Advanced Technical Solutions

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Sometimes good things come in small packages. Take Advanced Technical Solutions (ATS), for example, VARBusiness' 2005 VAR of the Year for the category of Homegrown Technical Innovation. The Scott Depot, W.V.-based company, one of the smallest in the competition, stood out with an innovative remote-banking solution it created for a local financial institution, Peoples Federal Credit Union. Essentially, ATS created a custom bank on wheels for the tiny credit union--a first in West Virginia.

To ATS' knowledge, the system is one of the first "live" mobile banking installations that integrates all the various technology requirements of a bank.

The solution attracted the attention of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, who recently attended the opening of the fast-growing company's new corporate headquarters in Scott Depot.

VARBusiness was drawn to the solution because it embodies the perfect amalgam of technical know-how and real-world customer benefit. In this case, ATS helped to transform a recreational vehicle into a full-service, remote bank branch office that is connected to the institution's main operations in a fully secured, real-time environment. The mobile bank on wheels can handle everything a permanent facility can, including loan application and approval, says Gary Sims Sr., the company's newly appointed administrative and financial chief.

Using mobile IP communications across a satellite network, ATS created the mobile bank using Cisco Systems' technology, including Cisco's Integrated Services Router with Call Manager Express and Unity Express. It also deployed a Cisco PIX 500 security appliance and an early release of the Catalyst Express 500 switch.

Thanks to the solution, Peoples Federal Credit Union can reach out to underserved communities in West Virginia. But it wasn't easy. After the bank had tried to build the mobile-branch solution itself with the help of several service firms, ATS stepped in as a general contractor.

"In the end, everything boiled down to quality of service," says Brian Sims, the credit union's operations specialist. Gary Sr. joined the company this summer, seven years after his two sons, Gary Jr. and Brian, founded it.

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