached out to many integrators in the area seeking proposals on how to help their organization, now occupying 14 different properties, keep their people, property and assets safe. We are so fortunate to have won their business and the opportunity to show them how it’s done: two large projects each completed in a single month. That’s the KB Way.

One Building at a Time? Not Kenton Brothers

City Union Mission Project - 2022In order to upgrade multiple facilities, most organizations have to go through the process one at a time.

For City Union Mission, their first priority was their Admin Building. Initially they had an idea of the direction they wanted to go for access control at this facility, but ultimately decided that a Gallagher Security solution was the platform they wanted for their facilities. For this project, Kenton Brothers was tasked to electronically secure 16 doors and their vehicle gate at this location. On the surface, that might seem simple enough, but there are no projects without hurdles.

For this particular project the obstacle was understanding and organizing all of the key players to develop a complete solution that encompassed the most important mission objectives. Our Senior Security Consultant, Kevin Whaley, worked extensively with City Union Mission’s IT and Security team to ensure the final plan would meet their current and future needs. Upon completion of the project and following up with the CIO, Mark Rondaeu shared, “The Gallagher System is just impressive, and when we have questions about anything your team is quick to answer. Your team really knows what they are talking about.”

From Kansas City to Warsaw

City Union Mission Project - 2022While we were working on the Admin Building Project, the City Union Mission team also tasked us with their next important location: their Youth Camp.

The Youth Camp covers over 800 acres! The City Union Mission Camp in the Ozarks is a place for children from low-income families to get away, learn and grow in a positive setting. For them, having a good surveillance system that allows them full viewing coverage of their critical risk points was crucial. Kenton Brothers installed a Hanhwa Techwin commercial video surveillance solution that can withstand the fluctuating outdoor climate of the Midwest. We also recommended a maintenance plan to ensure their investment lasts.

This project required close coordination with City Union Mission because of the tight deadlines we needed to meet along with the various players that were in charge of the completion of the many project milestones. Like creating flawless rows of Tetris, the project management team had a lot of people putting a great amount of effort into what became a great result.

Sometimes our most remarkable project moments take place after a project is finished.

It’s not often when reviewing a project with a customer for feedback that we hear their most memorable part of it was our billing. This is something we rarely hear about when getting post project feedback. But as the project completed and City Union Mission paid off the investment of their new systems, it came to our Accounting Department’s attention that we were actually overpaid! When speaking to Mark about this, he declared, “When your team called us and let us know we overpaid, I went to our [leadership] and told them we cannot do business with anyone else in the area. To have such high integrity means so much to us! And because of that, we look forward to a long partnership with Kenton Brothers.”

At Kenton Brothers, we’re proud to partner with organizations as compassionate as City Union Mission. This project was a great reminder why Customer Focus and Integrity are some of the core values we live by.

Thank you again to City Union Mission for a wonderful new relationship and a successful project.

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Project Spotlight: Allen County Sheriff’s Office

Allen County Intercom ProjectBy Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers

The Allen County Sheriff’s Office intercom system is part of the critical infrastructure that allows communication throughout the detention center. It serves as a tool for safety and security for officers and detainees equally. The existing system was operational, but aging. As part of the critical infrastructure, we needed to make sure it stays operational as well as make it possible to add future capabilities.

The server room is tight.

Allen County Intercom ProjectWith two equipment racks and cabinets on the wall, there wasn’t much room for testing and repairing any failed equipment. Every wire was in conduit extending down to the racks and cabinets, adding further difficulty to any troubleshooting. Replacing the intercoms was also our opportunity to re-organize the server room, consolidate equipment and remove one of the racks.

Because of the importance of the intercom system, it could not be offline while we weren’t physically there working on it. The idea was to organize and label the wires, then take the system, disconnect the wires, take out the rack, install the new rack, and re-connect the wires in one day. Then with the intercom operational again, we could clean up the other items around the server room and remove the empty rack.

This story is not about how things went perfectly. You know how people say “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”; This was one of those days. Today’s story is about how the KB team relied on knowledge, experience, and determination to overcome some difficult situations and meet our customer’s needs. #goteam

When we arrived, there was trouble with a shower valve.

Allen County Intercom ProjectThis cost us a couple of hours right off the bat. It was important to the customer, so we switched priorities to take care of them. Charlie, one of our project team members, got called away on a personal matter. Family comes first, so Jeremy and I wished him safe travels and hoped everything would be OK. (Thankfully, they are.)

Jeremy and I got started. It’s easy to say during project planning that we would just disconnect and reconnect the wires, but I think we underestimated what disconnecting and reconnecting 400 wires would actually take. Especially when everything was in conduit. After getting started at about 10 am we executed the plan. We stuck it out until about 7:30 pm when we finished connecting the last wire. With the new rack and new system in place, we were ready to start testing.

Wouldn’t it be great if everything was turned on and worked perfectly?

That just wasn’t the case. After about an hour of troubleshooting, we had to make a call. We couldn’t leave without a working intercom system, so we decided to put the old system back into play. A large portion of the project had been completed with the cabling and rack work. And we knew it would be a good idea to get to a stopping point and regroup. All the wires could stay in the rack, so we re-racked the old equipment and re-connected the intercoms and made sure everything was working. With the system back up and operational, we called it a day at 9:45 pm.

With the new rack in place, we decided to continue the server room clean-up while troubleshooting the new intercom system. Charlie was back in action. He and Jeremy continued working on the server room while I took the intercom back to the workbench at Kenton Brothers. After stepping through each component of the intercom system, we found the culprit. (It seems like it’s always the $10 part that fails.) After replacing the faulty part, Charlie was able to make a return trip to the Allen County Sheriff’s Office to reconnect the new intercoms and leave a more organized server room.

The difference is drastic as you can see in the before (left) and after (right) pictures.

Allen County Intercom Project - Before Allen County Intercom Project - After

Allen County Sheriff’s Office has a new intercom system that will serve them well for many years. And they have a server room with more space and much better organization. This will allow future equipment additions and troubleshooting to be done efficiently.

We are proud to be partnered with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office for their commercial security needs. This was a challenging and rewarding project!

Access Control and Master Key Systems for the Banking Industry

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

Banking Client Project SpotlightWith Kenton Brothers being in business 124+ years we have seen a ton of changes in the security industry. What started out as only mechanical locks and keys has morphed into access control, camera systems, and intrusion detection. The founders of Kenton Brothers William and Leon would be shocked and excited at what this industry has become. (Both William and Leon knew how important it was to properly secure your facility.)

A trend we’ve been seeing recently is customers who spend a lot of money on their access control systems, cameras systems and intrusion  detection systems, but a lot of times keying is an afterthought (or no thought at all.) This is a mistake. Incorporating a controlled keying system helps complete your facility’s security. If a person has a key and isn’t authorized, they can do damage. It’s so important to tie all aspects of security together.

Merging the Old with the New

The question becomes how do you take something that was developed hundreds of years ago in mechanical keys and locks and have it work properly with today’s technology? The answer is planning. You plan how you want people coming in and out of your facility to have access in case of key override, power failure, safety concerns, etc. This common security need allows Kenton Brothers to create master key plans just like William and Leon did so many years ago.

An example of this in the real world is a banking customer of Kenton Brothers who ties in access control and a master key system. They have specific doors they flow traffic through and specific doors people can access via card readers, which also work using key override. The key override is driven by who should be able to access a certain space. Kenton Brothers recently did several installs for this customer allowing our mechanical and integration technicians to work hand in hand to secure their extensive facilities. As a result of being in the banking industry, this customer is on a high security system, adding another layer of security and protection to their facilities.

Banking Client Project Spotlight Banking Client Project Spotlight

Questions you can ask yourself to help better secure your facility:

  • Do I know who has keys to my facility?
  • Should all of those people have keys?
  • Do I need to restrict access to certain sections or rooms?
  • Would the security of my facility and the people and possessions in it benefit from knowing exactly who has access to the facility at any time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions and need help implementing a solution, please reach out to Kenton Brothers. We will help you properly secure your facility from keys to access control and more!

Start Strong, Finish Strong – 1 Customer, 9 Schools, 5 Different General Contractors

By Ryan Kaullen, Field Services Manager at Kenton Brothers

Start Strong, Finish StrongEarly May of 2021, Kenton Brothers was notified that we had won a commercial security project for a local school district that included 9 different school remodels with access control additions to each of the remodels. Included in the project were IP based intercoms, door release functions, web relay interfaces, and ADA integrations.

Kip Phillips was assigned as the Project Manager and I knew right away he had to Start Strong and Finish Strong because of several unique scenarios within the project.

Some of these potential challenges included:

  • Kenton Brothers was contracted directly with the school district and not the General Contractors
  • There were 9 different timelines that may or may not align depending on other trades
  • There were part logistics issues due to supply chain problems
  • Coordination with the General Contractors to ensure we installed our equipment at the right time

Kip knew that being properly prepared would allow him to maintain control of the project and be able to ensure its timely completion.

Relationship is Crucial in Complicated Projects

Start Strong, Finish StrongKenton Brothers prior relationship with the school district allowed us to not only win the job but also design exactly what the customer was needing.  Coordination began from there to align the timeline put out by the General Contractors to match what we were installing. Due to COVID, getting the parts we were contracted for took longer than normal. But there were also wait times on the parts that were needed from other trades to complete the projects.

Kip was in constant communication with everyone involved. Checking to see when parts were going to be delivered, getting them in our techs hands, and making sure the doors were in and ready for us to install the parts.

Timelines were a huge coordination component of this project. As doors and frames arrived, we had to get wiring in place so we wouldn’t get sealed out of physical places we needed to be. Sometimes, the notice that a door and frame had arrived was communicated to us the same day it was going to be installed. (Labor nightmare.) Kip had to shuffle a tech (or techs) off of one job and race over to the school district to make sure wiring was put into place quickly and correctly.

Start Strong, Finish StrongA lot of what Kenton Brothers had to do was contingent on other trades getting their work in place before we could do our work. This reality put us in a major time crunch to complete everything by the start of the school year.

Doing the Work

Kip was able to manage hundreds and hundreds of man hours spanning just a few weeks. He was able to keep everything in perspective by scheduling and organizing the techs efficiently. They knew what their tasks were each day, and they received the parts they needed.

Kip regularly attended weekly construction meetings to stay on top of everything and he provided feedback to the General Contractors, always being mindful of our deadlines. Being in constant communication with the techs, the school district, and the GCs allowed him to know where the projects stood at all times.

It helped that Kenton Brothers also had senior techs on the project… this allowed for good feedback back to Kip and our customer. The communication, the coordination, the anticipation of needs, and the strong project management allowed this project to finish successfully and on time. Our customer is happy!

This project properly aligned with the #KBWay of protecting people, property, and possessions. And we love the satisfaction of completing a project that will help the school district protect the kids and staff that work and learn in their buildings every day.

Start Strong, Finish Strong Start Strong, Finish Strong

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!