Home Back Issues Nov/Dec 2012 The connection

The connection

| Print |  Email
Articles - Nov/Dec 2012
Monday, November 05, 2012
Article Index
The connection
Page 2

 

BY LINDA BAKER

1112 Tactics 01
// Photo by Christopher Barth

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.

 



 

More Articles

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

Fast Food Slows Down

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

Register for 100 Best Companies survey

News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
OBM-100-best-logo-2015 150pxwBy Kim Moore | OB Editor

The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS