“We decided to get people together more often to talk about how they were feeling and not just always about business. Our leadership team was instrumental in putting together a communication plan to support our employees.” -Greg Myers, president, Radiant Technology
In July 2019, Radiant Technology experienced what employees call the profound loss of Vice President Jeff Wagner to cancer. He was the first person Greg Myers hired when he founded the company 19 years ago, and he served as the emotional leader who would jump at the chance to give an employee a pat on the back for a job well done.
As the months following Wagner’s death wore on, the year continued to be difficult for the collaboration solutions business that designs, installs and services audiovisual and digital signage systems. Its pipeline for new business had dried up, which led to a round of layoffs in February of this year. The idea at the time was to regroup and right-size the business for current demand. Those plans lasted about a month.
Covid-19 would prompt a second round of layoffs in March. Myers carried the weight of finding ways to keep the company afloat and communicating to remaining employees about the firm’s future. Myers, who considered himself more reserved and operations-focused, also had to find a way to fill the void created by Wagner’s death.Stay up to date with the region’s dynamic business scene. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.
“We decided to get people together more often to talk about how they were feeling and not just always about business,” Myers says. “Using remote platforms, we did large groups, small groups, one-on-ones. Our leadership team was instrumental in putting together a communication plan to support our employees.”
Radiant was able to secure a Paycheck Protection Program loan that allowed it to hire back employees that were let go in March. Myers gave his employees a purpose by asking them, in teams, to come up with solutions he thought clients would need to operate in times of crisis. It gave them hope amid dark days and a diversion from an unending loop of bad news.
Higher education became a priority because schools had limited time to prepare for hybrid classes in August. The “Radiant Innovation” team created a solution called “Front of the Classroom” that’s a remote experience meant to match the in-class experience. Features include the ability to record the class and store it in a “Learning Management System,” AV content sharing and flexible configurations.
By the time summer rolled around, the company was hiring because orders from higher education “increased exponentially,” says Marketing Manager Ann Ketron. Radiant hired six new installation technicians to handle the work, and the company still was filling positions in mid-July.
Radiant works with businesses and nonprofits, too, often creating collaboration environments that include web conference capabilities, content and application sharing and training and recording capabilities.
During Covid-19, those crisis-focused teams came up with solutions like streaming and recording suites that allow leaders to communicate to the masses, virtual learning studios, services to help IT staff optimize networks for increased AV traffic, war rooms and network operations centers.
Simon Sweet, director of information technology at behavioral health nonprofit Buckeye Ranch, called on Radiant for help when he realized his audiovisual know-how dated to a time when people popped slide trays into projectors. Radiant helped Buckeye Ranch outfit the conference and training rooms inside a new 80,000-square-foot headquarters that opened in March in Whitehall.
Radiant designed the rooms to incorporate Microsoft Teams, Office 365 scheduling, projectors, microphones in ceilings and video cameras. It became a critical asset during Covid-19 because “it allows us to continue to hold our required in-person and on-premise staff education events, with most of the presenters, trainers and some staff attending remotely and without overcrowding the training site,” Sweet says. “This gives the onsite attendees the safest environment possible under the circumstances.
“They have technology they’ve built using tools that make it super easy for somebody to walk into a conference room, touch a single button on a screen that says ‘join’ and then the camera turns on and everything happens immediately,” Sweet says. “Without this, employees would have to bring their laptops, plug in a bunch of equipment and log into a program. All that has been smoothed out by Radiant. It’s been so well received that I’ve been asked to start linking up all our other sites.”
Laura Newpoff is a freelance writer for Columbus CEO.