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Kimball Hill Homes has been building award-winning single-family homes, high-rise condominiums, lifestyle townhomes, and remarkable communities since 1969, continuing a family tradition established in 1939. Today it is one of the leading home building companies in the United States, with more than 900 staff operating in nine states and fourteen major markets. With quality construction and award-winning designs, Kimball Hill Homes is dedicated to creating new, affordable homes and neighborhoods across America.
As part of the company’s dedication to providing the best possible customer service, Kimball Hill Homes actively seeks new ways to use technology to improve the productivity of its associates and provide a better experience for their customers. Recently, they adopted a wireless solution from Sprint in a move to increase connectivity, accessibility and productivity for its sales and construction teams.
For the construction and sales teams that were beginning to build brand-new communities on undeveloped land, staying connected with suppliers, prospective clients and divisional offices was essential, yet challenging.
With only a trailer set up as an on-site office, getting phone and T1 service lines activated could take anywhere from six weeks to six months. Since many of the applications Kimball Hill Homes uses in the development and sales of its homes are network based, the inability to stay connected inhibited teams from being productive and increased the time needed to deliver homes to customers. Until telephone and Internet access were up and running, construction and sales staff were left virtually disconnected from divisional offices.
“Sales people had to drive in and hand-deliver contracts to their divisional offices. This method was highly inefficient, especially when a salesperson needed to make multiple trips in one day to an office that was more than an hour away,” said Sara Obeidat, IT Field Support Specialist for Kimball Hill Homes. “What Kimball Hill Homes needed was connectivity in areas where there were no other connectivity options available.”
Kimball Hill Homes had been looking for a solution for some time, as it required a product that was faster than a dial-up connection to support its office applications. After examining several units, Kimball Hill Homes selected the Sprint PCS Connection CardTM by Sierra WirelessTM, based on speed, quality and range of service.
Kimball Hill Homes worked with engineers from Sprint and J4 Communications to develop a desktop solution using a PCMCIA adapter that allowed the Sprint PCS Connection Card, typically used in laptop computers with PCMCIA slots, to be used on desktop computers.
This customization was key for Kimball Hill Homes’ designated equipment costs and requirements, as well as providing the ability to move the salesperson, computer and Connection Card easily and securely from one community to the other.
“This also enabled us to expand the use of the wireless connections to the construction and customer service side of the company,” said Obeidat. “The Connection Cards have allowed construction personnel to improve turnaround time by ordering materials online, while the customer service agents can visit with one homeowner to the next and be connected to the web-based program at head office.”
To date Kimball Hill Homes has deployed over 110 Sprint PCS Connection Cards through its offices across the United States. In particular, their employees, and ultimately their customers, are benefiting from increased speed and service to high-growth areas throughout Chicago, Las Vegas and California’s Central Valley.
“The Mobile Broadband wireless network cards allowed us to set a trailer out in the middle of a piece of land and get up and running,” said Frank Scaramuzza, CIO for Kimball Hill Homes. “We now have remote areas connected in less than a month, which has allowed us to boost our productivity by getting active at a site sooner.”