Setting the Stage
Imagine working in critical communications back when telephone analyzers, miniature tape recorders, and metal detectors were considered cutting edge technology. No smartphones, no digital maps, no video surveillance, just in-the-moment awareness and basic message sent/received capabilities.
Given how much communications technology has advanced, it feels like I could be describing the way things were a century ago, doesn’t it?
But in fact, that was the marketplace when Milt Zeutschel and John Reece entered it back in 1980 when they leased a small office space in between a hair salon and Christian Reading Room in a quiet Seattle suburb strip mall. While their initial charter was relatively humble – to provide better paging systems than what was currently available to volunteer fire departments so they could communicate more effectively – their ambitions were spectacular.
They called their new venture Zetron.
Fast forward forty years and the mission critical communications landscape has transformed into a truly innovative global industry, and that small regional business next to the hair salon now maintains a robust portfolio of leading communications solutions that serve mission critical operations in more than 100 countries around the world. And yet, in the three decades I’ve been privileged to be a part of the Zetron team, I can confidently say the core mission, vision and values of Zetron have remained literally unchanged.
As true today as it was in 1980, Zetron’s primary and unwavering mission is to serve and support organizations and individuals in public safety, transportation, utilities, and other markets where efficient communications are not only important, but are truly the lifeblood of successful mission critical operations. And we do that by putting uncompromising quality, reliability and customer service in and around the communications solutions and services we provide. It was our focus from day one, and will continue to be our one and only job going forward.
A Look Back
It’s intriguing to revisit all the communications industry has accomplished in the past 40 years. We’ve witnessed the successful fusion of technology and human intelligence, with numerous pioneering solutions and services along the way.
While Zetron’s beginnings in volunteer fire department paging systems may seem simple now, it set the stage for what would become an enduring legacy of innovation. Six years into business, Zetron debuted the industry’s first user-programmable microprocessor-based radio dispatch console. Then, in 1996, we began manufacturing both call taking and radio dispatch solutions – a first in the public safety realm. Since then, we’ve continued to push the boundaries and set higher standards, expanding global offerings, earning ISO certification, and developing integrations and solutions to current and emerging standards, such as P25 and FirstNet. And that really just scratches the surface.
Although Zetron has obviously grown, we’ve worked hard to maintain our family business feel because I believe it helps keep us grounded and centered on our purpose. Regardless of where in the world our people call home, our collective mission remains constant – to serve the devoted, courageous, and too often thankless communications organizations and professionals who make it their mission to put the safety and welfare of the communities they serve first.
In fact, that’s what I love most about our company culture still today. We listen more than we talk. We meet our customers where they are. And we forge lasting, often multi-decade relationships based on ethics, understanding, and mutual benefit, versus transactions or sales targets.
The Heart of Our Success
In an era where most businesses don’t last four years, much less 40, the key to our longevity is quite simple actually. It’s based on the sincere understanding that our success is in fact tethered to the long term viability and success of our customers, partners, and employees. When you treat each with the same honesty, respect and loyalty you would your family, it fosters long term trust and relationships, which are of course the most important assets any business can possess, be it 1980 or 2021.
We’re fortunate to maintain as many multi-generational customer, partner, and employee relationships as we do, especially in an era when alternatives are plenty and retention tends to be measured more in months than decades. Together we’ve evolved.
Through collaboration and shared visions for the future we’ve accomplished extraordinary triumphs and milestones, while overcoming major challenges and setbacks. And despite the challenging times the world faces today, tomorrow will be brighter as a result of our collective commitment to staying true to our values, pressing forward, and understanding that together, we can accomplish or endure anything.
The Next Forty Years
As we look forward, we are committed to leveraging the incredible momentum we have as a company, community, and family, to reach new heights. It won’t take nearly forty more years until we’re able to say, “Doesn’t 2020 seem like it could’ve been a century ago?”
Through our mutually beneficial relationships and community rooted values, we look forward to enhancing our offerings, expanding our worldwide presence, and setting the bar even higher for mission critical communications technology and services everywhere.
On behalf of all of us at Zetron, thank you to all who have been a part of our durability and success over the years. You’ve inspired us and impacted our lives here at home and around the globe. We are grateful and humbled at the opportunity to work with such amazing people every single day. And as we move forward into 2021 and beyond, we pledge to continue serving you with respect, devotion, and integrity, just as Milt and John originally envisioned 40 years ago.
We are Zetron.
By: Brent Dippie
We’d also like to thank the Puget Sound Business Journal for the recent interview and article acknowledging this major milestone. If you’re interested, you can read the interview here.
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