When he took over EF Johnson Technologies roughly a year and a half ago as its president and CEO, Andrew Adams immediately set out to change the company’s culture, which he described as financial-first rather than customer-first. One approach was to place an emphasis on understanding the issues that the company’s dealers were having and then actually address them. So far, so good, Adams said.

“Many of our customers have noticed the change,” he said. “During a dealer day we held at IWCE this year, one of our dealers spoke and described his experience with EFJ as the ‘ugly, bad and good,’ in that sequence, with the last year being the good. He said that we had stood by him in ways that no other big company would have done.”

Another approach was to solicit customer input when designing products, which EFJ did in developing its new Viking VP600 portable radio. Introduced last month at IWCE, the subscriber device is software-upgradable to Project 25 Phase 2, IP67-rated for ruggedness and ergonomically designed. Just as important, the radio has features that will matter greatly to those who use it, according to Adams.

“It’s the little things that make a big difference; for example, the placement of the volume and channel knobs,” he said. “You don’t want a police officer’s flak jacket to accidently turn down the volume on the radio when he turns around.”

In addition, the indicator light is recessed on the top of the radio so that only the officer can see it — a very important during covert operations at night, Adams said. Also, the emergency button is positioned so that a first responder can find by simply grabbing the antenna and sliding his hand down.

“All of this was the result of feedback we got from first responders as we developed the prototypes,” he said.

With the introduction of the Viking portable radio, which follows last year’s introduction of its Atlas solution that supports simulcast functionality for both conventional and trunking, the company now has P25 covered from network to subscriber gear, Adams said. However, looking toward the future, Adams believes that EFJ will concentrate solely on the subscriber side of Long-Term Evolution, or LTE — the 4G technology chosen for public safety’s fledgling nationwide broadband communications network.

“We just don’t have the scale to get involved on a network level,” Adams said. “So we’re going to focus on the end-user, both applications and devices.”

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