Build A Niche In Mobile Data Installations
This solutions providerâ€™s ability to recommend the right mobile printer and mount for the job won it a 150-plus vehicle installation from the Denver Police Department.
Michael Rickert and his partner, Chris Jandro, co-owners of Global Mounting Solutions, Inc. (GMSI), are proof that you can succeed by offering a superior service in a narrowly targeted niche. After seven years in business together, they can barely keep up with the demand for their installations of rugged laptops, printers, and mounts in government vehicles.
Rickert says that virtually all of his company's business is with government agencies in 20 states. About 75% of that business is in the public safety sector (e.g. police, rescue, fire), and the rest is with state and local government agencies such as water departments and building inspectors. "It's really a super-niche," says Rickert. "It's a subset of the public safety vehicle outfitting market, which is a narrow niche in itself."
GMSI's projects range from designing and installing complete in-vehicle mobile data solutions to specialized installations that address unique customer needs. An example of the latter is a project GMSI recently performed for the Denver Police Department. For the last several years, the agency has been pursuing a goal of having its fleet of police vehicles outfitted with technology that will allow its officers to print electronic traffic citations, eliminating handwritten tickets. GMSI had initially worked with the Denver PD when the department upgraded its fleet's rugged laptops. For that project, GMSI provided the laptops, along with mag-stripe readers that officers use to swipe drivers' licenses to obtain immediate, up-to-date information on drivers. Once the laptops and readers were installed, the Denver PD issued an RFP for mobile printers that would work with the hardware to print the tickets. GMSI, headquartered in Denver, was the successful bidder.
Successful Local Government Installations Bring Referrals
"The challenge was that police cars, once outfitted with all their standard equipment — not to mention the laptops and mag-stripe readers — don't have much real estate left for add-ons," says Rickert. "The Denver PD wanted to be able to print 8½-by-11-inch documents, and the only space available for the printers was in the glove compartment." This limited the printer options to the Pentax PocketJet 3Plus, which at approximately 10 inches long and weighing just over one pound, is one of the only printers Rickert is aware of that would both fit in the glove compartment space and print the letter-sized pages the department wanted. The PocketJet 3Plus comes with integrated Bluetooth for wireless communications, eliminating the need for cable connections. It prints 300 dots per inch and is rugged enough to withstand the extreme driving conditions that utility and public safety users can dish out.
Rickert and his team also had to find reliable mounts that would accommodate the printers in the very small available space. "The mount we used is manufactured by Havis-Shields specifically to allow the Pentax PocketJet to be installed in the glove compartment of the Ford Crown Victoria," notes Rickert. "We've used that mount before, most recently for the Durango, CO PD. Once the Denver PD decided on the glove compartment for the mounting location, that narrowed the options to the Havis-Shields mount." GMSI installed between 150 and 200 printers and mounts in the Denver PD's fleet.
Like the Denver PD, most of GMSI's public safety customers have a good idea what they want — or at least what they want to be able to do. For those that don't have specific solutions in mind, GMSI uses a consultative approach to help users identify the technology options available and determine which ones will best address their goals. "We always conduct presales evaluations with our potential customers," says Rickert. "We can even put together a demo of a solution and bring it to them so they can see how it will work before they commit to it."
In a superniche, building on your successes is crucial, because much of your business is won through referrals and word of mouth. "The public safety community is fairly tight-knit," explains Rickert. "The agencies share information about what solutions work and which contractors they've had success with." GMSI's hands-on approach and its ability to identify the best solutions for Denver PD's challenges will undoubtedly lead to additional referrals with agencies in town and throughout the western United States.