“All the Brains in One Room:” Emergency Tech Consulting Firm On Move to ‘Innovation Hub’

January 25, 2022
A county public safety tower in central Pennsylvania

This winter, as companies grapple with WFH and hybrid work schedules, MCM Consulting Group, Inc. is moving in the opposite direction. The public safety and government technology consulting firm has been largely remote since it was founded in the mid-2000s, with its expert team meeting virtually and onsite as team members helped local government and agencies establish emergency technology systems, facilities and protocols. Now the team is opening shop in Innovation Park, a move that it says will put them into the “hub of innovation in the middle of Pennsylvania.” It’s just the latest in a series of moves that have put this unconventional company at the top of its game. 

From Pittsburgh paramedic to consulting Iceland on emergency protocols

Michael McGrady

“I was a paramedic crew chief in the City of Pittsburgh,” company founder Michael McGrady says. “And one year at our Christmas party, my boss asked me to work in the 911 call center for six months. I ended up staying there for six years.”

When McGrady started working at the call center, the center had four nature codes, which they used to prioritize emergencies. By the time he left, he’d helped them create 28 more. He also helped establish processes for system status management. The call center worked to triage calls, give pre-arrival instructions and relocate ambulances based on severity of need, making for quicker response times. Pretty soon, more call centers asked him to help them make the same changes. 

“Iceland was sending paramedic students to the United States to study, and some of them ended up in the call center where I was working. Pretty soon, I was asked to go to Iceland and help them establish their 112-emergency response system,” he says. 

After 13 years as a professional paramedic, McGrady was recruited to be the deputy director, then director of a regional 911 center. After seven years and “doing so much consulting work,” he retired to start MCM Consulting Group, Inc., a company focused on multi-operational 911, broadband, telecommunications, emergency management, GIS, healthcare, public safety and training and exercises. 

McGrady quickly hired employees and allied with other public safety experts. Kristy Agosti was leading a regional counter-terrorism taskforce company at the same time, and the two decided to join forces, sharing employees and eventually joining the companies together, with McGrady as CEO and Agosti as president.

“Treating every emergency with dignity and respect”

Kristy Agosti

Along with their team of experts, McGrady and Agosti work with regional governments, counties, educational institutions, healthcare providers and companies on needs assessments and strategic plans for emergency situations and technology. Over the past two decades, they’ve coordinated large-scale technology projects between multiple counties, allowing them to share costs and maximize results and, most importantly, be prepared for any incident, whether small or large. 

They work with hospitals on continuity of operations and evacuation plans, maintaining continuity of care. They’ve also helped set up 911 call centers, advising on technology and how to recruit, support and retain the best staff. 

“It’s the practical things,” McGrady says. “Most people don’t leave call centers because of the pay. It’s the hours. So, we help them modify schedules to give them off more days between shifts … giving them more time with family, more life-work balance. It makes a big difference.”

“We provide everything they need”

McGrady says understanding what employees need is reflected in how he treats his own team. “We have a six-step salary pay scale, and employees can see exactly where they’ll end up in five years. We pay 100% of insurance and pension. We have profit-sharing, which is distributed based on annual evaluations. The only staff who have left our company since 2005 have retired.” 

“We are in the hub of innovation and within the Penn State footprint. We are just across the street from The Penn Stater, which we can use for hotel rooms for clients or staff and meals. We have access to a great daycare system for employees with young children. We’re close to everything — downtown, skiing, Pegula Ice Arena, Beaver Stadium, Spikes baseball, the Bryce Jordan Center, etcetera. There is a lot to offer for our team as well as our clients. I really like this area — it’s a really nice place to live and work.”

This retention track record is also reflected on the client side — the unique mix of emergency systems prowess mixed with practical, common-sense know-how is in high demand. “We have over a 99% client retention,” McGrady says. “We are working on seven to eight separate projects with some of our clients. We routinely go above and beyond, and everything is a fixed price. We provide everything they need.” 

Working smarter, not harder, with a move to Innovation Park 

Over the years, the company has operated across Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and the Republic of Iceland without a centralized office. The team would meet virtually to put together comprehensive plans for clients and meet in-person at job sites. It’s a collaboration that’s worked well, creating a flexible and connected team. Even so, as the team has grown, McGrady and Agosti saw the benefit of in-person collaboration. 

“In 2022, we are going to work smarter, not harder,” Agosti says. “And it benefits us to have all the brains in the same room.”

In late 2021, they started looking for a location to start an office. McGrady frequently mentors young professionals, and as he discussed this with them, voicing a desire to start an office “in the middle of their client base,” one of his mentees suggested starting an office in the literal center of the state — and in the center of innovation. 

“Happy Valley is the most centrally-located option in Pennsylvania,” McGrady says. “And we started looking in Innovation Park right away.” In a happy coincidence, another company had spent a tremendous amount of money meticulously outfitting an office in the park, only to pivot during the pandemic. 

“The space is phenomenal,” McGrady says, adding that he is in the process of building a new home in the State College area so he can be closer to all the amenities the area has to offer. “We are in the hub of innovation and within the Penn State footprint. We are just across the street from The Penn Stater, which we can use for hotel rooms for clients or staff and meals. We have access to a great daycare system for employees with young children. We’re close to everything — downtown, skiing, Pegula Ice Arena, Beaver Stadium, Spikes baseball, the Bryce Jordan Center, etcetera. There is a lot to offer for our team as well as our clients. I really like this area — it’s a really nice place to live and work.” 

Cara Aungst writes about industry, innovation, and how Happy Valley ideas change the world. She can be reached with story ideas and comments at Cara@AffinityConnection.com.

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