- people on the move
Video system maker for vehicles zooms in on growth
Pro Vision sees success in transit, law enforcement and commercial markets.
A local company that equips police cruisers, transit buses and commercial and industrial vehicles across the globe with mobile camera systems is gearing up for growth as it sees increasing opportunities across all three of its market segments.
Husband-and-wife team Liz and Steve Peacock founded Pro Vision Video Systems out of their basement in 2003. Today, the company has grown to nearly 80 employees and is housed in a facility at 8625 Byron Center Drive SW.
Steve Wagasky, regional team sales manager, said the company is looking to fill another dozen positions, as well, and is always on the lookout for talent.
He noted in the past year Pro Vision has made changes to its sales structure to better cater to new business opportunities. Rather than one sales manager for each of the company’s 12 regions in North America, it now has two sales managers for each region.
“Now there are two region managers in just about every region — one who focuses on the law enforcement market and the other who focuses on the transit and commercial markets.”
Wagasky said the change occurred because the company realized it was missing business opportunities due to being spread too thin.
“The deals we would lose would be deals we didn’t know were happening,” he said. “It wasn’t deals we couldn’t compete with or offer the right solution.”
He said by the end of next year a third region manager could be added to each region so transit and commercial business can be split.
Pro Vision has also hired an employee dedicated to servicing foreign markets. The company sells its products in 40 countries.
“North America is the primary market, but we have systems in Australia, South Africa, South America and Europe,” Wagasky said.
Transit and law enforcement have remained strong market segments because onboard cameras have become standard practice for many police departments and school and public transportation systems.
Sam Lehnert, Pro Vision marketing manager, said there are many opportunities for upgrades in these markets as camera systems improve in quality, so he doesn’t see business slowing down.
Pro Vision’s most recent forward-facing camera and monitor for police cruisers, for example, has been developed with a zoom function so a police officer can obtain a license plate number while remaining in the vehicle.
Cruisers also can be equipped with rear-facing cameras, which offer several helpful features for recording what is going on in the backseat of the vehicle.
“This is one of the key differentiators,” Lehnert said. “The rear-facing camera could capture two people in the backseat. We use an aspheric lens, so it’s a 170-degree field of view and it corrects the fish eye.
“It’s got night-vision infrareds in it and audio. A lot of our competitors are still using separate microphones, or they don’t have night vision.”
In addition to cameras for cruisers, Pro Vision entered the body camera market after receiving inquiries from its law enforcement customers; it also is seeing some commercial businesses adopt body cameras for added protection.
Wagasky said Pro Vision was able to create a more affordable product that met more of the needs police officers had found lacking in the products they’d been using.
“They were dissatisfied with the video quality, battery life and field of view,” he said.
“Instead of taking an existing product and rebranding it, we developed a final product that met their needs, bringing high definition, night vision, a wider field of view and increased storage size.”
In the transit market, Pro Vision recently developed an exterior side-mount camera that catches the license plate numbers of cars passing illegally when a school bus’s stop arm is deployed.
“That camera came straight from the customer,” Lehnert said. “We designed the camera from the ground up, taking the right image sensor, the right housing — it needs to be compact for the exterior of the vehicle — (and) put together that camera with all the right ingredients.”
Lehnert said when it comes to law enforcement and transit customers, Pro Vision is focused on winning business through features.
“School bus and law enforcement, it’s (a question of) who am I going to choose,” he said, in terms of competition. “We are focused on improving features, having more features and benefits, being able to do more and differentiate and provide a better video quality or less cab space.”
He said the commercial segment is mostly about convincing a customer of the value of implementing cameras.
“We aren’t necessarily competing with another business; we are competing with ‘do I implement cameras or do I not implement cameras,’” he said.
Lehnert said the primary reasons companies tend to use mobile video systems on their vehicles are to increase safety and reduce liability.
“You have your name on the side of a vehicle — you might as well paint a target on top of that,” Wagasky said. “If you got hit by a Jimmy John’s vehicle, you’re probably going, ‘These guys say they are freaky fast; maybe they are being unsafe?’
“They may not be. So they want to be able to have video to document whether this is something that I need to address with drivers and their behavior out on the road, or is this something that I need to fight tooth and nail? There’s always three sides to the story — his, hers and what really happened — and the video will show that.”
Wagasky said there are commercial businesses that also could benefit from implementing body cameras, and he is seeing some utilities and other companies begin to use them. He expects more will follow suit.
“Utilities, for instance,” he said. “If I was going to someone’s house to turn on or shut off power, if I was in someone’s backyard, it’s something you would want documented.”
He said repossession companies, towing businesses and real estate professionals are other businesses he thinks could benefit from using body cameras.
Wagasky said Pro Vision has always concentrated equally on its three market segments and it will continue to do so because each area continues to offer growth opportunities and product advancement needs.