A Communications Refresh

In the business Todd Evernden runs, you have to perfectly fit to the needs of your customers, not the other way around.

As vice president of engineering and human resources at Pentagon Electronic Manufacturing Solutions (EMS), Evernden oversees the creation of precise fixtures that perform delicate but industrial tasks like holding circuit boards in place for production-line soldering robots. Pentagon EMS employees are experts in designing and building fixtures that improve the process and reduce the error rate of circuit board assembly. They accommodate any type circuit board, which means they work around you. You don't work around them.

This customer-centric mentality makes Pentagon EMS a tough customer for products that cause headaches, so it wasted no time pulling the plug on its old phone system when it realized the system wasn't working for the company , but the other way around.

"Previously, we had a Nortel PBX system in place for the phone system, but it was very complicated, and very expensive," said Evernden.

Phone usage is vital to business at Pentagon EMS, now in its seventh year. The 45-member staff is comprised of sales, marketing, design and manufacturing specialists who make heavy use of the phones and regularly depend on features such as conferencing, wireless roaming, advanced voice-mail capabilities, and automated attendant functionality. The pain and expense of using and maintaining the old PBX system became too great.

"With the old system, if you needed to reconfigure it for a new user but [lacked a vendor certification], you didn't have access to all the codes needed to set certain things up in the system," recalls Evernden. "We would have to hire a technician if we were adding more lines or changing a configuration, or if it just went down. And for a business our size, that was difficult."

Pentagon EMS brought in a new business phone solution, the Synapse™ Business Phone System. What began as the deployment of a few test phones quickly grew to displace the entire legacy phone system. "We started small, a three- to five-line phone system, then once we knew it worked for us we grew the phone network out as needed," said Evernden.

Refreshing and improving an entire small business phone network is simple with the Synapse Business Phone System, a family of three communications solutions that includes a desk set (Synapse SB67030), an Ethernet to PSTN (public switched telephone network) expansion gateway (Synapse SB67010), and a wireless accessory handset with speaker phone (Synapse SB67040) that can extend the reach of the phone network to warehouses and other building locations.

The reliability of Pentagon EMS' business phone system immediately improved once the AT&T system began to deploy, said Evernden. And it was easy to install, he added.

"The new AT&T phones are definitely a big step up from where we were at with the old system," said Evernden. "We plug the new phones right into our computers so we don't have to run new phone lines. So if we're talking about the cost of installation we saved quite a bit. In fact, we would be spending twice as much right now on a different phone system, if not more."

Many Pentagon EMS employees think the new AT&T phone system is actually more expensive than the older system. "That was my first thought too when I saw it. I thought, 'Wow that looks really nice, it must be expensive,' " laughs Evernden.

Today, Pentagon EMS' old, retired PBX phone system sits in a closet, unused. "We keep it as a backup, but I don't think we'll ever need it," said Evernden.

"With the new AT&T phone system, we don't have to manage any heavy back-end equipment, and it's less expensive and easier to use."