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Opportunity Brings Growth

WB_John Pile_Tech Electronics (6 of 12)

Tech Electronics and its employees have been a growing family since 1963, when founder Jim Canova first opened its doors in St. Louis. Now, 50 years later, there are three generations working in the St. Louis office and more than 250 employees total.

“Only 5 percent of businesses started by families remain family owned and last 50 years,” says John Pile, director of Tech Electronics Inc. of Columbia. “When you take care of your employees and treat them well, that’s what keeps the company strong.”

Tech Electronics installs, services and monitors systems such as telephone, nurse call, security, fire alarm, sound, Wi-Fi, AV and IT in commercial, industrial, health care and education. Pile says the main reason he loves his job is because there is a strong emphasis on family, both personal family and work family.

“Our owners will always say, ‘It’s not about us; it’s about all of you,’” he says. “Everybody’s got everybody’s backs, and that’s how Tech Electronic functions and how we promote that family concept.”

Collaboration and an evolving landscape

Pile has worked with the company for nine years, starting as a construction salesperson. After serving in the military as a law enforcement specialist from 1977 to 1985, he knew his knowledge of security would come in handy when he became an employee for Tech Electronics.

He also incorporated his love for the University of Missouri in with the business by deciding to spearhead projects between the university and the company. Pile has only missed one MU football game since 1985. As a big supporter of MU, Tech Electronics has collaborated with the school in such projects as updating the sound system in the stadium press box, helping build the Golden Girls facility and collecting donations for the golf team at Old Hawthorne.

“While we are providing life safety products to the university, it is also helping a tremendous amount of kids,” Pile says. “Tech Electronics wants to be a part of the university.”

Yet, sometimes keeping up with new systems and projects isn’t so simple, especially with the rate technology is changing. Pile says Tech works to train its employees in productivity, management and IT so the team won’t fall behind.

“When it comes to technology, I look at it as a living breathing organism that is constantly changing,” he says. “That means that you have to have a greater understanding of IT, networking and how things work with each other. You have to build for the future, and that’s what IT is all about.”

Tech Electronics’ technicians can now fill out paperwork with a Bluetooth pen that sends the information to their BlackBerry phones and then on to the office to complete it. This method is so efficient that the technicians don’t even have to come into the office anymore. Technicians also have GPS devices in their phones so Pile can locate them on his computer and reroute them to the next destination.

A technology-driven town

Technology isn’t the only thing continually evolving and growing. Tech Electronics might have its main hub in St. Louis, but in the past 25 years, it has expanded to open five more offices, including Columbia; Springfield; Indianapolis, Ind.; Chicago; and Bloomington, Ill.

“Columbia is a smaller footprint of St. Louis,” Pile says. “It’s a progressive, technology-driven town with tremendous vision.”

Columbia’s office covers 48 counties and expands from the state lines of Iowa to Arkansas. Jefferson City, Kirksville, Rolla and Lake of the Ozarks are also hotspots for the Columbia location.

Business has been growing so well, in fact, that during the recession, sales remained strong, and the company actually hired people instead of laying them off. Most employees work at Tech Electronics for an average of 14 years. To Pile, this indicates a bright future for the company.

“Opportunity is what brings growth,” Pile says. “When there’s an area where we see an opportunity, we will explore it.”


1963 – Tech Electronics is founded in St. Louis.
1984 – Adds a new office in Columbia
2004 – Works with the University of Missouri to improve the recreational center
2006 – Updates the sound system in the MU football complex
2009 – Helps plan, design and build a new sound system in the Missouri Theatre
2009 – Expands to open a location in Springfield
2011 – Completes offices in Indianapolis, Chicago and Bloomington
2013 – Celebrates 50 years of business

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