SenSource Celebrates 20 Years of Success

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio — In its 20 years of operation, SenSource has put its technology in 32,000 facilities across 47 countries — and it all started in a two-story home on the west side of Youngstown in 2002.

SenSource offers revolutionary people-counting systems that allows companies and organizations to accurately collect actionable foot traffic data. The sensors can be found in notable companies such as Disney, Sephora, Harbor Freight Tools, The National 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Columbus Metropolitan Library System.

The company celebrated its anniversary Thursday afternoon with a cocktail hour and speeches from the founders, president Joe Varacalli and vice president Kevin Stefko. Special guests also shared remarks, including U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Jim Dascenzo, principal at HBK and chairman of the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Varacalli and Stefko were the only employees when they founded the company 20 years ago after being long-time friends, and now it’s grown to 23 full-time staff members. Varacalli says the company’s growth is thanks to a little hope and a lot of faith.

“If someone would have told me back in 2002 that Kevin and I would be standing here celebrating 20 years of flourishing business together, I’d probably laugh. I would have never believed that,” he said. “As I look back, I know without a doubt, God’s hand was in it.”

Stefko had his own doubts, but he and Varacalli decided to risk everything to see if the American dream is everything it’s thought to be.

“When you first start out, you don’t know if you’re gonna make it. 2002 was tough,” he said. “You just didn’t know. You sell everything you got, you put it all on the line, and you find out if the American dream is real.”

The pair first developed the business as an online supplier of sensors for industrial applications such as motion-detectors and parts counters. They soon found their niche: people-counting sensor technology. While the company was already successful, the pandemic sparked an insurgence of business as public spaces needed a way to control occupancy.

“We were growing anyways, but with the sensor and the occupancy part of it, that piece transformed us,” Stefko said. “Our guys redesigned our software platform real quick, like within a week to accommodate that. We didn’t miss a beat.”

Johnson noted that the company could have set up shop in one of the major tech capitals of the world, but chose to stay close to home.

“The Mahoning Valley is fortunate to have such a successful business that chooses to be here – they could be anywhere. They could be in New York, they could be in Silicon Valley,” he said. “They could be anywhere they want to be. But they choose to be right here in the Mahoning Valley, and we’re glad that they’ve chosen to remain right here in Youngstown.”

Stefko and Varacalli said they want to be in the Mahoning Valley, and show their love for the area and its people by hiring locally. Stefko said that as the company continues to grow, he wants to keep that core value of having a local staff. Stefko and Varacalli have a soft spot for graduates from their alma mater, YSU, they said.

President Tressel presented Stekfo and Varacalli with the same challenge coin that was gifted to every YSU student this year that reads, “Where you belong is where you succeed.” Tressel said that the quote is fitting for the local company.

“We’re so blessed that you belong here and that you’ve been succeeding here. We want you to continue to do that, just like we want those students to continue to believe that they belong here,” Tressel remarked during his speech. “We want them to stay here and we want to make sure that the history of civilization, this pendulum swinging back and forth, swings back in this direction.”

While the company started in Youngstown, it branched out to Austintown where it’s now headquartered. The business partners bought the building they occupy on Oakwood Avenue in 2007 after landing their first major client: Abercrombie and Fitch.

Varacalli said that while some people say they’re “stuck” in the Mahoning Valley, he said they’re blessed to be here.

“For as small as this town is, we put out some of the best people. We’re made of people and families who know how to help each other. We never give up on someone,” he said. “We know we’re better together – our diversity, grit and strong sense of character is what makes us.”

Pictured above from left: Vice president Kevin Stefko and president Joe Varacalli

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.