The chief executive officer of a Bloomington-based company that develops automated training software for the military and first responders believes his industry is nearing a "sea change" of opportunity for potential growth. Ari Vidali, who founded Envisage Technologies LLC 15 years ago, says a combination of factors, including imminent mass retirements of Baby Boomers and increased demand for training techniques in the wake of high-profile deaths during arrests, is driving demand. He says "old approaches no longer apply" to the way police, firefighters and homeland protection forces are trained.
He adds that incidents like the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, which touched off days of riots and raised questions about police training tactics have brightened the spotlight on businesses like Envisage. He says agencies ranging from local to state to the federal levels are seeking more options that not only will train their employees, but also prove the programs were complete. As a response, the company just rolled out its new FirstForward Pro platform, which Vidali describes as a LinkedIn for industry professionals. The new features include methods of demonstrating that important policy and organizational documents have been read and properly acknowledged.
Vidali tells Inside INdiana Business filling the ranks of his own work force will continue to be a challenge as technology companies continue to sprout in Bloomington, Indianapolis and elsewhere throughout the state, Vidali says he is seeing the potential talent pool continue to tighten, but he has had success in luring more experienced workers from out-of-state to fill open positions. Envisage Technologies employs 75 and most are based at the Bloomington headquarters.
Including Envisage, Vidali has served as lead founder of six high-tech business over the course of 20 years. He started the Institute For Operational Readiness and Continuous Education in Security, a public-private consortium dedicated to research into the application of effective practices, methodologies and continuous learning technologies for first responders industries.
The company says it serves 1.1 million first responders, agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and 17 statewide deployments, including several in Indiana. Vidali says Envisage was launched "in a little barn" on the city’s east side in 2001 and its rapid growth has continued, last year notching up 70 percent.
Envisage Technologies CEO Ari Vidali tells Inside INdiana Business filling the ranks of his work force will always be a challenge.