Crosstalk with Select Telecom (Spring 2011)

Despite what you hear from television pundits and politicians, manufacturing in the US is not dead. In fact, there are thriving manufacturers located right in our backyard. Hudson Valley-based Pawling Corporation is a specialty manufacturer of rubber and plastic products with over 250 employees at two plants totaling over 400,000 square feet. Since 1945, Pawling Corporation has been producing quality manufactured products which today range from entrance mats and athletic flooring to plastic protective systems, inflatable rubber seals and actuators.

Like other businesses, an efficient, reliable, and easy to use telecommunications system is essential to Pawling Corporation’s daily operations. In June of 2010, Bill Schrull, IT Director for Pawling Engineered Products Division, was months into a thorough search for a new phone system. “Our current system was over 10 years old, one of our divisions (the Pawling location) was changing their facility location, and it made sense to put in something new. The other division (at our Wassaic location) didn’t need to change, but we thought there were key advantages to the features that new systems had available for our sales and marketing and communications. We wanted to take advantage of benefits that would improve our bottom line.”

Bill’s team had already been in touch with a number of vendors regarding Avaya and Cisco systems, and they were preparing to move forward when Bill was approached by Joe Clarkin, a Sales Executive from Select Telecom. Joe suggested that Bill consider a ShoreTel system before making a final decision. Bill’s team was initially hesitant to add another option to the mix. “We were getting towards the tail end of the process – we’d already had a number of site visits and quotes from other vendors.” Before he could even consider the ShoreTel, Bill needed to know if the system was within their budget. Though Joe was eager to give Bill’s team a demo and get down to a more refined proposal, Bill requested a ballpark price based on the same system criteria that had been shared with the other vendors. Bill was happy with Joe’s reply. “Joe responded to our more immediate need in a timely fashion and showed us a price that was good, which made the next step [to demo the product] easy. It was important that we had that immediate response on a good up front quote to give us an ‘apples to apples’ comparison.”

With Bill’s curiosity peaked, a team of Select Telecom and ShoreTel representatives traveled to Pawling Corporation’s Wassaic site to demo the system. Bill’s team was impressed. “From the administrative side, we thought we saw something that was going to be relatively easy for us to understand and manage, which was important from the IT department point of view. The users and executives who looked at it certainly saw a product that they liked and thought would suit our needs. The critical factor for me was what we thought of it from the IT perspective. Every vendor had had what we felt were the essential features of IP phone systems; everyone had some variation of the same buttons on the phone. Ultimately we were going from a phone system that was normally supported 100% by the vendor [to one we manage ourselves], and we did not want a system that was difficult and complicated to understand. We thought ShoreTel Director was a relatively easy interface for day to day adds, moves, and changes.”

After settling the details of the system and equipment, the project progressed into the installation phase. Pawling Corporation was in the process of completing construction on the Pawling facility and the Wassaic facility was in full operation, so it was important that the install ran smoothly to prevent any interruption to operations. According to Bill, “There was no disruption at all. They brought the system in and had a number of things preconfigured, and there were no major issues. Our transition from the old system was very smooth… There was nothing at all that brought us to a major outage.” This was true even for the Wassaic location, where Select Telecom technicians installed cabling throughout the office area while Pawling Corporation staff continued their daily work. “The process [at Wassaic] went smoothly, retrofitting those offices with little to no disruption to daily ongoing operations.” In the end, Pawling Corporation was pleased that Select Telecom’s team delivered 100% of what was discussed during the sales process.

After installation was complete, Select Telecom’s training specialist worked with Pawling Corporation employees at each location to acclimate them to the new system. Bill reported that his colleagues found the ShoreTel system “pretty straightforward” to learn and that Pawling Corporation has been very happy with their selection. “Overall, the system has had a very good impression on the users. They’ve found it easy to adapt to from the old system and we’re still discovering some niceties. Everyone really likes the Call Manager. It’s a big step from where we were before. There are no complaints, and everyone really loves the phones and thinks they are very sleek and professional, a no-brainer.”

Select Telecom’s team strives go beyond just sales and installation by assisting customers with determining the right system configuration for the unique needs of their business, providing professional and courteous installation experts, and guiding the customer to success with hands-on training and education. As Bill and Pawling Corporation have found, Select Telecom’s top-tier service doesn’t end after the last phone is switched on: “I certainly appreciate that it’s been very easy to get ahold of Select Telecom’s support. Over the phone it’s been very quick and getting people on site has also been very responsive.” With their new system in place, Pawling Corporation has the adaptive communication tools needed to respond in today’s competitive economy, and Select Telecom is proud to have contributed, in its own way, to the longstanding resolve of the American manufacturing industry.