Keith Lawrence - Founder of Integrated Technology Ltd
About Keith Lawrence
Keith Lawrence has always had an interest for all things electronic & what makes these items work.
Early in the 1990's, Keith identified a gap in the market for the sound & motor control modules used in Children's Rides often found outside supermarkets & funfairs. These modules at the time were very basic with analogue synthesized sound tracks. By the end of 1990 Integrated Technology was formed. Shortly following this, Keith and some of his University contacts developed the first solid-state sampled-sound player for Children's rides. This product enabled manufacturers to develop a new range of popular rides which also play the theme tune and character catch phrases based on Licensed characters such as the Magic Roundabout, Postman Pat and a range of Warner Bros. characters to name a few! This unit was multi-functional; also controlling the ride motor, run time, coin acceptor, start & sound buttons and flashing lights.
An interview with Keith Lawrence
Mr Lawrence is the managing director of Integrated Technology, a company which makes a vital piece of equipment to drive children's amusement rides.
I suppose the nicest thing about our work is seeing how much pleasure the children get from the end product Keith Lawrence reflected as he sat in his Whitehill office, the small box is the brain and nerve centre of the machine. It counts the coins, flashes lights and provides the sounds that are destined to give any toddler facing the family shopping trip a thrilling ride. Mr Lawrence is enjoying the success and challenge of his own business which is based at the Tindle Enterprise Centre on the Petersfield Road.
He is regularly in contact with some of the most influential people in film and television and is dedicated to the product he produced and marketed.
It is not, however, just youngsters who are benefiting from his brain-child. The same box is also being used to provide authentic crowd noise sound for soccer fans at London's football themed restaurant as well as re-creating the ancient Scandinavia soundscape Viking Land in Norway.
Running his own business has always been an ambition for Mr Lawrence ever since his BTEC Higher National Diploma in Electronic and Electrical Engineering Studies at university.
But it was later, during his seven years working for a Danish industrial electronics firm, when he discovered a niche in the child amusement market which might accommodate his now proven product.
Having made the decision to commit to his idea, he received his company's blessing to develop his idea and continue to work for them on a part-time basis. They even provided some office and workshop space to help the business grow, but within six months Integrated Technology was expanding and Mr Lawrence was having to devote more time to it. I was prepared to put in the hard work, he said. I realised that I would have to put in all the hours available to build it up.
Having decided to start out on his own, Mr Lawrence and Integrated Technology began the marketing of the product. The technology they were using in the child amusement ride industry at that time was fairly old which gave us the change to look at the market and new technology. Our box provided sampled sound and not just synthesised effects, He explained.
"We were also the first people in the industry to give the youngsters interactive control"
Mr Lawrence and his staff sample and mix all the sounds themselves from their purchased compact discs or CDs supplied by their customers, Many of the companies with whom Integrated Technology deal have licensing agreements with prestigious organisations.
Among them are the entertainment giants Warner Bros and the Children's Television Workshop which is the company behind "Sesame Street. In particular the CTW take a great interest in their customers and come down frequently for meetings, Mrs Lawrence said. It's great that everybody takes so much pleasure in making sure everything is absolutely right.
Mr Lawrence has himself just returned from New Orleans in the United States where he was visiting the massive Amusement Industry Exhibition. It was a great event and the champagne was flowing, he recalled, adding that representatives of companies including Sega had been among the attenders. Asked about the future of Integrated Technology however, he is philosophical.
The company is already looking to branch out into other areas using the child ride as its main focus. Other projects are on the agenda for the coming year although some unusual diversions from their market have already been made.The business recently helped out a farmer who was running visits for youngsters to his farm. But the animals did not often make the noises the children wanted to hear.
He asked us if we could do anything to simulate the sounds, Mr Lawrence said. So we set up a couple of sensors and when they are triggered people can hear the animal noises which sometimes prompts the real creatures to respond. Other areas in which the company has worked have included a project for the recently opened Legoland near Windsor. Setting up my own business has been tough but I really didn't think it would be as hard as it has been," Mr Lawrence said.
It certainly isn't just a nine to five job!"