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REI Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary In Upper Cumberland

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
REI Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary In Upper Cumberland

Putnam County’s REI celebrated 40 years of service with an open house Thursday afternoon.

Research Electronics International started in 1983 to produce equipment that detects electronic security threats. President Tom Jones said the company’s products are used by law enforcement, government agencies and security firms worldwide.

“When I first bought into this business in 1995 in the United States, there were really three companies that do what we do, and it’s a small niche market,” Jones said. “Both of those companies no longer exist. And so, we have passed them and survived. And at that time, we didn’t do anything internationally. So, at this time, 65 percent of our business is international.”

Jones said the company’s equipment spans some 120 countries. He said the technology involved, the demand for the product and the customers’ success with REI equipment will lead to more growth going forward.

“Organizations purchase our equipment to do what’s typically called a sweep,” Jones said. “And this would be to go in a conference room or an office and scan the room to make sure there are no microphones, no cameras, no listening devices to guarantee and ensure that no one is spying on that space in an inappropriate way.”

The company started in 1983 when Bruce Barsumian came to the region. Barsumian’s stepfather was a Monterey businessman and sold his stepson on the region. Jones became a partner in 1995.

“Bruce and I became partners and we had a 28-year partnership,” Jones said. “I couldn’t think of a better man and a more honorable person to be partners with. I know partnerships, they don’t always work well, but ours did. And it was an interesting partnership because we were exactly 50 50, so we had to get along and we learned to do that.”

Jones said it’s hard to believe the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary. He said being located in the Upper Cumberland continues to bless the company as it grows.

“Many times, it’s hard to find the technical talent that we need to do what we need to do,” Jones said. “But I can tell you, as far as the work ethic, the quality of life, the peace of living in a great place like Cookeville is completely worth it. And I am much happier to be here than in any other place in the US.”


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