Local technology firm expands services, resumes

Published on Sunday, 12 January 2014 21:24 - Written by CASEY MURPHY cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

OWENTOWN — After only four years of buying a local technology business, Connie Jo Coker and Steve Gause have added a host of services and clients across the country to their resumes.

In December, they acquired their fourth business, incorporating it into their company, Raving Fan Technologies, and plan to continue expanding this year.

Mrs. Coker, 57, and her husband and business partner, Gause, 54, incorporated Raving Fan Technologies and acquired Silverthorne Technologies in January 2010. The company was started about 20 years ago by Clint Silverthorne and serves the structured cable industry.

Mrs. Coker said they were looking to own a business in the information technology industry, and the company had an outstanding reputation for customer service and delivering the highest quality structured cabling installation  services.

“He had started something we believed in,” she said of Silverthorne.

They named their corporation Raving Fan Technologies after the business book on how to deliver customer service to turn customers into raving fans, written by Ken Blanchard.

After buying and taking over operations of Silverthorne, Mrs. Coker said they found there were other needs in Tyler and decided to expand.

In September 2012, they bought a small IP security and network design company, 4G Custom Technology in Athens. They also acquired Translucent Networks, expanding their services in the Outside Plant Fiber Optic Utility world. The company, which offers outside plant fiber optic termination and installations, was well established in the wind farm industry.  

Mrs. Coker said employees spent three months in Idaho Falls working on a large wind farm with about 600 wind turbines.

On Dec. 31, Raving Fan Technologies acquired Isis Surveillance, a larger security company that has been in Tyler for about 20 years, she said, adding that it will allow them to continue to expand services to their customers.

Mrs. Coker said this year, they plan to add commercial office automation and security.

She said the new addition will allow them to tie in their other services to offer businesses access to their security cameras and door access with electronic control panels on their walls, smartphones or other devices. She said they are preparing to send seven employees this month to become certified on the new services.

“It’s just going to be another product we offer,” she said.

The company has employees who are certified fiber optic technicians and certified tower climbing technicians, among other specialties.

When they bought Silverthorne the business had four employees. Now, they have 24 workers.

The joined companies and employees, along with their expertise in the individual markets of voice, data, video, fiber optics, security surveillance systems, access control, fire alarm systems and commercial office automation systems — allow them through one company to provide all the low voltage requirements that a company needs.

Mrs. Coker said they recently worked closely with Tim Brookshire and his son, Garnett Brookshire, and Fitzpatrick Architects in designing the infrastructure cabling for the restoration of the Peoples Petroleum Building. They designed a backbone network system of fiber optic cabling, coax and voice/data trunk cables to provide tenants the capability to connect seamlessly and use any service provider available to connect for internet, voice, data and cable services. 

The company also is installing a special automation system in a conference room in the building, which will control HVAC, shades, data, voice, audio, video, lighting and any other systems they may choose to add.

Mrs. Coker said they are a national firm based in Tyler with its primary customers here. The company started serving the health care industry, including East Texas Medical Center and Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics. The business does work for local financial institutions and governmental agencies, such as the city of Tyler and Smith County, she said. And they have since expanded to serve Brookshire Grocery Co., doing cabling in grocery stores in three states.

The fiber optic services have taken the company to several states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Idaho while they have performed security work in Colorado and South Carolina. She said they also work all over Texas.

“We go where our customers are,” she said.

Mrs. Coker worked as the IT director for the city of Grand Prairie for 11 years and worked for the city of Arlington for a few months. Gause worked in the information technology industry for nearly 18 years.

Mrs. Coker and Gause met while they were members of the Texas Association of Governmental Information Technology Managers. They now are members of the Greater East Texas Information Technology Professionals (getIT), for which Ms. Coker serves as treasurer.

After decades of working in the industry, Mrs. Coker said she and her husband grew tired of working for someone else, so they decided to start their own business and found Silverthorne Communications for sale in Tyler.

“A lot of people say husbands and wives can’t work together, but Steve and I don’t seem to have a problem with that at all,” she said, adding that they love what they do.

Mrs. Coker said the best thing about their partnership is where one is weak, the other is strong. She believes she is stronger in the business side while her husband is stronger in the operation side of the company. She said they both like working with customers and doing project management.

“Tyler has been very good to us,” she said.