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Fifty Years of Excellence

From Telephony to Artificial Intelligence, DES Continues to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Dec 26, 2023

Originally published in Pittsburgh Technology Council's TEQ

Founded in 1973, Dagostino Electronic Services (DES) is celebrating five decades of excellence in the electronic services industry. DES has not only weathered the changes in the industry but has also thrived, building a strong reputation as a trusted and innovative partner. TEQ spoke with Founder Bob Dagostino about the company's milestones, Pittsburgh roots, and their plans for the future.

Q: Congratulations on reaching your 50th anniversary! Could you share some highlights or milestones from the company's history over the past half-century?

Bob D: Thank you! It’s a big milestone. Technology has changed drastically since I started the company. When we started out in 1973, for a lot of people, technology was basically synonymous with “telephone systems”. Fast forward five decades, tech is ubiquitous and ever-present, and DES has flourished into an end-to-end technology integrator and provider of choice for our region’s leading businesses.

Looking back a half-century, DES started as a structured cabling company. At the time, our work was limited to private interconnect telecom companies, such as NEC and Northern Telecom. After the break-up of the Bell System, we built out our voice capabilities.

Telephony opened the door for DES to do technology design and help businesses multiply their productivity. One of our early productivity projects was for a Pittsburgh-based national call center, Reese Brothers that many of us remember fondly. They were truly innovative and responsible for making campaigns such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) a household name. We introduced Automated Dialers which allowed the call system to accurately detect busy signals, no answers or answering machines, and only route the call to a live agent when the signal detected a voice cadence. This modernization boosted agents’ productivity from 15-minutes of real conversation time per hour to 52-minutes per hour.

Efficiencies like this are what you’re always looking for in technology. As technology progresses, we continuously keep our finger on the pulse to develop solutions that maximize productivity. We’ve been boots on the ground as Pittsburgh developed into a hub for maximizing productivity with tech.

Another early project I’ve always been proud of was the data connectivity for the now-iconic Andrew Project at Carnegie Mellon University, building the backbone of their computing infrastructure. We’re lucky to have innovators like CMU in our community.

The Andrew Project proved to me that there was a future in providing and maintaining networking equipment. We started with simple modems, protocol converters, and other ancillary components, and K12 swiftly became our biggest market. School administrators required a network to manage and share documents, and computers became important to the educational experience.

Our experience with networking gave us an edge when we added our next product offerings, Voice over IP and Physical Security to our portfolio, we were able to jump right into complex environments. I can’t talk too much about who we’ve worked with or what we did, but traditional security firms simply did not understand IP networking—they were stuck in the old analog world. While we were deploying server-based storage, they were archiving video tapes in dusty boxes.

This is similar to how we got involved with Audio-Visual systems. With expertise in networking and video, starting in 2015, we could offer cutting-edge simulation labs, emergency operations centers and training venues. One of our coolest projects was the award-winning Eaton Executive Briefing Center. If you haven’t seen this project, search for the photos. Eaton is an incredible company. There, we created a wall-sized touchscreen that we hand built by adding a touch membrane film to a giant slab of glass!

Q: Your roots in Pittsburgh are deep – DES is the preferred technology provider of the Pittsburgh Steelers! Can you tell me more about your relationships with these and other local organizations?

When Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium) was built in place of Three Rivers Stadium, DES was selected to be the Preferred Technology Provider of the Pittsburgh Steelers. DES has been at the forefront of the Steelers fan experience since 2001. The entire networking infrastructure is deployed and maintained by DES, including broadcast enablement, mobile tickets, point of sale, voice systems and the Wi-Fi network. DES technicians are present and on the field at every home game ensuring uninterrupted connectivity for a massively loyal fan base.

DES maintains strong ties with a roster of high-profile, Pittsburgh-based organizations.

Q: How have you evolved and adapted to changes in technology over the past 50 years, and how has this influenced the company's growth and success?

Each era approaches change in its own ways. Not so long ago, the idea of automating jobs was scary and off-limits. Here in 2023 though, AI is the only way some tasks will get done. That’s why it’s such a hot topic now.

Our clients and connections told us this wave was coming years earlier though, so we were ready to launch Pittsburgh AI Works in 2020. Our team can take data that is collected through your other systems, and create customized business intelligence and data solutions.

Similarly, our sustainability & energy division is a response to the need for intelligent and intuitive building technology. Energy prices have been climbing, ESG goals are being implemented, maintenance costs are being scrutinized. We built a group ready for all of this, equipping buildings, campuses and even full commercial property portfolios with what they need to cover these needs, and again, thanks to the best team in the business, I feel like we’re ahead of the curve.

Q: In what ways are you celebrating your anniversary, and how will the company use this milestone as a springboard for future growth and innovation?

When I was a kid, there was this TV program called “Technology at Work” which went through basic science. I loved it and would watch it every day! I still like to use that catchphrase “Technology at Work” to encapsulate what we can do for the workplace. I want our 50thAnniversary to reflect on the transformation that this industry has been through over the past five decades and challenge my team to envision what Technology at Work could look like in ten or twenty years from now. I see DES as the bridge between innovation and commercial utilization. It’s up to us to try out new technology, test and pilot it, prove it, and then deploy it in ways that practically benefit our region.

Q: Looking forward, how do you see the tech landscape evolving in the coming decades, and what role do you hope to play in shaping this future?

Connectivity is just going to get bigger and faster – that’s a certainty! Our in-office Lab is hooked up with Li-Fi, which is the transmission of data through the light spectrum. This transmits data even faster and more securely than Wi-Fi. Our HQ is also powered by Digital Electricity, an innovative and safe energy transmission. I want to help people to understand all the “possible” choices they have today they didn’t have before, and stand ready to deploy them.

And really, anything is possible.


Check out the pic of Bob Dagostino sitting on the sidelines in the newly-built Heinz Field in 2001!

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