Gamber-Johnson mount turns squads into offices

Gamber-Johnson opened in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1954 making wooden furniture. Now, the company distributes globally mounts that lock a computer in place inside a vehicle.

STEVENS POINT, Wis. —  A Stevens Point company that once manufactured wooden furniture now creates a product that turns emergency vehicles into mobile offices. 

Gamber-Johnson, founded in 1954, creates an array of mounts that allow police officers, firefighters and paramedics, as well as other professionals, to take work on the road. The docking stations hold a computer in place to keep the technology safe while on the move.

Gautam Malik, chief operating officer, stands next to the 2015 Governor's Export Achievement Award.
Gautam Malik, chief operating officer, stands next to the 2015 Governor's Export Achievement Award. (Photo/USA Today)

The local company's story demonstrates how changes in technology can drive evolution even in industries that are not especially high-tech, and it highlights a larger trend in Wisconsin's job market. It's not just in Silicon Valley where a majority of jobs rely on some type of technological knowledge.

Gamber-Johnson, for example, shaped its business around customer demand and changes in the computer industry. The company today designs, assembles and distributes vehicle mounting equipment for digital devices, but started out manufacturing wooden stereo consoles.

"I'm glad we're not doing that (anymore) because, if we were, we'd be out of business by now," said Gautam Malik, chief operating officer.

The company is focused on innovation and change, Malik said. A customer's request for a device to mount a communication radio sparked a shift in Gamber-Johnson's product line in the 1970s. A customer then asked for the ability to charge a radio while driving, because the batteries would drain.

"That is the genesis of the first docking station," Malik said. "You could take a radio, and you would put it in a device holder that we had. It would lock it in position, and then not only would it charge using the bottom, using pogo pins, it would keep it secure."

Customers then asked Gamber-Johnson find a way to improve the strength of the radio's signal while it sat inside a vehicle. From there, the company expanded into mounting computers. Malik said Gamber-Johnson serves two main markets: public safety agencies and companies that operate a fleet of vehicles, such as companies that send employees out on service calls.

Gamber Johnson's products are used in vehicles locally and around the world, Malik said. The Plover Police Department, for example, installed Gamber-Johnson computer mounts inside its squad cars. The docking station replaces a squad's center console.

The device turns the squad car into an office and minimizes officers' need to return to the station during a shift, which keeps them on patrol,  Police Chief Dan Ault said.

A Gamber-Johnson computer mount sits inside a police squad car. (Photo/USA Today)

Malik said the products are highly engineered and extensively tested to ensure public safety officials can operate as needed in an emergency. Gamber-Johnson plans to add new positions this year as it adds new product lines. The firm is expanding into new markets around the world, Malik said, as countries embrace new uses of computer technology.

The growth is driven by computer manufacturers, Malik said. When the manufacturer creates a new piece of technology, Gamber-Johnson creates a new mount to fit it. The companies work together to ensure the technology will fit in the docking station and that the mount is designed and tested to meet the requirements specific to the country where it will be used.

"We are basically tied to the hip when it comes to product development," he said.

About Gamber-Johnson
Gamber-Johnson is the award-winning ISO 9000 certified manufacturer of easy to install rugged vehicle mounting solutions for laptops, tablets, and other devices. Their product line includes the TabCruzer tablet docks and cradles, vehicle-specific consoles for a truly mobile office, universal docking stations, the Mongoose motion attachment system, and a complete line of mounting equipment for material handling applications. Gamber-Johnson products can be found in material handling vehicles, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, utility trucks, military vehicles, and personal vehicles across the globe.

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