Michigan video company finds law enforcement market

 Latest innovation is a $300 night-vision camera that can clip onto a police uniform


By Jim Harger
The Grand Rapids Press

BYRON CENTER, Mich. (AP) — Pro-Vision Video Systems keeps finding new markets for its video cameras and recording systems.

With a new “BodyCam” that can be clipped onto the uniform of a police officer or security guard, Pro-Vision’s sales are poised to leap beyond camera systems they have been selling for commercial truck fleets, school buses and police cars, according to The Grand Rapids Press.

“Our growth in the next five years will outpace the growth we’ve seen in our first 10 years,” says Pro-Vision founder, president and CEO Steve Peacock, of the firm he and his wife, Liz, started in their basement 10 years ago.

Even though Pro-Vision made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies for three years in a row, Peacock said he is keeping growth down to a sustainable level.

Peacock says their success lies in creating products that help small businesses, police departments and school systems adopt the latest technology without busting their budgets.

Their latest innovation is the BodyCam, a $300 night-vision camera that can clip onto a uniform and produce high-definition video recordings that can be easily downloaded and stored. The system can record up to 18 hours of activity.

The camera can produce a record of a police officer or security guard’s interaction with the public in any situation. Most importantly, it can be used to refute claims of excessive force or misconduct, Peacock said.

“This produces a solution to a very large problem for law enforcement agencies,” Peacock said. “With these cameras, there’s no question of what went on in that situation.”

After just four months on the market, Peacock said they’ve outfitted more than 100 police departments with the BodyCam — about 2 percent of the potential market.

To handle the surging demand for the new product, Peacock recently purchased a 60-foot trailer and parked it in the warehouse for the four sales persons whom they hired to handle the new product line.

Pro-Vision, whose sales were just under $10 million last year, expects to add $2 million in sales in the next year just on the BodyCam alone, Peacock said.

Peacock said Pro-Vision has been successful because they have developed products that beat their competition on price and innovation. While most of their products are produced overseas, they are assembled locally, he said.

“We’re shipping all over the world,” he said, pointing to the 19 national flags that hang from the rafters of his company’s warehouse and headquarters building.

Pro-Vision began by supplying built-in rear vision cameras for commercial truck fleets. They expanded their product line to include police departments, which needed in-car video systems and school systems, which needed cameras inside their buses.

In every market they entered, they were able to beat the price or the features of their competition. Peacock said they also have not come close to saturating the demand in each of their markets.

So far, Peacock said they have resisted biting off more than his 30 employees can chew by avoiding the high-volume world of consumer electronics. Neither have they sought to become an original equipment supplier to automakers.

Though Pro-Vision advertises and sends its sales staff to trade shows, Peacock said his sales staff focuses on the middle market through the tried-and-true methods of making personal sales calls. “You can’t advertise your way into success and you can’t trade show your way into success,” he says.

Peacock also dismisses concerns about increasing encroachments on privacy through the growing use of video cameras to monitor activity in public buildings or on streets.

“They’re not spying,” he says of his customers. “When you step into a hospital, you’re on camera. When you step into a 7-Eleven, you’re on camera. In this litigious society, it’s a necessary evil.”