Sega was founded in 1973 by Gary Cavanah, but its start came a few years earlier when Gary decided to help out some teenage boys with an A.M. broadcast station.
In 1966, Gary began working at Bailey Controls. Shortly after starting, a friend of his told him about some high school boys who wanted to start their own A.M. broadcast radio station. At that time, you could run your own unlicensed broadcast station as long as an open frequency was used and the output was kept under 1/10 of a watt. Electronics were a hobby of Gary’s and he’d already designed and sold several items, so Gary designed a 1/10 watt transmitter for the boys and the radio station was started. Attempting to take this to a business level, in 1969 the boys incorporated as Kustom Audio Operational Systems (KAOS).
The radio station was a success. Gary’s brother suggested that the boys move the station to a town where there was no A.M. station of its own and turn their station into a commercial venture. KAOS moved to Blue Springs, Missouri and operated out of a rented store front. The station didn’t function nearly as well at its new location due to grounding problems. The station shut down shortly after. However, Gary and his brother still had a 5-year lease on the store front and rather than trying to get out of the lease, they looked for a new venture to use the facility.
Gary and his brother turned the store into a photography shop and built a darkroom in the back. The photography studio didn’t do well and only lasted for about 6 months. Gary and his brother were faced with what to do with the rented space, yet again. They decided to use the photographic equipment to do screen printing on t-shirts and sweatshirts that they could sell to motorcycle shops. The shirts turned out to be a huge hit at the motorcycle shops. This went on for two years before Gary was ready for something different. He bought out his brother’s shares of the company and went back to his old hobby of designing and building custom electronic equipment.
In 1971, the business was operating under the name Specialized Electronics and Graphic Arts. Gary was still a full-time employee of Bailey Controls Company, but was making a variety of electronic modules for his own company. These were the first products to bear the Sega name and logo. The double circle that is part of Sega’s logo is derived from the symbol for an electronic current source.
In 1973, Gary left Bailey and started Sega as a full-time operation. The company provided custom circuit designs and silk screening, but was turning into a boiler instrument and control service company.
In 1977, the decision was made to move the company to Kansas since most of its seven employees already lived in Kansas. Sega bought a building in Stanley, Kansas, but only used the front two offices. The rest of the building was rented out to a family-owned jewelry store. One year later, Sega expanded and took over the rest of the building. When the company moved to Kansas, it operated under the name Specialized Electronics and Graphic Arts. In 1982, an amendment was filed to change the name to Sega Inc.
Until the mid-1980s, Sega was populated almost entirely with instrument and control service engineers and technicians. The transition from a single-discipline service company to a multi-discipline engineering firm was driven by two things: customer requests and changing technology. The changing control system technology began reducing the amount of instrument and control service work that was readily available in the KC area, but also had a positive effect on Sega. The newer control system technology offered the ability to implement much more sophisticated control schemes. This required in-house engineering and software development. Sega had a group of experienced boiler control engineers and technicians and soon gained an excellent reputation by successfully applying the new control system technology to the boiler control applications. Our clients identified with Sega’s roll-up-your-sleeves people and complimented us on the fact that we listened to our customers’ needs and worked with them closely.
In 1986, Sega started its consulting engineering services. Clients could see the advantage of “one-stop-shopping” for all aspects of a control retrofit. The ever increasing array of disciplines that were available at Sega allowed the company to take on larger jobs, grow, and add new services to support new construction and facility upgrades of all types for their steam and electric generation customers. In 2000, Sega expanded our capabilities to include site development projects, and in 2001, power delivery projects. Air permitting and air quality control project capabilities were added in 2003.
In 1995, the employees began purchasing the company from Gary. Dick Sands became President/CEO in 1996 and guided Sega through the buyout years. Sega is currently 100% ESOP owned. In 2002, John Brown, Jr. became President/CEO. John served as President/CEO until 2013 when Sega’s fourth President, Derek Jacobs, took over. John is still serving as the CEO.
In 1996, Sega moved into their current building at 16041 Foster, Overland Park, Kansas. After 10 years, Sega noticed that their building was becoming cramped. Soon every available space in the building was being used as an office, including conference rooms. Sega even had to rent space in a building down the street. Sega made the decision to expand its current facility to accommodate for future growth. In January 2008, Sega broke ground on their expansion project and by that September they had more than doubled their square footage.
Sega has built a nationwide reputation for providing quality engineering services for the energy industry including control systems, power generation and power delivery.