March 5, 2022
It’s newsletter time again. Wow, another busy month. There is so much going on I really don’t know where to start. Let me begin with a few promotions within the company. We have a record number of openings company-wide with the growth we have had and additional growth we see coming. Lone Star prefers to promote from within when possible, so this is our chance to show that.
Promotions. Director of Research and Development. We identified the need for someone to direct a team to focus on R & D within the company. A team dedicated to planning and executing the integration of products. Every office was doing this well, but we were duplicating efforts and not using our time efficiently. So, rather than a lot of one-off integrations from each office, our plan is to avoid the reinventing of processes needed to integrate systems and optimize workflows in each office by developing it once and making the design available to all offices. In addition, we want to monetize the research and design by selling the knowledge to other customers and Rauland partners.
Justin Bailey who also leads the DOD, Division of Disruption team, has been promoted to Director of Research and Development. Justin has been with Lone Star for 23 years and has been a part of the engineering team as a draftsman, and later design, but most recently in operations as the Program Manager for Baylor Scott and White projects. Justin is just finishing his MBA, Master of Business Administration, at Texas Christian University and is excited to be taking on this role.
Though still involved for a while, Justin is handing the Program Manager role in a team put together to lead the Baylor Scott and White (BSWH) program exclusively. Hannah Cooper, also working on her MBA, is moving to the BSWH Program Manager for Projects role with an emphasis on managing the growing amount of Baylor projects. Hannah has been a project manager with Lone Star for the last two years and has held other roles within Lone Star during her almost 5-year history with the company. In addition, Robbie Culver is moving to the role of BSWH Program Manager for Service and Support. Robbie has been with the company for more that 13 years and has been a major part of the Baylor relationship.
To round out the Baylor team, Veronica Contreras has joined Lone Star recently as our BSWH Informatics Clinical Applications Specialist. Veronica has had extensive experience providing training and informatics analysis to BSWH as a Baylor employee. This team has been assembled to manage the large number of Baylor projects in-house and about to be received.
Another employee on the move is Brian Banks. Brian has been with Lone Star in various roles in his 15 plus years with Lone Star, his most recent being the manager of Cyber Security. Brian has been promoted to the newly created role of Applications Development Specialist/Cyber Security and will move to R & D and work directly for Justin. We plan to bring in Defendify to handle the day-to-day cyber needs and Brian will oversee that effort. He will still teach classes from time to time, but his main role will be to become our expert on application development and API’s, integrating systems within hospitals and educational facilities. Brian was the developer of the Lone Star Cyber Security and TexPath apps and has had a part in the TechStar app as well. Brian is well qualified to lead this effort and is one of the original members of the DOD group in which he will remain involved.
Cassie Thompson, Lone Star’s payroll clerk, has just completed her accounting degree at Colorado State University and is looking for more responsibility. Kathryn Marshall has been mentoring Cassie for many years in accounting and has asked Cassie to step into the Assistant Controller role in Georgetown covering the central Texas offices. Cassie has been with Lone Star for more that 17 years and is perfect for the position, having worked on accounting with Kathryn for so long.
Of course, this means we have an opening in the payroll clerk position which will be filled by Kristin Best who is currently in the accounts receivable position in Georgetown. Kristin has been with Lone Star almost 11 years and has proven herself competent in that role.
That brings us to Kathryn Marshall, what’s she going to do? Kathryn is moving to Corporate Services and will become the Lone Star Director of Financial Planning &
Analysis and SMA manager. Kathryn will work on the budgets for all Lone Star companies and continue to educate the COO’s and others on the impact decisions have on the budget and the gross profit of the company. She will work to continue to improve the budgeting process and work to keep all the entities within their budgets. In addition, Kathryn will become the overall manager on SMA’s company-wide and will be responsible to hold employees accountable for SMA’s, SMA renewals, and the reporting of recurring revenue. Kathryn will become part of the SPC, Strategic Planning Committee. Kathryn has been with the company more than 16 years.
Employees have asked from time to time, why do we continue to grow? This is why. Growing companies create opportunities for people to improve their skills and move into positions with more responsibility and, as a result, more pay. All these employees have worked hard for Lone Star, displayed initiative, produced quality work, and have earned these promotions. Please take a moment to call them, email them, or text them with congratulations on these well-deserved promotions. As we grow, our Lone Star employees grow. Growth is good for all.
Research project. The R & D department has hit the ground running. Last week, Jeff, Donna, Justin and many others met with World Class Software’s Bob Williams and multiple people from Vocera to finalize the Vocera/Responder 5 integration. This have been in process for years and was not completed due to a lack of engineering resources at Rauland. Lone Star has accepted the challenge to finalize the integration due to customer demand. We have had customers asking for this interface so we could automate some information gathering for reports along with workflow optimization. This meeting was well planned and well executed and, at the end of the second day, major roadblocks had been eliminated and both systems were communicating bi-directionally. There is some ongoing detail that needs to be accomplished, but it is very close to being ready to install in a customer beta site for field testing. More on this as it happens, but this is first of many integrations like this that could become recurring revenue for Lone Star. Building recurring revenue is one of Lone Star’s annual initiatives.
Last week, 23 Lone Star Communications employees had the opportunity to attend the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference. It was an opportunity to see several outstanding speakers starting with Dr. Kuehl on the economy. Other speakers discussed teams and investing in them beyond just salary, Culture and Brand, Overcoming the Change, labor shortages and so forth. We all had an opportunity to learn something, and it gave us a chance to confirm that what we are doing is right for our employees. This also gave our employees a chance to interact with their peers from the different Lone Star offices in person and to exchange ideas and stories. It was nice to be back face-to-face this year and not having to do this event virtually again. It was a very good conference and will be returning to Las Colinas again next year. If you have an interest in attending one of these conferences, let me know. Lone Star has had the largest contingent of people for the last 5 years because this conference is simply that good, and we continue to benefit from the experience.
There is a lot more to share so we will do an update in a week or so. Thanks everyone for what you do for Lone Star Communications. 2022 will be a very challenging year for Lone Star and it will be pivotal year for our organic growth. More on the later. Until the update.
March 2, 2022
Procedural Change: Asset Tracking
Tracking to Room Level: In the fall of 2017 with the adoption of the Solutions 360 product Q360 ERP software, we were given the availability to track assets down to the room level for design and installation. We thought this would be of benefit in any future FDA recall of a nurse call product in an acute care hospital. This gave us the ability to locate the faulty device more accurately, right to the room instead of just the job. Currently we track any serialized asset down to the room where it is installed. This has been helpful in the sense of parts accountability, but it is also added more touches along the way and has created unnecessary inefficiencies.
In the five years we have been tracking to room level there have been very limited FDA recalls and we have not seen any benefit to going to this level of detail. We believe that the labor it takes to gather this information does not appear to benefit us in the way we had expected. Due to becoming arduous to move items between assigned rooms or projects, installers and operations personnel have suggested that tracking the assets to the floor level is sufficient to get our job done and management agrees.
Therefore, beginning with projects designed and installed after March 1st this year, Lone Star is changing its policy and asking engineering and operations personnel in all offices to change the design to track to the floor level and not to room level. If a customer requires room level tracking, we will provide that level of design, otherwise, floor level will become the new Lone Star standard for detail. Headend devices and IP addressable devices will still be labeled with room numbers.
What will this give us? Less labor expended to make that association both at the engineering and technician level as well as more flexibility when it comes to dealing with a failed part needing to be swapped with another known good part on a project.
For projects that are already in our system this way (room level), we won't make any changes. We will let that tracking system run its course. In the Education Market (not in Houston), LSCI will continue to track Telecenter assets to the classroom level.
The Project Manager and Superintendent will remain in charge of the equipment and parts and have accountability for any missing equipment. Any gap that is created from tracking to the floor level should not increase internal change orders to compensate for lost equipment.
Thanks go out to our technicians that brought this condition to light in past Quality Management discussions. Also, thanks to the operations group across offices where this was discussed in recent PM meetings. We are projecting that any process improvement that we can implement will make the jobs of our technicians easier, more efficient, and will also enhance future profit sharing.
- Ray Bailey, President