In January 1978, Progressive Electronics Inc. was opened by Craig Metzler. After spending six years in the United States Navy as an electronic technician aboard a nuclear submarine, Craig found work in Kansas City, MO with High Gain Electronic. When an economic downturn left HGE bankrupt, Craig struck out on his own. Craig began PEI by servicing school intercoms and sound systems all over Kansas City, MO, working out of Metzler’s home.
Within a year, PEI was able to move to a “humble” Raytown commercial space. PEI has been with the Kansas City Royals for over 30 years, since they were using “tube amplifiers instead of transistors,” Metzler recalls. They were “barely hanging on then,” he says, but over the years they came to “see the value in training” to invest in newer technology, maintenance and safety.
PEI moved to Grandview in 1987 and stayed there until March 2005. “We had great shop space there, but we didn’t want to bring customers into the construction environment,” says Metzler.
Christopher Metzler, son of Craig, started working for the company at the age of twelve, pulling out wire and helping his dad around the shop. “I remember we were putting up cameras for school districts, and a teacher came out and told him to take off his hat and get back to class,” his dad remembers. “We had to give him a toolbelt so they knew he worked with us.”
A major change came to the business in the mid-90s with Autocad, a computer-aided drawing program that helped the company generate professional drawings of their project proposals. Metzler says this change was big because “it helped a 10-15 employee company like us present ourselves like a Fortune 500 company.”
PEI kept growing, and in 2005 they were able to move to its current location in Raytown, MO. The site has two stories, with a warehouse downstairs and an office upstairs to host clients.
Christopher went on to get a business degree from Rockhurst University, and was promoted to Foreman in 2006. When Craig Metzler bought out his long-time partner, Kevin Little, in 2008, Christopher became Vice President. He applied his business training and began organizing a strong administrative side to the company.
PEI is proud that two employees, Elaine Coleman and Paul Leslie have been with the company over thirty years. Ten more have been with PEI for over twenty years. “We’ve had chances to sell over the years,” says Craig Metzler, “but we have such a committed staff.”
PEI is also proud to call Pembrooke Hill, Hallmark, Sprint, and Children’s Mercy Hospital long-time clients. When circuit boards changed over to computers, and as sound system equipment has become more advanced and compact, PEI remains on the cutting edge of technology.
Craig Metzler – PEI President