Case Study | How Vision Net positioned Pioneer Technical Services for continued growth

Headquartered in Butte, Montana and with 9 offices across 3 states, Pioneer Technical Services is a full-service engineering and environmental services firm. Pioneer provides its clients with environmental, civil, and geotechnical engineering, construction management, land surveying, and materials testing expertise. Projects are often complex and multifaceted, ranging from abandoned mine reclamation and water resource management to infrastructure and municipal projects and oil and gas industry services.

Much of Pioneer’s work occurs in out-of-the-way locations, such as Kellogg, ID and Anaconda, MT. Like most businesses today, Pioneer’s work runs on the internet. Given the firm’s intricate projects and often remote locations, reliable internet connectivity is vital to the company’s ability to meet customer needs while keeping work teams connected. The need to share large amounts of data; drawings, renderings, contracts and other highly-detailed materials, significantly increases Pioneer’s network requirements.

THE CHALLENGES

Ensuring and managing reliable internet connectivity across numerous office locations, many of them remote, in a cost-effective manner

While a traditional T1 network functioned well for Pioneer, associated costs were placing undue burdens on the budget. As the company grew, these costs ballooned. Pioneer sought a cost-saving solution with no loss of reliability while providing greater visibility into its network.

Testing and then solving connectivity in remote locations

An accompanying challenge Pioneer faced, and one that placed undue burdens on Pioneer’s IT professionals, involved the complex process of determining whether a possible location had reliable internet service and, if not, were there viable solutions to address the problem? Pioneer needed to research and test each site under consideration, consult with local internet providers, and continually monitor and manage all solutions.

THE SOLUTION

Tap Vision Net’s telecommunications expertise
Vision Net addressed both of Pioneer’s challenges head-on. The telecommunications solution provider began transitioning Pioneer’s traditional MPLS network to a software-defined wide area networking solution (SD-WAN) a few years ago. SD-WAN is a broadband system that functions very much like a traditional MPLS network but at a much lower cost. It erases geographic boundaries, a key consideration for Pioneer’s multi-state network, and provides greater visibility and accessibility into the company’s continually expanding network.

“Vision Net’s SD-WAN technology is a great fit for companies like Pioneer,” says Vision Net Operations Manager Gary Evans. “It offers a host of benefits beyond increased visibility, including off-loading non-critical data to less expensive circuits and providing automated failover between last-mile circuits for a dramatic reduction of outages.”

As Pioneer CEO Brad Archibald puts it, “reliability-wise, it’s been solid. We’re truly pleased with the service Vision Net provides.”

As for the second challenge, Vision Net’s telecommunications professionals work closely with the Pioneer team whenever the company considers a new location, testing bandwidth and connectivity at expansion sites while partnering with the area’s local internet service provider (ISP) to address problems and, when appropriate, provide enhancements or improvements. If the site is selected, Vision Net continues to be involved, essentially managing the process and overseeing the local provider.

As Evan notes, this value-add is a key differentiator for Vision Net. “We believe staying nimble and flexible for our customers is critical to offering them the best network solutions for their unique technical and budgetary requirements.”

Pioneer IT Manager Ryan Bekkum says having Vision Net oversee this important piece of the business is highly valuable as it “frees us up to focus on our own customers’ needs.” He further notes that Vision Net “often sees problems before we do, and then works diligently to solve them.”

CASE IN POINT

A few years ago, Pioneer sought to connect to its network a new office located in an isolated valley outside of Kellogg, Idaho. Finding a service provider in the area capable of delivering symmetrical bandwidth of up to 20 Mbps proved challenging.

As Bekkum explains it, he literally couldn’t find anyone who could meet these standards. “Cell service seemed to be our only option,” he said, “but we know from experience that it’s often not reliable or scalable enough for our needs.”

In search of a better solution, the company sought Vision Net’s guidance. “Vision Net stepped in and worked to find a local provider that could be tapped and at the right price,” Bekkum said. Working with Frontier Communications on behalf of Pioneer, Vision Net was able to provide a solution designed to fit Pioneer’s needs on budget. And Vision Net’s 24/7, 365 Network Operations Center (NOC) continually monitors the service to ensure no loss of connectivity or speed. “I have great peace of mind knowing that the Vision Net team is continually scrutinizing and supporting our network,” Bekkum says.

THE OUTCOMES | Vision Net supports Pioneer’s growth initiatives with sound expansion plans

On behalf of Pioneer, Vision Net sources, orders, supports and manages the company’s multi-faceted, multi-location internet service. “It’s a key role for our company and one we’re pleased that Vision Net oversees.” Bekkum says. Archibald notes that it’s critical that each new site can successfully tie back into the network with reliable service. Vision Net’s partnership, he says, plays an important role in helping to determine site viability. “It’s absolutely critical to our business model,” he says. “I trust Vision Net to help us achieve and maintain this at each of our sites.”

Both Montana-based companies, Vision Net and Pioneer have now worked together for nearly 6 years. When asked if the Big Sky State connection is important, Bekkum says, “Relationships are key to our business and I do like that we can meet in person on occasion and yes, there is something to be said about working with local businesses.”

Read more about Vision Net’s SD-WAN solution.