It may come as a surprise to Auburn locals that Rolls Royce, Nick Saban, Lady Gaga and other big-name companies and celebrities have common business in Auburn, Alabama. These entities, and others, purchase their communication technology from a provider that started on the sidelines of an Auburn football game and has since been a leader in intercom technology for 27 years.
CoachComm is an Auburn-based, wireless intercom solution provider that supplies 97% of Division 1A colleges, as well as thousands of high school and smaller college programs with professional wireless technologies. Its professional division, Pliant Technologies, is a worldwide provider of wireless communication technology for broadcast, live sound, theater and other applications.
“The technology manufactured by CoachComm is suited for dynamic communication scenarios,” said Tom Turkington, director of technology at CoachComm.
The products use full duplex technology that allows multiple people to speak at once. The technology is also designed to function effectively in difficult RF environments such as a noisy stadium or in national broadcasting.
“The kind of environment that these products are being used in takes a next-level technology to operate well,” said Turkington
Turkington spearheaded the company’s expansion into the non-sport, internally professional division with clients such as NBC, Fox, ESPN, the Sydney Opera House, the Vatican and others.
The company started in 1989 when Peter Amos, an Auburn alumnus with an accounting degree, was asked to operate the coaching headsets for Auburn football. Amos noticed a lack of efficiency with the team’s current headset communication, which created an atmosphere of frustration among the coaching staff.
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The following football season, in 1990, Amos was asked to resume his work operating communication. Amos, a self proclaimed “tinkerer” agreed to the work if he would be supplied with a budget to improve the communication technology, which he was granted.
“The 1990 football season was like night and day– there were no problems,” Amos said.
Amos’ success was noticed by a large manufacturing company, who was in the middle of negotiating a deal with the NFL to sell their headsets.
“They found out what I had done at Auburn and how game changing it was,” Amos said. “They contracted with me, and my first sale ever as CoachComm was to the entire NFL through that company.”
Since the company’s launch in 1991, CoachComm has expanded from a one man operation to employing over 100 people such as human resource employees, new engineers, a marketing team, sales team, manufacturing team, support team and more. Two employees will celebrate their 20-year anniversary at the company this month.
The increase in staff and subsequent increase in engineering experience, business skills, ideas and perspectives has changed the game for CoachComm, Turkington said.
“We do have the ability now, with more people, to have more specialized folks that have skill sets in different areas,” he said. ”That really helps us develop products more efficiently.”
CoachComm is distinct in their business model as they employ a cradle-to-grave process, Amos said.
CoachComm’s products start in-house with a technical idea. Next, an engineering team and manufacturing team develop the idea for the marketing department to market the product to customers. Finally, a sales team sells the finished product.
“Everything is designed and built here in Auburn,” Turkington said.
CoachComm’s company motto is, “For our customers.” Turkington said this phrase can be seen posted around the building and helps the employees gauge from moment to moment if what they are doing will ultimately benefit their customers.
The company will continue to develop new products and dig deeper into their current markets, Amos said.
“We have to keep chasing technology,” he said. “The technology business can’t sit still, we have to keep developing new things.”
Turkington is expectant for the future of CoachComm, especially its Pliant Technologies branch.
“Coachcomm is well positioned to continue to grow and expand into different segments in a worldwide market that is very open to our technology,” Turkington said.
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