This is a year of celebrations for Louis Romero. As the native Ecuadorian enjoys his 20-year high school reunion with fellow Myers Park High School graduates, his company, Charlotte-based Network Cabling Systems, simultaneously celebrates its tenth year in business.
Romero, 39, started working at a very early age, eight or nine, and hasn’t quit. What has changed is that he is now his own boss, setting his own goals and developing the business strategies for his company atop the business he loves, structured cabling. His best strategy so far has been to build strong relationships with his clients.
In 1971, Louis Romero’s parents came to Charlotte from their native Ecuador in search of opportunity, prosperity and the American dream. They found what they were looking for. For 30 years, Louis’ parents have owned and operated a successful lawn care and service business in Charlotte. Fortunately for Romero, he inherited their strong work ethic, keen eyes for long-term opportunity and entrepreneurial spirit.
His business, Network Cabling Systems (NCS) provides voice and data network design and installation, as well as local area network/wide area network design and installation. Clients include small businesses, mid-sized companies, and Fortune 500 corporations. Although the products NCS installs are on technology’s leading edge, Romero considers his business to be a trade that is more heavily tied to the construction industry. He equates what NCS does with any other part of the architectural and construction process. “You hire a plumber to install the pipes to carry water, you hire an electrician to install the wiring to transmit electricity and in today’s world, you hire a network cabling specialist to install the infrastructure required to meet your technological needs.”
Of course, not all cabling systems are created equal, and NCS has established its niche by focusing on business sectors with critical data requirements.
The company installs cabling systems for financial institutions, banks and insurance companies, manufacturing plants, healthcare facilities and educational institutions. By concentrating on specific industries, Romero reasons that his technicians and designers can approach each project with a better understanding of the clients’ needs. Better cabling design upfront ensures a better performing network with fewer hassles and lower costs in the future. As Romero says, “Like many aspects of a new building, you get only one chance to build it correctly.”
Following graduation from Myers Park High School, Romero completed an electronics apprenticeship through Central Piedmont Comunity College. His training led him to a position with IBM as a network technician managing corporate network cabling installations. In 1991, following in his parent’s entrepreneurial footsteps Romero decided to strike out own his own and established his own company.
He originally operated the company from his home with a small staff. After two years of consistent growth, he moved the business to the current Griffith Road location near Tyvola Road and I-77 started to expand NCS’s services and its workforce. Today, NCS has 45 employees and technicians who each manage from 16 to 21 cabling projects at a time, both regionally and nationally.
Romero attributes his consistent growth to a few key factors, the most important of which is customer satisfaction. He and his employees have developed strong relationships with their clients. The company focuses on providing a high level of customer service and emphasizes building long-term relationships.
“As long as we have been in this industry, cable has always been cable. Copper and fiber optic wires are lazy until we install them and put their technology to work,” says Romero. “What makes NCS different is the close-knit relationships we maintain with area architects, construction firms, and IT managers.”
The strategy works well in an industry where technology is constantly changing and clients continually need to increase their cable productivity.
“Our number one relationship strategy is to maintain personal connections in an otherwise impersonal industry,” adds Romero. “Design and construction is a tough business.”
Because NCS has done well with assignments for large companies that have a reputation for demanding excellence from their vendors — such as Bank of America and Equitable — NCS has not only earned their call for repeat business, but has been able to consistently attract new clients as well.
“Our marketing strategy is really a relationship strategy. We employ a simple concept, centering on the people within our industry who trust us to be their cabling provider,” says Romero. “And we always consider the end-using companies who will live and work in the buildings and facilities we wire, long after the work is completed.”
When the key players in town know your company is really looking out for them as real people — in positions of critical and logistical respons-ibility — your work and service become more valuable to them than any gold.”
NCS has provided cabling services on several large projects that Gary Peacock & Associates (GPA) has designed and managed. GPA is a local technology consulting firm that specializes in the integration of technology and real estate projects, including cabling systems. According to Gary Peacock, “NCS consistently provides a quality system with zero defects and one that even looks great. NCS’ customer service during and after the project has been excellent.”
Romero also believes that the booming economy in Charlotte and the Carolinas has contributed greatly to the success of NCS. “For years I have envisioned our relationship strategy to include customer projects throughout North and South Carolina. From a business networking perspective, thinking of North and South Carolina as a unified marketplace has been a wise move. We live and work in a very tight-knit region. I have always kept my mind open to thinking regionally,” Romero says enthusiastically.
Another contributing factor to the success of NCS is overall growth in the technology industry. While many technologies and technology companies are facing a recession in growth and development, NCS is experiencing quite the opposite. As the technology in structured cabling continues to improve, the need for the company’s’ services is also on the rise. NCS has even been involved in some wireless projects. “Originally the word made me cringe, but it is amazing — every wireless device needs a wire and the need for our services is still there,” says Romero.
Finally, Romero admits the success of his 10-year old company boils down to doing great work, performed by great people. “In this industry, design knowledge and installation skill are collectively how business is won,” says Romero. “We accomplish this by hiring the most experienced technicians, researching the most reliable technology, and by hiring the most experienced technicians. Did I mention hiring the most experienced technicians?” In addition to experience, Romero’s employees have ‘stickability.’ “They love their job and the work is always challenging. In this industry it is difficult to retain good people and even tougher to retain great people, but I respect my employees very much and have been fortunate to experience low turnover, year after year.”
Focused on the Future
Looking toward the future, Romero vows to keep customer service and satisfaction the number one goal. Additionally, he would like to grow the management team and the client base.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary NCS redesigned its logo and invested in a promotional race truck. The new logo reflects the changes and improvements in technology, while the race truck represents the increased speed of data transfer via cable.
When asked about obstacles Romero has faced in owning his own business, he just smiles. “I have been extremely fortunate and NCS has been such a positive part of my life,” beams Romero. He adds reflectively, “It has been an exciting ride; the highs are higher and the lows are lower, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”