Happy 20th Anniversary!
Doug Fearing’s father and grandfather were in the television repair business, and for awhile it looked like his career was headed in that direction, too.
“When I was in high school, my dad told me I would be a repair technician, that I was his ticket to retirement, and that was fine with me,” Fearing says.
When Doug’s dad died at age 50, Fearing went to work as a repairman at BJ’s TV & Appliance in Portage, where he built up a client base of emerging Wisconsin Dells hotels.
“We grew along with the resorts,” Fearing says, adding that his first big job was the installation of a TV and satellite system at the Best Western Ambassador Inn & Suites. “As they got bigger, I started to learn about all of the new technology available.”
In 1997, Fearing bought out the satellite TV and commercial segments of the business from BJ’s TV & Appliance and opened Fearing’s Satellite and Sound in a 600-square-foot facility in Portage. Back then, the primary business consisted of installing satellite, residential custom sound, business video surveillance, and background music systems. Other early clients were (and remain) the Wilderness and Kalahari resorts; current clients include Marcus Theatres.
Fearing’s eventually expanded to a larger facility and added new product lines and services. In 2003, it was named Columbia County’s Small Business of the Year.
“We’ve always been a company that has to keep advancing,” says Fearing. “We didn’t want to sit on our laurels.”
Fearing’s added a sales office in Madison in 2005. In 2009, they relocated the entire operation to a 6,000-square-foot facility on Walsh Road in Madison. But then the recession hit, and Fearing says the business “barely survived.” Sales dropped to half of what they were in 2008, clients cut spending, Fearing’s laid off employees, and Fearing and his wife, Lois (the company’s chief financial officer), stopped taking a regular paycheck.
By 2013, though, the industry began to turn around. In 2015, Fearing’s expanded into the Milwaukee market with an office in Brookfield — the same year it was recognized as one of 10 Dane County Small Businesses of the Year — and Fearing’s has experienced record sales every year since.
Today, the company employs 31 people, who in 2015 collectively helped develop the company’s mission statement: “To create great customer experiences through our technology, innovation, and unrivaled teamwork.” Fearing’s also is a proud supporter of the nonprofit Schools for Haiti program.
Although Doug and Lois’ daughter is the company’s purchasing manager, and she is married to a project manager, no succession plan or exit strategy has been developed, according to Fearing, who is 60 years old.
No plans have been announced for the company’s 20th anniversary, either, although Fearing says this is too major of a milestone to pass up.
“The part of this business that makes it exciting is the technology,” Fearing says. “It’s always changing. Who would have thought 20 years ago that we’d be operating security systems from a cellphone?”
From: http://www.ibmadison.com/In- Business-Madison/January-2017/ Anniversary-companies-stand- the-test-of-time/index.php? cparticle=4&siarticle=3#artanc