Q&A with Amy Barzdukas, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Poly

MEDIA 7 | November 21, 2019

Amy Barzdukas, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Poly is a marketing and communications leader with extensive experience in setting strategy, shifting perceptions, advising customers, digital marketing, revenue marketing, integrated marketing communications, and public relations in highly competitive product arenas.

Amy is known for her ability to create and execute winning turnarounds on a global scale.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing?
AMY BARZDUKAS:
I was always destined for marketing, even if I didn’t know it. As a child, I collected promotional brochures. I was fascinated by how the words and pictures were used to drive action. My first job was as an advertising copywriter, and I’ve never looked back.

M7: How is Poly redefining the video conferencing experience for modern businesses?
AB:
 We’re in an unprecedented time of change in our industry. Voice and video services are moving to the cloud, and companies are changing how they approach their communications needs. Poly is the largest provider of the devices – video conferencing, audio conferencing, headphones and desk phones – you use to connect to these services so you can collaborate with your colleagues. That uniquely positions us to shape the video conferencing experience, and we’re doing so in four ways.

First, Poly has made both the Zoom Rooms and the Microsoft Teams video conferencing experience better than ever with our radically simple Poly Studio X video bars that deliver these experiences with no PC or Mac required. We’ve got decades of experience in understanding what makes meetings more human – for everyone in the room and those dialing in from other locations – and we’ve packed all of that into easy-to-install, easy-to-manage, and easy-to-use all-in-one powerhouses.

Second, we are bringing the world of AV and video conferencing into the modern app economy. Our Studio X series and Poly G7500 video conferencing devices run a common platform that can be updated and enhanced through a series of regular software updates. This Poly platform, built on Android, can run applications like a smartphone does today.

Third, Poly has introduced innovation that makes any video conference better. Our new Poly MeetingAI features use AI and machine learning to address the distractions that hit your senses in a meeting. We make it easier to hear what’s being said by blocking out the annoying noises that people make while talking, and we make it easier to see what’s going on in the room with the most advanced speaker tracking and framing, and our built-in production rules.

Finally, we are pricing our solutions in a way that completely resets the calculations on what it costs to outfit a room. The Studio X30, for huddle room and smaller spaces, costs just about $2,100, including the Poly TC8 touch controller. All you add is the cloud service and a monitor, and you have a room up and running for under $2,500. That’s easily under the cost of other solutions and with better audio and video quality.


"Baby Boomers and more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise."

M7: As the CMO of Poly, what were the major challenges in rebranding and transforming two separate organizations (Plantronics and Polycom) under a single brand Poly?
AB:
One of the greatest challenges of bringing together Plantronics and Polycom was doing so in a way that honored their brand equity, history, and positive associations while establishing a new story for the new company. Plantronics was already an audio pioneer– the first headset that transmitted Neil Armstrong’s famous words during the first moon landing. Polycom was the leader in audio and video conferencing – the conference phone used by business leaders and industry captains.
We had to figure out how to build a stand-out narrative in a crowded space for the general market. For customers and partners, we found a way to carry through the legacies and histories of both companies into the new brand. And for our employees, we had to inspire them to believe in the new brand and the new combined mission. These different challenges with different stakeholders took different approaches to confront, but in the end, we brought everyone to the same conclusion that Poly was moving forward, unified and stronger.

And like any acquisition, integration takes time. We’re proud of our accomplishments since rebranding to Poly in March 2019. Since then, we’ve refreshed our video conferencing line of products, broken new ground with a mobile phone station called Elara 60 Series and showcased our continued commitment to expanding the ecosystem with partners such as Zoom, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and more. As Poly, we bring a new level of quality, simplicity, and flexibility so that every communication can easily become a place for collaboration and innovation for the enterprise.


"Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace."

M7: A recent study by Poly reveals that employees prefer noisier open offices to closed, quiet spaces. What do you think is responsible for driving these unique demands in the workplace today?
AB:
Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials tend to prefer open offices compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers and that more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise. What we’re seeing is that Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace. For example, they’re used to wearing noise-canceling headphones to block out the background noise, and similarly at home with video. They’ve been doing it all their lives!

Now that we can work from anywhere – coffee shops, airports, waiting rooms – we are more accustomed to dealing with distractions and working through them. We take that mindset into the office along with the tools we may use to address distraction, from a pair of comfortable headphones with ANC to deciding to do different types of work in different settings.

M7: What features have made Poly Studio win the 'Best of Enterprise Connect' award in the '2019 Communication/Collaboration Device'?
AB: 
Poly Studio is our answer to the need for easy-to-use video conferencing devices for smaller spaces called huddle rooms. Poly Studio is a video USB bar with premium audio and video capabilities. Its standout features include NoiseBlock, which mutes distracting background noises, Automatic Group Framing and Speaker Tracking, which zooms in to focus on the speaking participant. This board-room like audio and video transforms small meeting rooms into a center for collaboration. We’re also pleased that it was recently certified for Zoom Rooms and Microsoft Teams. The device also works with Skype for Business, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx and Amazon Chime, and virtually any cloud-based video collaboration service.


"Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging."

M7: What traits make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace?
AB:
Our in-depth expertise, tireless innovation, and emphasis on partnership make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging. When the world was on a race to space in the ’60s, NASA approached us—Plantronics back then—with a seemingly impossible task: create a headset that would equip astronauts to communicate with Mission Control from the earth to the moon, and back again.

Fifty years later, we share the same mission today: to create powerful connections that unify people the world over. We’re designing technology for the different ways people work – open offices, remote locations, mobile-first workers. We are the largest provider of headsets, video and audio-conferencing devices that you use to communicate and collaborate for your work, whatever that may be. And we continue to innovate with products like Poly Studio X that change how people collaborate.
Through partnerships with industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Zoom, Poly takes an open-architecture approach that allows users to seamlessly connect across all the best technologies. Whenever and wherever people connect with these services, we will be there to provide the best-in-class audio, video and voice technology to make the experience that much better.

M7: What’s your superpower or spirit animal?
AB: 
My superpower is the ability to read amazingly quickly, thanks to the experimental elementary school I attended. I don’t know how anyone gets through their workload without it, honestly. My spirit animal? I told my husband the other day that I think it is Tom Petty. I’m a huge fan. If you have a problem, there is a Tom Petty song that can solve it, or at least make it more fun.

ABOUT POLY

Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance that make communication in and out of the workplace challenging. Poly believes in solutions that make life easier when they work together and with our partner’s services. Our headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are used worldwide and are a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

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The next stage: APRU-Google-UN ESCAP AI for Social Good Project now working directly with government agencies

APRU | November 29, 2022

The AI for Social Good Project – Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific has recently passed the milestone of onboarding two key government agencies. The project is the latest collaboration between the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), UN ESCAP, and Google.org, which commenced in mid-2021 and will run until the end of 2023. Over the past year, meetings and workshops have been held with government agencies from Thailand and Bangladesh. The confirmed government partners to join the project are the Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) of Thailand, in close collaboration with the National Electronics and Computer Center (NECTEC) and the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) under the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, and the Bangladesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme. NXPO and a2i are affiliated with Thailand’s Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and the ICT Division and Cabinet Division of Bangladesh, respectively. The AI for Social Good multi-stakeholder network was initially set up in 2019, among the first milestones being the creation of a platform that convenes leading experts from the region to explore opportunities and challenges for maximizing AI benefits for society. After these activities engaged a wide range of policy experts and practitioners, the three project partners decided that it was the right time to move on to the next stage of working directly with government agencies to apply the insights generated through the collaborative project to date. The aim has been to work with government partners in Asia and the Pacific to grow sound and transparent AI ecosystems that support sustainable development goals. “Recognizing that AI offers transformative solutions for achieving the SDGs, we are pleased to participate in the AI for Social Good Project to share experience and research insights to develop enabling AI policy frameworks.” -Dr. Kanchana Wanichkorn, NXPO’s Vice President. NXPO identified ‘Poverty Alleviation’ and ‘Medicine and Healthcare’ as two areas of need that are now tackled by two academic project teams. To alleviate poverty and inequality, the Thai government has developed data-driven decision-making systems to improve public access to state welfare programs. The project, under the academic leadership of the Australia National University (ANU) team, will focus on enhancing the human-centered design and public accessibility of these technologies to support successful implementation. In addition, research on AI for medical applications has increased exponentially in the past few years in Thailand. However, the progress in developing and applying AI from research to market in these areas is relatively slow. To support and accelerate the use of AI in medicine and healthcare, the expert team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will focus their research and analysis on identifying crucial bottlenecks and gaps that impede the beneficial use of AI. While the two Bangladesh projects both focus on the need for ‘Continuing and Personalized Pregnancy Monitoring’ (to improve health outcomes during and after birth), they are exploring different aspects of this key focus area for the government of Bangladesh. Under the leadership of the team from NUS & KAIST, the first project investigates challenges in perceptions and reception of incorporating AI into continuous pregnancy monitoring systems. Under the leadership of the University of Hawai‘i Team, the second project circles in on technological issues of Bangladesh’s healthcare sector and their impacts on AI-based data analysis and decision-making processes. The academic integrity of both sets of country projects is overseen by Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. Erskine guides both the conception of the research questions in collaboration with the government partners and the delivery of the project outputs by providing support for the four academic teams in developing their projects. “It has been incredibly rewarding to lead a project that brings together such an impressive, multidisciplinary group of researchers with government agencies that are so passionate about finding solutions to crucial problems – ranging from poverty alleviation to maternal health care, the process of working closely with government agencies from the outset to discuss these problems and co-design research questions makes this project unique and genuinely collaborative. I’m very proud to be part of it.” -Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. The following steps for the ‘AI for Social Good Project: Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ project will be to review and discuss the first complete drafts of the research papers by the four academic teams at a workshop in January. The partner government agencies from Bangladesh and Thailand will attend the workshop. Workshops with both government teams will also follow the presentation of final papers in the second quarter of 2023. To mark the project's conclusion, a summit with all participants in the project will be held in mid-2023 at the Australia National University.

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Sapia.ai now a supplier to the UK government G-Cloud 13 Framework

Sapia.ai | December 02, 2022

Sapia.ai, creator of the world's first smart interviewer, are proud to announce that they have been accepted onto the UK government's Crown Commercial Service (CCS) procurement framework G-Cloud 13.Organisations can now find and purchase Sapia.ai's tools, including its AI-empowered smart chat which has shown to help companies deliver on their Diversity KPI's when hiring, from the government's digital marketplace. The G-cloud framework launched in 2012, with the aim of easing the procurement process for the UK government and other public sector bodies. Sapia.ai has joined over 5000 suppliers to offer its solutions within the framework. Public sector organisations are now able to access, review, and purchase Sapia.ai's automated and bias-free hiring solution easily through the marketplace, knowing that it has been vetted by the G-cloud framework. Sapia.ai is truly unique in that it allows candidates to apply for a job through a simple text chat - negating the need for CVs which have been shown to be full of bias - even when anonymised. Instead, using Sapia.ai's AI-driven technology and its bias-free database of interview responses, Sapia.ai can create an accurate and independent profile of a candidate matching their skills with their ability to do the job within seconds. Every candidate also receives personalized feedback that they can use to improve in areas for future job searches, as well as helping them understand where their strengths lie. "We are delighted to have been included in the G-Cloud 13 framework. When our technology can simultaneously lead to customers seeing accelerated diversity after just 3 months of use, as in the case of our customer Woodies, you know you have built game changing technology,We cannot wait for it to do the same in the public sector that we have for so many companies. " -Barb Hyman,CEO Sapia.ai. By using Sapia.ai public sector customers can now deliver: An interview for every candidate that applies without any need for CVs. A fast and human-focussed automated hiring system that fits into current HR processes. A time-efficient shortlisting process, while every candidate receives personalized feedback. More diverse hires with highly accurate job matching. An immediate impact on D&I KPIs. Huge cost and time savings on recruitment. About Sapia: Sapia's mission is to help companies unlock and engage talent at scale. With its blind, automated chat interview and comprehensive DEI analytics platform, Sapia's technology is the first solution of its kind to disrupt biases that affects traditional recruitment processes – resulting in fair outcomes for candidates and companies.

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Unimed Government Services Awarded Multi-Year Department of Defense Contract Valued up to $48M

United States Department of Defense | December 01, 2022

Unimed Government Services (UGS), a leading provider of supply chain solutions for government, schools, public health organizations, and the private sector, announced today that it has received a five-year Department of Defense (DOD) contract to provide medical and dental equipment and accessories in support of the DOD's mission to protect the security of the United States. The contract is a $48,000,000 maximum, fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity agreement for medical and dental equipment and accessories for the Defense Logistics Agency electronic catalog. The location of performance is Minnesota with a contract completion date of November 15, 2027. "Unimed Government Services has been supplying the federal government with the leading dental and medical equipment, product expertise, and customized solutions for over a decade, We strive to apply our high standards of service excellence coupled with the leading manufacturers' technologies to support the Tri-Service dental and medical clinics throughout the U.S. and the world, as well as our Veterans Administration Medical Centers and Indian Health Facilities. We are proud to provide the best equipment and solutions available to support our servicemen, women and our veterans." -Judith Manchester, chief executive officer for UGS. About UGS: Unimed Government Services has helped more than 20,000 clinics deliver healthcare excellence since its creation in 2010. As a distributor of the world's leading equipment and technologies in dental, medical and infection control, UGS supplies government, municipalities, schools, public health organizations and the private sector with the highest-quality products and equipment to care for their members. UGS represents leading manufacturers, providing dental and medical equipment, from imaging equipment and software to dental core products, clinic cabinetry and laboratory case work, as well as surface disinfection technologies for infection control. With deep expertise in clinic and laboratory design, UGS also creates custom, end-to-end solutions. UGS belongs to and sponsors several professional societies dedicated to safe, quality care delivery, including the American Dental Association (ADA) where UGS members serve on the Board of Dental Standards, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) where UGS is a Super Sponsor, the American Dental Educators Association (ADEA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Woman in Defense (WID). Based in Concord, Mass., Lakeville, MN., and Mt. Pleasant, TX, UGS is a certified woman-owned small business (WOSB) and member of the Woman Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

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The next stage: APRU-Google-UN ESCAP AI for Social Good Project now working directly with government agencies

APRU | November 29, 2022

The AI for Social Good Project – Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific has recently passed the milestone of onboarding two key government agencies. The project is the latest collaboration between the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), UN ESCAP, and Google.org, which commenced in mid-2021 and will run until the end of 2023. Over the past year, meetings and workshops have been held with government agencies from Thailand and Bangladesh. The confirmed government partners to join the project are the Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) of Thailand, in close collaboration with the National Electronics and Computer Center (NECTEC) and the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) under the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, and the Bangladesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme. NXPO and a2i are affiliated with Thailand’s Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and the ICT Division and Cabinet Division of Bangladesh, respectively. The AI for Social Good multi-stakeholder network was initially set up in 2019, among the first milestones being the creation of a platform that convenes leading experts from the region to explore opportunities and challenges for maximizing AI benefits for society. After these activities engaged a wide range of policy experts and practitioners, the three project partners decided that it was the right time to move on to the next stage of working directly with government agencies to apply the insights generated through the collaborative project to date. The aim has been to work with government partners in Asia and the Pacific to grow sound and transparent AI ecosystems that support sustainable development goals. “Recognizing that AI offers transformative solutions for achieving the SDGs, we are pleased to participate in the AI for Social Good Project to share experience and research insights to develop enabling AI policy frameworks.” -Dr. Kanchana Wanichkorn, NXPO’s Vice President. NXPO identified ‘Poverty Alleviation’ and ‘Medicine and Healthcare’ as two areas of need that are now tackled by two academic project teams. To alleviate poverty and inequality, the Thai government has developed data-driven decision-making systems to improve public access to state welfare programs. The project, under the academic leadership of the Australia National University (ANU) team, will focus on enhancing the human-centered design and public accessibility of these technologies to support successful implementation. In addition, research on AI for medical applications has increased exponentially in the past few years in Thailand. However, the progress in developing and applying AI from research to market in these areas is relatively slow. To support and accelerate the use of AI in medicine and healthcare, the expert team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will focus their research and analysis on identifying crucial bottlenecks and gaps that impede the beneficial use of AI. While the two Bangladesh projects both focus on the need for ‘Continuing and Personalized Pregnancy Monitoring’ (to improve health outcomes during and after birth), they are exploring different aspects of this key focus area for the government of Bangladesh. Under the leadership of the team from NUS & KAIST, the first project investigates challenges in perceptions and reception of incorporating AI into continuous pregnancy monitoring systems. Under the leadership of the University of Hawai‘i Team, the second project circles in on technological issues of Bangladesh’s healthcare sector and their impacts on AI-based data analysis and decision-making processes. The academic integrity of both sets of country projects is overseen by Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. Erskine guides both the conception of the research questions in collaboration with the government partners and the delivery of the project outputs by providing support for the four academic teams in developing their projects. “It has been incredibly rewarding to lead a project that brings together such an impressive, multidisciplinary group of researchers with government agencies that are so passionate about finding solutions to crucial problems – ranging from poverty alleviation to maternal health care, the process of working closely with government agencies from the outset to discuss these problems and co-design research questions makes this project unique and genuinely collaborative. I’m very proud to be part of it.” -Toni Erskine, Professor of International Politics and Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU. The following steps for the ‘AI for Social Good Project: Strengthening AI Capabilities and Governing Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ project will be to review and discuss the first complete drafts of the research papers by the four academic teams at a workshop in January. The partner government agencies from Bangladesh and Thailand will attend the workshop. Workshops with both government teams will also follow the presentation of final papers in the second quarter of 2023. To mark the project's conclusion, a summit with all participants in the project will be held in mid-2023 at the Australia National University.

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Sapia.ai | December 02, 2022

Sapia.ai, creator of the world's first smart interviewer, are proud to announce that they have been accepted onto the UK government's Crown Commercial Service (CCS) procurement framework G-Cloud 13.Organisations can now find and purchase Sapia.ai's tools, including its AI-empowered smart chat which has shown to help companies deliver on their Diversity KPI's when hiring, from the government's digital marketplace. The G-cloud framework launched in 2012, with the aim of easing the procurement process for the UK government and other public sector bodies. Sapia.ai has joined over 5000 suppliers to offer its solutions within the framework. Public sector organisations are now able to access, review, and purchase Sapia.ai's automated and bias-free hiring solution easily through the marketplace, knowing that it has been vetted by the G-cloud framework. Sapia.ai is truly unique in that it allows candidates to apply for a job through a simple text chat - negating the need for CVs which have been shown to be full of bias - even when anonymised. Instead, using Sapia.ai's AI-driven technology and its bias-free database of interview responses, Sapia.ai can create an accurate and independent profile of a candidate matching their skills with their ability to do the job within seconds. Every candidate also receives personalized feedback that they can use to improve in areas for future job searches, as well as helping them understand where their strengths lie. "We are delighted to have been included in the G-Cloud 13 framework. When our technology can simultaneously lead to customers seeing accelerated diversity after just 3 months of use, as in the case of our customer Woodies, you know you have built game changing technology,We cannot wait for it to do the same in the public sector that we have for so many companies. " -Barb Hyman,CEO Sapia.ai. By using Sapia.ai public sector customers can now deliver: An interview for every candidate that applies without any need for CVs. A fast and human-focussed automated hiring system that fits into current HR processes. A time-efficient shortlisting process, while every candidate receives personalized feedback. More diverse hires with highly accurate job matching. An immediate impact on D&I KPIs. Huge cost and time savings on recruitment. About Sapia: Sapia's mission is to help companies unlock and engage talent at scale. With its blind, automated chat interview and comprehensive DEI analytics platform, Sapia's technology is the first solution of its kind to disrupt biases that affects traditional recruitment processes – resulting in fair outcomes for candidates and companies.

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Unimed Government Services Awarded Multi-Year Department of Defense Contract Valued up to $48M

United States Department of Defense | December 01, 2022

Unimed Government Services (UGS), a leading provider of supply chain solutions for government, schools, public health organizations, and the private sector, announced today that it has received a five-year Department of Defense (DOD) contract to provide medical and dental equipment and accessories in support of the DOD's mission to protect the security of the United States. The contract is a $48,000,000 maximum, fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity agreement for medical and dental equipment and accessories for the Defense Logistics Agency electronic catalog. The location of performance is Minnesota with a contract completion date of November 15, 2027. "Unimed Government Services has been supplying the federal government with the leading dental and medical equipment, product expertise, and customized solutions for over a decade, We strive to apply our high standards of service excellence coupled with the leading manufacturers' technologies to support the Tri-Service dental and medical clinics throughout the U.S. and the world, as well as our Veterans Administration Medical Centers and Indian Health Facilities. We are proud to provide the best equipment and solutions available to support our servicemen, women and our veterans." -Judith Manchester, chief executive officer for UGS. About UGS: Unimed Government Services has helped more than 20,000 clinics deliver healthcare excellence since its creation in 2010. As a distributor of the world's leading equipment and technologies in dental, medical and infection control, UGS supplies government, municipalities, schools, public health organizations and the private sector with the highest-quality products and equipment to care for their members. UGS represents leading manufacturers, providing dental and medical equipment, from imaging equipment and software to dental core products, clinic cabinetry and laboratory case work, as well as surface disinfection technologies for infection control. With deep expertise in clinic and laboratory design, UGS also creates custom, end-to-end solutions. UGS belongs to and sponsors several professional societies dedicated to safe, quality care delivery, including the American Dental Association (ADA) where UGS members serve on the Board of Dental Standards, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) where UGS is a Super Sponsor, the American Dental Educators Association (ADEA), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Woman in Defense (WID). Based in Concord, Mass., Lakeville, MN., and Mt. Pleasant, TX, UGS is a certified woman-owned small business (WOSB) and member of the Woman Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

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