Customer Spotlight: ACES


Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) exists to improve public education through high quality, cost effective programs and services. ACES serves as the Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) for the 25 school districts in south central Connecticut. ACES, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in North Haven, Connecticut, oversees 8 schools and has over 950 employees.

In 2011, ACES approached Hilltop Technologies to oversee and implement their telecommunications solutions. Prior to implementation, each school within the ACES network operated independently of one another with no inter-office communication. Each individual location deployed differed platforms and hence needed a variety of technical resources for their service and maintenance. This caused inefficiencies within the organization as well as increased costs to manage the technology. Being such a large agency, ACES needed a phone system that could accommodate voicemails, transferring, and other business phone services that were lacking in their current set up.

At the time of Hilltop’s initial engagement of working with ACES’ telecommunications, ACES’ Technology Services division had been refreshed with almost an entirely new staff. “During the first few months of picking up the VOIP project, my team was contacting Hilltop almost weekly with problems and issues,” said Steven Manley, Director, Technology Services. “They understood that our department went through a very drastic change and worked with us closely to see to it that we understood the project, walked us through the remainder of installations, and helped to bring us up to speed with the new technologies.”

“The problems were difficult to diagnose and caused us to need quite a bit of hand-holding.  Many times Hilltop worked as a go-between for us and our providers and helped us to track down issues that needed resolve. Two of Hilltop’s Project Managers, Rob Johnston and George Piekarczyk, were especially helpful. They dedicated Deb Ritschard as a single response person for us. As a result, we were able to build a strong working relationship that resulted in our resolving issues quickly.”

By installing a ShoreTel VoIP platform, ACES was able to move to a more centralized trunking configuration. Now, incoming & outgoing calls originate at a single location and are programmatically routed to the necessary location. At the base of any ShoreTel system, is their Unified Communications platform, which allows each line to operate separate from the others in the case of an outage, while otherwise wholly incorporated into the entire network. ACES was able to achieve cost savings as well by eliminating and/or reducing local copper lines at each location, leaving just enough lines to support 911 and failover.

“Hilltop’s response time has been excellent and even exemplary in some instances. A good example of this is when the elevator phone lines at ACES Whitney High School East (WHE) were bad and the elevator inspector shut the systems down. We let Hilltop know that our ACES WHE student population is dependent on the elevators to move about the building. Hilltop sent a technician out that same day to resolve the issue and the elevators were back up and running in no time.”

Communications are running much smoother at ACES now, with a single solution covering their entire enterprise and being managed entirely from their Technical Support office.

Hilltop Technologies has served as ACES’ telecommunications partner since 2011. As a result of superior support and customer service, ACES is looking forward to a continued partnership with Hilltop Technologies that not only supports their business needs today, but will empower them for tomorrow. Given the advancement and ever-changing technology, having such a partner like Hilltop to rely on is imperative to continued communication efficiency.

For more information on ShoreTel VoIP and Hilltop Technologies’ telecommunications solutions, visit