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Case Study: NEC Dealer Ensures Contractors Connections While It Builds Bridges

Clarkson Construction Co. is a sixth-generation, family-owned contractor focused on heavy, highway and site work construction. Founded in 1880 by George G. Clarkson in Kansas City, Mo., the company has built a reputation for completing critical infrastructure construction projects on schedule and at or under budget. Whether it is flood-control levees, highways, shopping malls, convention centers, airports, bridges or other major projects, Clarkson is one of the Midwest’s largest, most diversified heavy constructors.

Problem

An NEC ElectraElite IPK has been providing telephony service to Clarkson Construction Co. in its Kansas City headquarters building since 2002. However, in July 2006, a large contract win threatened to change that.

Clarkson Construction Co., Massman Construction Co. and Kiewit Western Co. won a $232 million contract to design and build the new kcICON – Christopher S. Bond Bridge across the Missouri River adjacent to downtown Kansas City. This was another high-profile infrastructure project win for Clarkson. The contract winners formed a separate joint venture company called the Paseo Corridor Constructors (PCC). The contract required all parties involved in the project to work from a building near the construction site known as “the kcICON Project Office.”

The question was whether Clarkson and the PCC would continue on with NEC Unified Solutions or go in another direction. Clarkson IT manager, Rodney Tatum, called in four organizations to propose telecommunications for the joint venture. One of them was Batts Communications, an NEC associate-dealer headed by Kyle Batts in Raytown, Mo.

“Kyle and I had collaborated on previous projects so I knew he had the work ethic that I needed for this fast-track project,” said Tatum. “Once I saw the pricing offered by using Batts Communications to install a NEC system, I knew it was the way to go.”

Solution

Early on, while discussing PCC’s telecommunications, a cost-effective solution presented itself to Tatum and Batts: Placing an IPK II in the kcICON Project Office, upgrading the Clarkson headquarters’ IPK to an IPK II, and connecting the two communication servers together with an MPLS VoIP connection.

This approach would allow PCC, its designer Parsons Transportation Group and the Missouri Department of Transportation, housed in the kcICON Project Office, to all have four-digit dialing. “That saves a lot of time and gives everyone the feeling they’re on the same team,” said Tatum.

In addition, this configuration enables busy lamp field (BLF) indicators for each employee. Users can determine if a co-worker already is on the phone before attempting to get in touch. Finally, a “camp” feature allows users to set up a call back as soon as the intended recipient is again available.

Although each location has its own primary rate interface (PRI) trunk, they can share outside lines over the VoIP connection. This provides redundancy for a failed PRI at either location, as well as temporary scalability for either location in the case of a sudden spike in call volume above what is provided by that location’s PRI. Of course, in the case of a failure of the link between the two sites, the IPK II units function separately without any issues.

Results

Clarkson Construction chose Batts Communication to supply the equipment and configuration that Tatum and Batts originally discussed. According to Tatum, “NEC builds tremendous value into their equipment. For example, I have no doubt we saved $20,000 on the equipment alone just by going with NEC.”

“My experience with NEC and knowing Kyle Batts’ competence and trustworthiness put it over the top for us. Nobody else showed us how we could create one unified system by tying the two locations together,” said Tatum.

The cutover to the upgraded IPK II at Clarkson headquarters and the inauguration of the new MPLS connection occurred in March 2008. “I think it’s impressive to be a part of a project as large as this,” said Tatum.

“I expect the BLFs are going to save us a great deal of time,” he continued. “And our new voice platform is also going to help us become more productive. It is the EliteMail voice platform running on a Linux open-source operating system which makes ViewMail possible, enabling all PCC team members to efficiently manage their voice mails as .wav file messages in their inboxes.”

“It was a smooth cutover in every respect,” said Tatum.


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