Wichita-Based Technology Companies TEC Systems Group and Cornerstone Data
Renovate and Move Both Headquarters to Historic Building in Old Town
WICHITA, KS – President and CEO of TEC Systems Group, Eric Eakins, AIA announced today that the Wichita- based control systems integration company will move its headquarters from the South West Street industrial corridor to a historical building the company is renovating at 127 S. Washington. TEC will share the space with Cornerstone Data, a current Wichita downtown-based data solutions company owned and operated by Joy Eakins. Final touches on the renovation and the move will be completed by May 31. The renovation brings to life another dormant Old Town area building that has its origins in the early 1900s. The new location, a 14,000-sq.- ft. brick building, was used for storage the last five decades.
“My father was a visionary who anticipated the next great evolution in technology and the next great move forward for the company,” said Eric, whose father, Rolland Eakins, started the company in 1984 that would become TEC Systems Group. The elder Eakins served as TEC’s President and CEO until his passing in 2016. “He guided us through three other location moves, advancing TEC each time. I believe this fourth move will plant us in the heart of Wichita, a section of town bursting with enthusiasm and spirit. This building will serve as a great recruiting tool and gives us the room to expand our employee base by another 50%.”
TEC has increased its number of employees by 33% since 2017, when its CEO laid out an aggressive vision for TEC to become another Wichita legacy company. This vision includes expanding the diversity of its clientele, industries, technologies, and team. Cornerstone Data, founded by Joy Eakins in 2008, has collaborated closely with TEC over the years, advancing TEC’s own data reporting needs and the business intelligence needs of TEC’s clients. TEC and Cornerstone will remain separate companies and strategic partners.
“Moving Cornerstone into the building on Washington with TEC is advantageous for both companies,” said Joy. “While TEC is a significant partner, Cornerstone has its own diverse clientele and offers services in business intelligence, advanced analytics, data engineering, and data science.”
“Our employees were encouraged to share creative ideas and be involved in decision-making from the start and throughout the entire process,” said Jessica Turner, HR Director at TEC. “As the new headquarters approaches the completion date, there’s an obvious sense of excitement and positive energy. We want everyone to take pride and ownership in the future we’re building together and experience the long-term success and opportunity this move represents.”
Eric’s 25-year career as an architect was diverted with the passing of his father in 2016. The family decided that Eric was the natural leader to see Rolland’s vision through. “My mom, Georgia Eakins, was Dad’s partner in all things for more than 50 years. She has supported Joy and me in all our efforts, and we relied on her wisdom and encouragement to continue. My father and I were very close, he kept me up on the business, and while I have had to learn the particulars of our business services, the important thing was carrying on something that had such potential and had already had enormous success due to our faithful and skilled employees. My father was an inspiring entrepreneur and mentor. He encouraged Joy to start Cornerstone. I don’t know how many people are in business today because of his urging and encouragement. Before his passing, my father asked me to take care of his TEC family and to continue their good work.”
Rolland Eakins was a master electrician working at the Wichita Cargill Soybean plant when he began to experiment with automated controls. It was the dawning of electromechanical control, and Eakins, self-taught in the field, exploited its potential after a Cargill administrator encouraged him to start his own business. Today, TEC Systems Group custom designs, installs and maintains automation systems, operates a U.L. panel shop and manages data for small, mid-size and Fortune 500 companies in food and beverage, grain and chemical processing, mineral and mining processing, and discrete manufacturing.
“TEC has always been a company about entrepreneurship, as much or more than it has been about industrial technology. We hire entrepreneurs at every level in every function for their expansive vision. The mindset is essential to a company’s living legacy,” said Eric, who owns another business and manages a third.
“Dad and I often discussed the future of data, and he painted a compelling picture of the importance of expanding our capabilities in that arena. The vision that Rolland and I had in 2014 is realized with this shared strategic focus on business intelligence,” said Joy of the TEC/Cornerstone collaboration. “We would seem to be two very different businesses, but only in our origins. TEC is great at capturing data from the process and organizing it. Cornerstone Data helps businesses determine the data’s significance and use it to gain a competitive edge. Working together we will take businesses from data to decisions.”
The building at 127 N. Washington has its own storied history, having started as a much smaller structure that was the office for the Wichita Lumber Company, established in 1906. It has housed several businesses since, traces of which will remain as part of the interior décor.
“I want to see the history layered throughout the building, and add a modern, dynamic office environment floating below that our employees deserve to work in. We have opened natural light into the space on every side, combined existing expressed materials and structure already present with steel and glass and collaborative spaces. It will have an industrial tone inspired by the client sites we work at.” said Eric of the building concept he designed. “It’s every architect’s dream to design their own space, but the challenge is to someday call it “done,” because I’m forever circulating ideas through my head. I’ve missed the feedback from my former architectural colleagues, but ICON Structures has been a great contractor, not only in constructing this space but in filling the gap with quality input and ideas.”
The Eakins family loves Wichita and the support the community has offered. They are thrilled to continue Rolland’s legacy – just down the street from the company’s humble beginnings at a single plant – to a new corporate office serving their many clients from coast to coast.
ABOUT TEC SYSTEMS GROUP
Headquartered centrally in Wichita, Kansas, TEC Systems Group is a nationwide service company specializing in control systems integration with a branch office in Burnsville, MN and engineers permanently stationed around the United States. TEC has more than 37 years of experience in providing automation engineering and enterprise integration/operational intelligence solutions to small, mid-size and Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Koch Industries and Spirit Aerosystems. They are proud to say, “Our first customer is still our customer today.”
President and CEO Eric Eakins, AIA is a licensed architect in three states, a 1990 graduate from the School of Architecture at the University of Kansas and has worked 25 years as an architect, first with his own Colorado based architecture firm from 1996 to 2008 and most recently at Wichita based GLMV Architecture, from 2008 to 2016. He previously served as a Board Member of the City of Wichita Historic Preservation Committee and currently serves on the Wichita Public Library Foundation Board.
ABOUT CORNERSTONE DATA
Cornerstone was founded as Cornerstone Design & Development in 2008 by Joy Eakins, president and owner. By 2015, Cornerstone had won the Wichita Chamber Small Business of the Year award, at the time the smallest business ever to have received it. By 2018, the renamed Cornerstone Data, Inc. focused its services on emerging technologies for advanced analytics, data engineering, reporting, and visualizations. In 2019, Cornerstone teamed with local firm Keycentrix to launch Script MetRx, a Data-as-a-Service offering for specialty pharmacies that ingests data from the point-of-sale system and provides analysis and reporting for the enterprise. Local Cornerstone Data clients have included the Kansas Leadership Center and BKD.
President and owner Joy Eakins holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (BS, Mathematics), the University of Colorado Boulder (MS, Applied Mathematics), and the Golden Gate Theological Seminary (MTS, Theological Studies). She is currently the 1st Vice Chair of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce and serves on the boards of FlagshipKansas.Tech and Youth Horizons.
Eric and Joy are the proud parents of Aaron Eakins, a senior at Wichita East High School, who received an appointment to the Air Force Academy for the fall of 2021. Eric and Joy always credit Rolland and Georgia Eakins with their continued support in all our efforts. Eric said, “No description of our history is complete without saying, ‘Thanks, Mom and Dad! We love you!’”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Eric Eakins, President/CEO
TEC Systems Group
Joy Eakins, President
125 N Market, Suite 1735 Wichita, KS 67202
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