A+ Technology: New England is hot, but LI is home

Northern exposure: President David Antar (left) and Jorge Garcia, head of A+ Technology's New England operations, enjoy some screen time.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The recent opening of A+ Technology and Security Solutions’ Connecticut satellite office doesn’t signal the pending defection of one of Long Island’s brighter tech stars.

Instead, the new office – a 7,000-square-foot space in the City of Bridgeport, to ultimately be staffed by 20 employees – is just part of a larger expansion effort, according to President David Antar, who promises that Long Island will remain the epicenter of A+ Technology operations.

David Antar: Expansion, not defection.

David Antar: Expansion, not defection.

“We’re absolutely staying on Long Island,” Antar told Innovate LI. “All of our back-office stuff is taken care of in New York, and we will continue to grow the operation here.”

A+ Technology has been prepping the Connecticut office, which officially opened July 12, since October. The office and the company’s New England operations are being managed by former Bridgeport facilities director Jorge Garcia.

Several factors compelled the 28-year-old audio/video and security expert to select Bridgeport as its New England base, Antar noted, including a strong working relationship with Garcia and current city officials and easy access for Long Island-based employees via the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co., which runs daily ferries across Long Island Sound.

“We’d done a very large project for the City of Bridgeport and we found it to be a very good location,” Antar noted. “And it actually creates a connection point between Port Jefferson and Bridgeport that allows us to staff the office with people who live on Long Island and can take the ferry over.”

Of the seven employees currently staffing the Bridgeport office, two are Long Islanders, including a sales executive who relocated from Babylon to Port Jefferson specifically to put the Connecticut office within easy reach.

Antar said other Islanders were likely to be in the mix as A+ Technology bulks up its Bridgeport staff, part of an overall hiring spree that will increase the company’s total roster from its current 88 to 100 or more by year’s end.

To make it easier for those commuters, the firm has leased a number of Toyota Priuses and “positioned them in Connecticut,” Antar noted, allowing Islanders to walk onto the ferry in Port Jefferson and have ready transportation to and from the office on the other side.

A+ Technologies is also looking to keep the lines tight between its Bay Shore and Bridgeport offices though the use of “telepresence robots” – remote-controlled automatons that take videoconferencing where it’s never gone before by adding a degree of mobility.

Looking a bit like computer screens on wheeled pedestals, the units can “roll right into somebody’s office and let you have a conversation with them,” Antar noted, and A+ Technology – which resells telepresence units for a California manufacturer – is getting a lot of mileage out of robots in its New York and Connecticut offices, and some even farther afield.

“Our head of business development lives in Colorado and comes to meetings all the time on the robot,” the president said. “It’s as if you were there.”

Noting several completed video-surveillance projects for customers in Connecticut and other New England locales, Antar said the Bridgeport office is key to A+ Technology’s expansion plans. The company has already made a mark north of NYC: In addition to an award-winning 2014 project that provided integrated security solutions for Bridgeport’s public parks and schools, the company has worked with the New Canaan School District in Connecticut and Endicott College in Massachusetts.

And New England, according to Antar, remains ripe with commercial potential.

“We believe it’s a great expansion ground for us,” he noted. “We bring some very innovative technology that doesn’t exist there.”

Further opportunities await farther north and to the south. Antar said his firm is “in talks with companies to potentially acquire” in New Jersey and in Buffalo, adding “our intention is to open our next satellite office in New Jersey.”

“We’re definitely expanding our footprint as an organization,” he said.

But the expansion will remain rooted in Bay Shore, where the circa-1988 tech firm will continue to roll out new products and services. Among them is a new pilot program for the Suffolk County Police Department that expands on another A+ Technology job for the City of Bridgeport, this a 2015 effort to route the city’s multitude of remote video feeds to a single command center.

In the SCPD’s case, A+ Technology is using software created by IP Video Corp. – a division of Advance Convergence Group, a holding company Antar launched in 2012 – to create a system that allows third parties to make their private security cameras available to Suffolk police in a crisis situation.

The voluntary registry wouldn’t give police full-time access to video feeds, Antar noted, but would permit “event-based” access by county cops, “triggered by an emergency.”

While various legal points must be addressed and the system fine-tuned before the voluntary-access system can make a large-scale debut, the basic technology is ready for a field test. Antar said a pilot program that will give Suffolk police access to video feeds in case of an emergency at various Eastern Suffolk BOCES facilities is in the works and should be running by the start of the new school year.

Once the pilot program is active and the legalese is refined, Antar said he expects a larger rollout of the emergency-video access program “sooner than later … probably within a couple of months.”

When it does roll out, it will roll out of Bay Shore, Antar added, where A+ Technology – with a nod to regional R&D institutions – is “doing some really off-the-charts stuff, from a technology point of view.”

“We get a lot of interns from Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University,” the president said. “And we’re in talks with several other colleges on the Island.

“We do struggle, trying to hire the kind of talent we need, with a lot of competition from companies like Facebook and Google,” he added. “But there’s still plenty of talent to be found on Long Island.”