American Security stoked about fire business

New contracts, strategic hiring and a parts-and-smarts approach help the NYC company grow its fire division
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.—American Security Systems recently announced new developments for its fast-growing fire division, including winning a New York City Housing Authority contract to service 231 community and day care centers and other buildings in the city’s five boroughs.

The company, based here, also has hired industry veteran Shia Tauber as senior sales engineer. Tauber has 25 years of experience, and his areas of expertise include electrical and fire industry design, project management and IT, the company said.

“He’s very, very strong with parts and smarts,” American CEO Larry Dolin told Security Systems News.

He said that’s important because the 32-year-old diversified company’s fire division—which started just seven years ago—takes that approach to fire. “We’ve signed up some hotel projects we traditionally wouldn’t have had, but it’s parts and smarts and it’s because we brought in much more experienced people [such as Tauber],” Dolin said.

American is one of New York City’s largest independent security and life safety providers. It has 80 employees and 8,000 accounts, about 4,200 of them monitored, and generally contracts with electrical contractors on fire jobs. “They do the install and we do the programing, the termination, the head end, and then it goes into our central station [American uses Statewide Monitoring for third-party monitoring], and we get the testing and the inspection and service contract,” Dolin said. “The beautiful part of that is, while we’re working essentially for the electrician, the customer is ours at the end of the road.”

He said the fire division is growing “at least 100 percent a year now.”

Dolin, who founded American in 1980, said the decision to get into fire came relatively recently for the company. Although American offered central station monitoring for fire for years, “we had been very reluctant to get into the fire business because of the engineering” and other requirements dictated by fire codes, he said.

But he said he realized about seven years ago “there’s one thing about fire: It’s coded and it’s going to be a constant.” Customers, he said, “have to have it. They have no choice.”

Now, he said, the fire division makes up about 25 percent of American’s business. “Our two fastest-growing divisions are that and our Video Doorman division,” Dolin said.

Ken Gould, American’s president, told SSN last year that his aim was to grow the fire business to 35 percent within two years. [http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/america... [Link - grow the fire business to 35 percent within two years.]

The company recently won a contract to do the fire monitoring and service for all New York City Housing Authority day care and community centers in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. “It will help us with recurring revenue,” Dolin said.

American was involved in the founding of the New York Fire Alarm Association about four years ago, he said. Jeffrey Siegel, director of American’s life safety division, recently was elected president of the association, Dolin said.

“[The association] is growing in membership and has meetings and trainings, but really most important is that we are very closely aligned with the New York City fire department and the fire chiefs and involved with improving rules and regulations and improving relationships between the alarm security and life safety vendors and the fire department,” Dolin said.

American said it is an authorized strategic partner with several fire alarm manufacturers, including Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell and Vigilant by Edwards.