0318_MayJune_SparksElectronics impact almost every aspect of daily life. Everything from a self-driving car to voice activation control is being integrated into our everyday lives in a multitude of ways, from chores to entertainment. However, installing and setting up this new lifestyle can sometimes seem daunting. Randy and Nancy Sparks, owners of 21st Century Electronix/Automation, lead a team that recognizes this trend and can professionally assist with making this way of life a reality.

“With our storefront at Dumar Plaza in Osage Beach, we can demonstrate the wide range of technologies and show how they can be easily integrated into a customer’s home, business or even a boat,” Randy explains. “We provide in-home consultations and professional installation to customize these technologies to make sure they fit the specific needs of our clients.”

In the world of internet sales, 21st Century is making people rethink the way they view small custom-electronics retail stores. Historically, these stores have provided products at costs much higher than other options.

“Our goal,” Randy states, “is to offer electronics at a price competitive with the big box stores while providing the personal professional service of a local store.” With well-trained service technicians, engineers and over 35 years of experience in the electronics industry, “No job is too big or too small. As long as I can remember, I always enjoyed trying to figure out how things worked, especially electronics,” he says.

Randy grew up in Robinson, Illinois, a rural town in the central part of the state. He went on to acquire degrees in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Illinois in Champagne. Degrees in hand, Randy spent the next 12 years working in the utility industry for Central Illinois Public Service Company, where he held several different positions in the engineering groups. He also was asked to be a member of the merger team as CIPS and Union Electric merged to become what is now known as Ameren. While in the utility business he helped design control systems for power plants and large transmission substations.

The next 10 years, Randy worked in the manufacturing industry as the owner of Leading Edge Enterprises, providing tooling and engineering services for ductile iron foundry and plastic injection companies. His company built the tools or molds that actually made the parts that you could touch and feel — something very different than dealing with electronics. They built brake anchors and calipers for the Toyota Camry, the 12-cylinder engine block for Caterpillar and numerous other parts for both Ford and General Motors.

Along the way, Nancy entered his life. They had grown up only nine miles apart, as she is from Oblong, Illinois. Interestingly, it was boating that brought them together. Randy had purchased a boat while in college so he and his friends could spend the summers having fun.

As luck would have it, one of his friends introduced him to Nancy. “We married at the young age of 20 more than 35 years ago,” Nancy says. “We have boated almost all of our life together. That’s what brought us to the Lake of the Ozarks just over 12 years ago.”
Randy and Nancy have one daughter, Macy, who is a senior at the University of Missouri and shares this love of boating. She will be attending the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, this fall. They also enjoy their dog, Domino, a Llewellyn
Setter, that goes everywhere with them. “He can be seen riding in the bow of our boat with his nose up in the air,” Nancy says.

In their spare time the Sparks’ enjoy boating to dinner or wake surfing on the Lake, downhill snow skiing in Colorado and taking
trips to the beach.

But most of the time, they’re busy meeting the needs of their customers. Their team consults and installs a wide variety of electrical, home entertainment and security needs. Their LED lighting can be found in businesses, churches, restaurants, bars, homes, pools, waterfalls and docks. Their audio-visual talents were part of the new Jumbotron at the Camdenton Laker football field and the Camdenton Dogwood Elementary School’s audio-video system. A recent and more integrated project is at Lake Parke Senior Living, an assisted-living facility in Camdenton.

Here, 21st Century designed, built and installed a comprehensive automation system. “One time an artist came to me after seeing some of our work and asked us to design a piece for Chicago’s Midway Airport security area,” Randy recalls. “It’s a 40-foot by 8-foot by 4-foot model that depicts the shape and depth ‒ to scale ‒ of Lake Michigan. So we do some things that are outside the norm.”

Whether it’s art with electrical enhancement, a business with security and lighting needs or a resident wishing for a simple video
doorbell, 21st Century provides personal consultation, professional engineering and installation. •