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|Articles - Nov/Dec 2012|
|Monday, November 05, 2012|
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BY LINDA BAKER
Bob Ralston is the original engineer turned entrepreneur. A former engineering supervisor at Emerald People’s Utility District in Eugene, Ralston in 1998 developed one of Oregon’s first cellular mobile data applications used for electronic service order dispatch. That project inspired him in 2000 to found Feeney Wireless, a company that helps public and private sector clients connect their computer networks to all sorts of remote and mobile devices, including utility meters, vehicles, industrial machinery and automated kiosks.
Today Feeney is one of the fastest-growing companies in the booming wireless mobile and “machine-to-machine” market. Some analysts predict that by the year 2020, there will be upwards of 10 million to 50 million interconnected mobile devices, Ralston says. He adds that Feeney maintains a leadership role in the rapidly evolving industry by providing customers with a “complete end-to-end solution,” designing and assembling products such as routers and modems on the company’s new, expanded campus in Southwest Eugene, while also managing equipment and networks for individual customers.
The decision to integrate engineering, marketing and technical support didn’t exactly come naturally, says Ralston. “I built the company based on an engineering foundation,” he says. “But to be successful in any business, I really had to learn how to be a sales company, because that’s the heart and soul of the company, and that took a lot of work.”
Feeney Wireless got its start catering to the utility industry with wireless data applications, but early on in the company’s history, Ralston realized he needed to grab larger customers and expand products and services in order to sustain and grow the business. “Once customers had been serviced, we had to find more work,” he says. The solution was to leverage Feeney’s connections with municipalities, investor-owned utilities and co-ops into contracts with other public agencies, including law enforcement, fire and emergency.
As the customer base expanded, Feeney also began to transition from an engineering company into an engineering, sales and support company, Ralston says. That shift led to a stronger relationship with cellular carriers, “since the technology we were using evolved out of their wireless networks,” Ralston says. In turn, carriers provided Feeney access to “a whole new class of customer,” retailers and enterprise businesses starting to think about how to tie their equipment to mobile networks.
Friday, March 28, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Community college career, technical and workforce programs present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How can we strengthen the performance of institutions charged with teaching what Francis Fukuyama calls the social virtues (reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward community, and trust) necessary for successful markets and democracy itself?
Thursday, March 20, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER
I don’t think anyone can (or should) remember what it was like to get things done without the internet. This milestone in technology has certainly benefited brick-and-mortar companies and subsequently launched a new era of businesses.
Friday, April 11, 2014
TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
BY MARK BLAINE | OB BLOGGER
The publisher of the Emerald Media Group moves on, leaving a cutting edge media group that depends on business acumen for its survival.
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