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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2017

Providing the best cellular-wireless solutions: OptConnect

thesiliconreview-chris-baird-president-optconnect-17When ATMs first appeared, network access meant dial-up over conventional landlines. For decades ATM owners and technicians had to deal with finding lines, running lines, activating lines. Installing an ATM required talking to the phone company, an Internet provider, and sometimes even a city official to approve digging or running that phone line.

Wired Internet appeared and while able to transfer more data, it was not much better on the installation and operation front. To get an ATM running you still had to deal with the location’s management, IT department, and their Internet provider. This could needlessly add days or weeks to what was otherwise a simple install.

While deep in the trenches Burt and Tim Matthews, who founded ATMequipment.com, fought with the same above-mentioned issues. They quickly realized there was a large gap between the needs of the industry, and the solutions being provided. Andthat gap was causing a lot of needless friction and loss.

The Request That Launched OptConnect

The catalyst for Burt and Tim came when a client asked for help connecting his ATM at an outdoor event. They promised they’d figure it out and help him get connected. The solution turned out to be a new technology of cellular-wireless data: essentially a cellphone for your ATM.

They quickly realized this could be a solution for ATM operators all over the country. They immediately started the company OptConnect, put Chris Baird as its manager, and hired a small team to start exploring how to make these cellular modems to help other ATM owners.

About the company

In the past 10 years, OptConnect has grown from that small team into a company of nearly 100 employees. Chris Baird, now the President, is excited about the company’s growth and future. Being closely connected to their sister company, ATMequipment.com, gave OptConnect a keen insight to the ATM industry where they focused the energy during their early years. They worked with ATMequipment.com and ATM owners to develop sleeker, more reliable cellular modems that filled the gap and eased the friction of ATM installation and operation. And hearing about maintenance issues, they took the next step to improve service by becoming a fully managed service provider. No need to call the internet service provider, or the cell service company, or a hardware manufacturer when things go wrong with your connection. Call OptConnect. They’ll contact everyone else and help you work through your connectivity issues, should they arise.

ATMs were only the beginning. As the needs for machine-to-machine connection and the “Internet of Things” have exploded, OptConnect catapulted into the PoS (Point of Sale), Digital Signage, Kiosk, Micro Market, and Utility spaces. But OptConnect has not forgotten its ATM roots and still talks openly with ATM owners on how to continue to improve its products for this core client industry. 

“We believe in innovation. It is what gave birth to our company, and we continue to innovate each year” 

Using OptConnect alleviates many of the pain points owners experience with the installation, operation, and maintenance of their machines. Rather than running a hardwired network line, with OptConnect you avoid all of the mess and simply plug in their cellular modem. No one has to first give your permission. No drilling in walls or crawling in cramped, dusty ceiling spaces. 

And better yet, no need to struggle with the location’s IT department over access to their network. You don’t need their password or permission. Just connect power to the OptConnect modem and you have your access. 

OptConnect works with all major cellular providers and will ensure the best provider for the strongest signal in your location. They worry about the little details so you don’t have to.

And if your machine loses connection somehow, you no longer find out about it hours later and have to call the location and track down their IT department. OptConnect’s support staff gets an update when a modem loses connection. At the same time an automated alert is sent to the contact you supplied, whether email or text.

OptConnect now utilizes Terminal ID for ATMs, which means through their portal called Summit, the serial numbers of modems and ATMs are automatically synced under the location you named for the devices. So you don’t have to dig through papers trying to figure out which ATM is down, which modem is offline, and where on earth they are located. You know. Immediately.

Summit also provides real-time statics on your ATM and modem. You can look at data usage and gauge when the last transaction took place and notice if your ATM usage appears incorrect. You know to check on the machine long before anyone complains it may be malfunctioning. 

As new hardware is developed, OptConnect continues to dialogue with customers seeking input on how to continue to improve their products and service. They truly believe in innovation and are seeking to excel day after day, in every avenue. Customers’ ease and success are their top priority.

Culture of Community

OptConnect focuses on the growth and development of its three main pillars: Customers, Employees, and Community. Along with helping customers succeed, OptConnect also takes an interest in its employees growth. They encourage employees to attend conferences and courses to further their skills and improve their toolsets. Employees are even allowed bonus paid time off for family matters, and humanitarian work. OptConnect wants employees to succeed in work and their person lives.

For the past 4 years, OptConnect has been part of the Grant Victor Cares initiative to improve the education of students, and the lives of families in southern Kenya. Through financing school buildings, desks, books they help students to lift themselves from poverty. They also have employee competitions to raise funds and donate supplies like pencils, clothes, and medical supplies. They have sent employees to the villages to help drill wells, build water cisterns, and supply medical clinics. This helps the Kenyan people, and teaches and enriches the OptConnect employees. 

On the local front, they have helped clients and families in need with food, clothing, and financial donations.

These three pillars improve lifein multiple ways for everyone. As Chris Baird often points out, for him this is what business is about. OptConnect provides a needed service to customers, easing their jobs and helping them save money. Doing so they generate a vibrant income that provides stable employment, furthers education, gives money to other businesses for their services, and also improves their local community and the world community at large. A strong business helps everybody improve. 

Future goals and growth

OptConnect plays an important role in machine-to-machine connectivity. It has several accessories and software products slated to launch in the near future that will continue to aid ATM operators, and those in other spheres. The company is seeing fast sales growth and consequently a growing employee base. Its future is bright. 

OptConnect is excited to be a great place to work, awarded one of Utah’s best several years in a row, and also one of the 100 fastest growing Utah companies. They are continuing to develop their core ATM industry. They are also looking to continue their rapid expansion into other markets.

OptConnect continues to grow rapidly, and the future looks bright ahead. 

Meet the President of OptConnect 

Chris Baird is the President of OptConnect and has been with the company since it started. Chris is an energetic leader with 10+ years of combined B2B sales, and general management with an emphasis in “Machine to Machine” (M2M) and “Internet of Things” (IoT) industries. He enjoys wearing multiple hats and meeting the various demands required in order to effectively run a successful business, but leaves behind everything at the door when he goes home to his wife and his three kids.

“OptConnect offers a completely managed service, designed to make your data connection simple and reliable.”