Over the years, CEC has evolved with technology and industry changes, transforming from a small local radio shop to a nationally recognized systems integrator. With offices in the Midwest serving local and national customers, our teams work with customers to custom design, implement, and service technology solutions to address their specific business needs. We stay ahead of technology so you don’t have to.
The CEC Experience
At CEC, The Experience Matters. The expertise of our people, and the experience that our customers have with each interaction, is what makes our client partnerships great.
To connect loyal customers with our talented people to solve business challenges.
1940s & 1950s
Vacuum tube technology is state-of-the-art, driving the expansion and commercialization of analog and digital computers, sound reproduction, and large telephone networks. At this time, mobile radios took up the trunk of a car. CEC is established as a small company that offers radio repair services. A few years later, it starts to offer nurse call solutions to the healthcare market.
- CEC is founded in Cedar Rapids, IA, as a small radio repair shop in 1946. Its first customer is Checkered Cab.
- CEC receives certification from Dukane (now known as GE Healthcare) for nurse call and intercom systems, bringing CEC into the healthcare communications market in 1956.
- CEC is named as the Motorola Service Station for Cedar Rapids, IA, and Iowa City, IA.
- The first commercial computer is created.
- Marking the beginning of a decades-long partnership, CEC begins working on the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ nurse call and intercom systems.
- Master Antenna Television Systems (MATVs) are installed in commercial businesses.
1960s & 1970s
Transistors and logic circuits enter the technology marketplace and make vacuum tube technology obsolete. Technical devices become smaller and more portable. CEC grows beyond radio repair service and also begins offering professional sound and intercom systems to schools and houses of worship.
- CEC experiences continued growth in Motorola repair services. As a result, it opens an office in Iowa City, IA.
- CEC begins working with buildings in the education and religion markets, offering solutions for school intercoms and professional sound systems.
- CEC establishes a longstanding working relationship with Rockwell Collins.
- The first commercial smoke detectors enter the marketplace.
The concept of networking starts a communications revolution. Cellular technology is born, and cellular devices later become everyday appliances. CEC enters the IT, structured cabling, and security markets. CEC also continues to expand, opening two more branches.
- CEC designs and installs a broadband system at John Deere Dubuque. This system is the first in Iowa to successfully transmit voice, video, and data, launching CEC into the IT market.
- To expand CEC’s footprint and accommodate a growing customer base, CEC opens its Davenport, IA, and Des Moines, IA, branches.
- CEC installs Carver Hawkeye Arena’s sound system (which was one of the largest sound systems in Iowa at the time).
- CEC develops a partnership with John Deere and becomes an award-winning supplier and trusted global partner.
- CEC offers structured cabling solutions, and its efficiencies make cabling an art form.
- The security industry booms, and CEC enters this realm at the request of its customers. Today, CEC is known for its security expertise, offering design and project management for security systems worldwide.
Unlikely technologies start to seamlessly integrate as a means to solve communications issues and make businesses more efficient. The Internet changes the face of organizations everywhere, and makes new ideas possible. CEC starts designing and installing network backbones, enters the fire alarm market, and establishes its Dubuque, IA, branch.
- Jim Smith acquires CEC. His entrepreneurial style and infusion of capital provide CEC with tools to grow to another level.
- The dot-com era emerges.
- CEC becomes a Cisco Premier Certified Partner. A partnership with this global player allows CEC to better serve enterprise customers, giving them tools and technology to manage their networks.
- CEC designs and installs the first Gigabit network backbone in Iowa at the John Deere Davenport Works. This installation was also one of the first Gigabit networks in the United States.
- CEC installs the utility-owned metropolitan area network (MAN) for Cedar Falls Utilities, which is one of the first MANs in the United States.
- CEC integrates an infrared location system with a nurse/patient communication system (one of the first integrations like this in the United States).
- To meet the growing demand for local support and service, CEC opens its Dubuque, IA, service center.
- After several customer requests, CEC enters the fire alarm market, which is now one of the company’s key specializations.
2000 to 2009
Social media, blogs, and podcasts are the latest means of communication. Normal, everyday tasks now depend on converged and online technologies that unite voice, data, and video. Integration is more crucial than ever to get the best performance out of systems and technologies. CEC complete acquisition to help increase the company’s solutions offerings.
- CEC installs the MOTOTRBO digital radio system with GPS tracking for the Muscatine Community School District, making it one of the first district-wide radio systems of this type in the country.
- Security technology becomes more IT-centric, and CEC becomes a Lenel-certified partner so it can offer superior integration capabilities, Microsoft compatibility, and expanded access control offerings to enterprise customers.
- The events of 9/11 change the security landscape, making building owners everywhere more aware of holes in their existing security systems and plans.
- Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans and causes a national focus on business continuity planning.
- CEC implements the first Electronic Systems Technician apprenticeship program in the United States, and was commended by the U.S. Department of Labor for this achievement.
- CEC purchases Entre, giving the company expanded capabilities in application development and web design. Thanks to the development department, CEC can more efficiently help customers with system and technology integration.
- The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) makes the most extensive changes to the National Fire Alarm Codes in more than 20 years, shifting the responsibility of testing, inspecting, and maintaining fire alarm systems to building owners.
- CEC implements the first Motorola MOTOTRBO Connect Plus radio system in the United States.
2010 to Today
The cloud and BYOD (bring your own device) are not only changing technology plans, but they are changing how organizations communicate, creating enhanced learning environments, and fostering the ability to bring people together from around the world. New technology and the increased functionality of smartphones have created connectivity and mobile collaboration opportunities anywhere. Security is also changing, with easier access to drone technology and the heightened need for cybersecurity education and protection.
- CEC designs and installs key components of the emergency command center at General Mills. This project is one of the leading manufacturer command centers in the country.
- The purchase of this WI-based A&A Fire and Security solidifies CEC’s role in offering fire alarm inspection, testing, and maintenance services, and solidifies CEC's presence in Wisconsin.
- CEC plays an integral role in the technology design and development of the Roshek Building (a key historical, LEED-certified building in Dubuque, IA).
- Celebration of CEC’s 70th anniversary.
- CEC becomes an authorized BICSI training facility.
- The annual CEC Business Technology Conference celebrates 10 years of providing technology education.
- PoE LED lighting is added to CEC’s technology portfolio.
- CEC is named a national Top 50 integrator for the 10 years in row by SCN Magazine.