“He (Sipe) was a genius IOS guy, way ahead of his time at understanding smartphone applications,” said Adkisson. “Together we built the first hospitality-based smartphone application of this type.”
The ORION system successfully debuted in 2009 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville, South Carolina. After that, the company decided to incorporate back-of-house services, such as maintenance requests and housekeeping.
The beauty of Ascension’s ORION system, according to Adkisson, is that it fully integrates with existing API (Application Programming Interface) systems currently used in most large hotels. And because it works remotely online, or “in the cloud,” no special hardware or wiring is needed for set-up.
ORION has an economical and green component to it as well. For example, large hotels can pay around $1,000 in printing costs each time a service change is made. With ORION, if a menu item or other offering changes, it can be done in real time and viewed instantly on a guest’s mobile device or TV.
Thanks to projected growth, Ascension moved its offices to a larger space last June, at 1406 SE 164th Ave. The company estimates its staff will grow from 28 to 35 employees within the next year.
Employee retention is quite important to Adkisson. For that reason, he said, he strives to maintain a fun corporate culture; a place where employees enjoy coming to work. Among the perks, Ascension employees have a foosball table, large cafeteria and occasional group outings.
“It’s fun to create that kind of a culture,” he said.
In the coming weeks, the company plans to launch a new product, GK8 with Sheraton hotels. GK8 manages the security on shared computers, ensuring each individual session is completely secure to the person who uses it.
“An open computer would retain all that guest information,” explained Ken York, Ascension’s chief operating officer. “If you don’t accurately shred your documents they can be recovered; if you’re going into your bank account you can set cookies or accidentally save your passwords; there are all sorts of really nasty things that can happen.”
Later this year, Ascension hopes to bring GK8 to the international market. To help them in their efforts, the company is looking to partner with Microsoft, Dell and HP to expand their reach.
In addition to partnering with fellow technology companies, Ascension has successfully utilized a number of different public resources, thanks to the help of the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council.
“They’ve helped us with training and some new hiring incentives, allowing us bring on people faster by getting money that’s already available out there in grants,” said York. “Those have been two wins that we’ve really enjoyed. They’ve also introduced us to more people in the community that we may have synergy with, so we’re doing business with people in the local community that we didn’t necessarily even know about.”
Currently, Ascension is the exclusive partner or preferred technology partner with luxury hotel chains including Omni, Starwood, Kimpton, Morgans and Red Lion.