With the new Hesston Aquatic Center opening earlier this summer, resident Jim Schott saw an opportunity.
Schott, along with some friends and fellow engineers (with a combined 25-plus years of experience in the technology industry), had been keeping an eye on the market regarding timing technology for swimming pools — and saw a number of ways improvements could be made.
"A couple of my friends and engineers, we noticed that the timing technology currently in the marketplace is 20 to 30 years old, and there's wires strung all over the deck, really no controls and not a good communication system out to the officials and the people timing the meet or the spectators of the swim meet competition," Schott said. "We started to think about producing a brand new, innovative technology system based on wireless communication for all components and off the shelf devices like smart phones, PCs and that type of thing...to make a brand new system, starting with Hesston, but then very quickly we thought, 'hey, this might be something we could build a business on.'"
Thus, WAVE Technologies was born through the efforts of Schott (president of WAVE Technologies), his partner, an investor and a handful of contractors. With the goal always to produce its first timing system for the new Hesston pool, the company was officially incorporated in spring 2017.
Looking at the Hesston pool as a "sandbox," Schott noted there are some benefits to testing the waters locally (to continue to fine tune the product), though he was quick to also point out just how critical a role the community had in the company's formation.
"If it wasn't for Hesston and the Hesston pool, I don't think this business would've gotten off the ground," Schott said. "We love to give back to our community; that's the way Hesston is and we're glad to be a part of it."
Earlier this summer, WAVE Technologies installed its first system at the Hesston Aquatic Center. Schott noted that there are two main differences that set it apart from the company's closest competitors. First, it is a completely wireless system, whereas current systems are wired and therefore can have connection issues. Second, and more specifically, the touch pad is wireless with electronics like solid state sensors ("unprecedented" technology) built in — making the system smarter overall compared to the current, more mechanical models.
"As a result, it's a totally different experience for the operators. It lasts many more years than the touch pads today. It's just a better product," Schott said.
Right now, the company is working on both global and domestic distribution agreements — including a trips to this year's FINA Aquatics convention in China this December, while work is also being put in to build a a network of distributors in the Midwest who already work with the clientele WAVE Technologies is targeting with its product.
Not only will WAVE Technologies be selling its own timing system, but Schott said the timing components it produces will be compatible with other systems.
Schott did note the timing technology WAVE is employing could translate to track and field or racing competitions, but currently the company wants to focus its efforts on swimming and gain traction in that market (large enough in its own right) first.
Patents are currently pending on the company's technology and while Schott said he wants innovation to be a defining characteristic of WAVE Technologies, passion is equally important. He admitted has come to love swimming through his family's involvement in the Hesston swimming club and he hopes that enjoyment will be transferred on through the company's product, both for customers and employees.
"The main thing for us is to get to the point where we're selling product through our distributors and just making our customers happy," Schott said. "I want WAVE to be a company focused on people and principles. If you can focus on people and principles, and you have a good creative outlet for your work and something you enjoy, then I think that's the easiest way to be successful."