TROJAN LABOR Interview…Tom Herring

Tom Herring wears two hats (actually three, if you count the community outreach group he founded). We’ll look at two of his roles, one was as President of ASA (American Sub-contractors Association) and the second as head of sales and project management at Herring Telecom Co., a subsidiary of CO Christian and Sons Electrical Contractors. We’ll see he’s a leader and an innovator both.

tom herringTLN: Our readers include lot of Contractors and Sub-contractors. Tell us about ASA.

TH: American Sub-contractors Association (ASA) is a national organization and ASA of TN is our local chapter – a great group of Sub-contractors from just about every field. We have four events per year, and they are well-attended gatherings of Tennessee business men and women who come to network and exchange information. In our BPI (Business Practice Interchange), we have a guest Attorney, an Accountant and an Insurance Agent, each of whom field questions and troubleshoot in their areas of expertise. Subcontractors are often smaller businesses and out spending long days working and therefore somewhat isolated in their ability to get information on the industry in general. The average electrician or plumber only has contact with the GC, so he’s not always getting information particular to his field, or even subs in general. ASA is our forum and a place to process changes – we might go over a new bill implemented or the best way to fill out a mandatory form. We also have a featured speaker. Our next event is March 27th. And we’re hoping to pin down a date in April for our Golf Tournament.

TLN: Tom, now tell us about Herring Telecom Co. – what services and products does your company provide?

TH: We install voice and data cable, as well as design and install high def security cameras and Access Control systems.

TLN: What kind of projects do you work on, any notable clients?

TH: Our clients include Lipscomb University, Hillwood Country Club, and Brentwood Police Department. We’ve worked very closely with Lipscomb – the university is a virtual city and we’ve secured the whole thing. It’s always difficult to elaborate about security for obvious reasons. In fact there are companies we work with whom we can’t even name because it could in some way breach their security.

TLN: Gotcha. Will I get debriefed on the way out? (laughter) Tom, what do you think sets your company apart from your competitor’s?

TH: Our service and our attention to detail. We look at our project as representing us. And I think we manage well with a fast-changing technology. We began as structured cable specialists – telecom, voice and data cables, high voltage etc… but due to the wireless boom, the cable volume has slowly decreased. We’re glad to say we got ahead of the technological trend very early on, and we are now focused on all-IP systems with cameras, access control and even digital signage. Our work is becoming more involved with programming and computer networks, first, and the installation of cable – though we still do it – is a distant second.

TLN: Programming and computer networks?

TH: We’ve come into the business of digital signage.

Tom shows me into a conference room and points to a wall holding a 52-inch screen on which images and text float by. He continues…

TH: That’s what you’re beginning to see in places like McDonald’s, banks and the lobbies of high-rises. While ‘McDonald’s’ name is predominantly displayed, so is the news, or weather updates, baseball scores, or the stock market – things folks would like to know while they’re waiting in line, or waiting for an elevator. Those digital signs aren’t feeding from TV stations, but from computers that utilize programming and design elements. That’s what we’re about.

TLN: (I point to another wall – a virtual checkerboard of video screens). What’s that?

TH: Security. Those are 12 examples of security cameras, each specific in its capability.

Tom points to one of the screens explaining that the exterior security camera is so sensitive, it’s relaying the small text on a sign almost 200 ft. away from it. He points out another camera’s image coming from within a warehouse… the camera “sees” both the dark interior of the warehouse as well as the license plate of a truck parked way out in the bright sunshine.

TLN: This is like in the movies… Mission Impossible!

TH: This is where we invite clients in to take a look at the technology and see what’s possible. We let them get to know our techs – whom we see as the *engine* of our company – and they can ask questions, see demonstrations and watch the products work, and at the end of the day there’s a relationship and knowledge of the workings and capabilities of the systems we offer. Our customers are important to us. I always think that if they are not happy with the install or the functioning, then I’ve lost not only an existing customer but a possible new customer they might have sent me! We are also very particular with the brands with which we go to market, with since our reputation rides on the manufacturer’s product as well. We try and avoid any proprietary products because we do not want you to choose us just because we are the only ones who can work on a particular system, we want to be chosen because we are the best and the easiest to work with.

TLN: Where do you see the company in 5 years?

TH: Cutting edge. We have brought in some amazing programmers to keep us up to date and take us to uncharted territory.

TLN: Sounds exciting. We’ll have to check back with you.

To contact Herring Telecom Co., call Tom Herring (615) 846-2380

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