Sunday, July 22, 2018

Town provides technology the Raymond way by Lorraine Glowczak

Erik Woodbrey in front of his custom built computer
Providing the best services possible, done the right way and on a low budget, is the Raymond’s way of doing business. And that is exactly what is happening with the high quality technical amenities the town offers as a result of a forward-thinking, highly motivated and exceptionally skilled family.
Kevin Woodbrey of Raymond and his two sons, Kyle and Erik, have provided sophisticated technology services for the Town of Raymond for over 20 years. 

Although the family has established their own business, Woodbrey Consulting, and now contracts with the town as a supplier of all information technology services, they began their role as volunteers, providing extensive technical assistance on their own time, and often, at their own expenses.

“Thanks to the Woodbreys, the Town of Raymond provides high quality electronic services as well as industry standard levels of security and back office protocols,” said Don Willard, Town Manager. “Very few small towns are able to reach these standards. We would not be where we are now if it was not for the Woodbreys.”

This is all achieved using high quality equipment, operating under a cost-effective model, which has included utilizing private sector equipment that has been refurbished and updated. “The Woodbreys always make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck, whether it be by sourcing high quality used equipment or through private sector company donations” remarked Willard.

There are a number of projects Kevin and his sons have completed in the last couple of years that financially benefit the Town of Raymond. The latest, of many recent projects, is the updated web streaming and cable television station that operates out of the recently upgraded town studio. Thenew computer system was custom built and installed in the town’s studio by 23-year-old, Erik.

“The main thing about Erik’s upgrade is that we purchased off-the-shelf equipment to build this computer versus buying proprietary equipment which is much more expensive,” Kevin stated.
Erik quickly added, “The broadcast workstation upgrade was approximately $5,500. It could have easily cost over $30,000.”

Another successful and completed project is an updated network infrastructure that manages all the town computers. A majority of the software is open source and equipment for the project was purchased through vendors selling used or refurbished technology, in this case eBay, that offer a two-year parts warranty. “We can easily go back one generation [in computer equipment, servers, etc.] and still provide sophisticated and high-quality technology at a dramatic price advantage,” explained Kevin. large computer console and supporting server racks in which the networking infrastructure and broadcast workstation is housed, also in the studio, was a result of a MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) upgrade and other donated equipment. “I had a friend who worked at the Technology Department at MIT,” Kevin began. “He called me to let me know that they were purchasing a new computer console and asked if I wanted the current one for free. The only catch was delivering the huge piece of equipment back to Raymond.”

But never allowing a small challenge to get in the way, Kevin and his sons drove to MIT with a large truck and trailer and delivered it to Raymond by themselves. “To purchase a computer console of this size would cost approximately $20,000,” Kevin said. “But we got this one for free.”

The Woodbreys have also been busy building and putting in place a Virtual Private Network (VPN). “This allows all the town network devices, servers, workstations and cameras to communicate to each other on a secure and private system that offers sophisticated full network data encryption for security,” Kevin explained.

The Woodbreys talent, skill and innovation are a result of many years of collective experiences. Kevin graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1978 and was employed by companies within the U.S., returning to Maine after many years away. Upon his return, he worked in various information technology capacities in companies such as Unum and WEX.

The Woodbreys built the network infrastructure for a new airport in Branson, MO
He and his wife, Vicki, a systems analyst, decided to homeschool Erik. Upon making that decision, Kevin and Vicki took Erik and Kyle on a five-week, cross country road trip and it was during this transition that Kevin created his consulting firm.

Woodbrey Consulting not only provide their technology services for the Town of Raymond but also provide contractual services for other companies and organizations. This includes airlines such as JetBlue as well as for airports in general.

“When Erik was 14, we were hired to build, from scratch, the data center including servers, computer systems, firewalls and network infrastructure for a new airport in Branson, MO,” explained Kevin. “We were there for 2 ½ months working seven days per week, ten hours per day. Erik had so much energy with it all. When I was ready to call it a day, he wanted to do ‘just one more thing’ - but we did it and now the Branson Airport is up and running.”

Although the Woodbreys are humble about their accomplishments, their expertise in information technology and their talents to find the greatest product at the best cost has created a town of technology advances that are likely the envy of most.

“We are simply problem solvers,” Kevin said of himself and his family. But Willard clarified Kevin’s statement, “They are problem solvers who don’t accept failure as a possibility. We are very lucky to have them.”

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