BK TECHNOLOGIES BUILDS WORKPLACE CULTURE THE SAME WAY IT MAKES AND DELIVERS SPECIALIZED TWO-WAY RADIOS: WITH UNCOMMON SINGLE-MINDED FOCUS
Listen to Tim Vitou for just a few minutes and he begins to sound like a college professor of business who is teaching students how to build workplace culture. Vitou, the president of BK Technologies Inc. in West Melbourne, is exacting in his explanations.
He talks about the four core tenets of his company, which encompass customers and employees along with investors and the community. Best partner to customers. Best employers to employees. Best investment for shareholders. Best neighbor in the community.
Then he commented, “If we can keep all those people happy, we get the growth that we’re looking for, and that will keep our shareholders happy.”
By all accounts, that is happening all the way around.
BK Technologies, in tech-speak, manufactures high- specification communications equipment for first responders, public safety professionals and government agencies at the city, county, state and federal levels. Or, as the company’s tagline indicates: “We build radios for heroes.”
To illustrate, the company builds mobile and portable two-way radios for field communications and command center communications for police and fire departments, and for emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. One example: the KNG Mobile, which is the industry’s first mobile radio with a touch screen display.
The products are what’s referred to as APCO Project 25 compliant, representing a long¬standing partnership among the public safety communications community, standard development organizations and industry manufacturers.
These are serious radios, and they’re all the company does.
“We have no other business entities,” described Vitou, who has more than 30 years of experience in the global marketplace and in January 2017 was promoted from senior vice president.
Until June 2018, the company largely was known throughout Brevard County as RELM Wireless Corp., with the name change made to better align products and brand. The company was established in 1945 near Indianapolis, Indiana, before moving to Satellite Beach more than two decades ago and subsequently to West Melbourne. Approximately 80 of the company’s 115 employees are in West Melbourne.
Company stock is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “BKTI,” Vitou also cited.
Then Vitou switches gears, again returning what effectively could serve as an information-rich classroom lecture on “how to succeed with a people-first approach.”
Following his discussion of the company’s four core tenets, he points to four guiding principles, beginning with quality.
“What runs through and permeates throughout the entire organization is a tenacious commitment to quality in everything we do,” he said. “This could involve bidding on a piece of business. Or building and delivering a radio, or post-sales support. … Whatever it would take.”
The second principle: continuous improvement. “We’re never done with quality. You’re never at a peak where you say, ‘Ha, ha. We’ve reached our quality level, and we can kind of relax.’ No, we’re constantly looking for continuous improvement.”
While BK Technologies focuses on those two principles, it does so always keeping a customer-centric point of view, Vitou asserted, commenting, “How does everything we do relate to our customers?”
Finally, there is growth. “If they can follow those three other principles,” he said, “it will lead to the fourth guiding principle: growth.
“We are all about growth — growing our people, growing our product, growing our customer base, growing our shareholder value for our investors.”
Growth, in fact, is being realized. Within the next two years, as many as 20 new workers could be added locally in manufacturing, engineering and sales.
Vitou’s lesson in business isn’t complete, not without further discussion of people.
“When you’re talking about culture, you’re talking about individuals, bringing people together and aligning resources and attitudes. So, you rally your troops, and I do that with collaboration,” he said. “I totally believe in having an empowered organization below me to make decisions. And I support them. So, to me, my job isn’t to dictate a decision or position. My job is to just build consensus.
“In a very collaborative manner, we made our decisions. We don’t believe in having a lot of hierarchy, where there’s five or six levels of management. Between me and somebody working on our production floor or inventory control or the shipping department, there’s typically only one or two people, at most.”
In turn, mistakes will be made by employees, and that’s OK, he continued.
“If you’re not making a mistake, you’re not trying, as the old adage says. Then we try to learn from whatever mistake it was. And try to do better with the continuous improvement edict throughout the company,” Vitou said.
“We have very open and frank discussions with everyone in the company on how they can contribute to our success and how they can feel empowered to make decisions.”
The conclusion to Vitou’s “lecture”: “We believe we’re building an exciting and dynamic culture.”