Benevolence benefits business, N.Y. fire company finds

Briscoe Protective Systems says its various programs to aid nonprofits not only helps them but brings referrals
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CENTEREACH, N.Y.—Being good to nonprofits is also good for business. That’s what Briscoe Protective Systems, an engineered systems fire and security company based here, has found in offering cost-effective products and services to nonprofit agencies, ranging from extended warranties to free training classes.

“I’ll tell you what comes from it: an outstanding reputation. Because just like a bad vendor, a good vendor, the word spreads,” Denise Rueda, Briscoe public relations director, told Security Systems News. “… That word of mouth has brought us business.”

Bolstering the bottom line isn’t the prime motivation for Briscoe’s commitment to nonprofits, according to company President Bob Williams. Williams said the values of his grandfather, Bert Briscoe, are at the core of the company, which was founded in 1978 and many of whose customers are in New York City.

“Bert believed in helping people through a corporate responsibility to the community,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to carrying out his vision in our work with the nonprofit community.”

The nonprofits Briscoe works with range from small agencies to ones with more than 100 sites, and they provide such services as working with autistic children, helping the homeless and giving addicts a chance at recovery, Rueda said.

Recognizing that tight budgets prevent many nonprofits from being able to give bonuses to their employees, Briscoe does that for its nonprofit customers with the annual Bert Briscoe Award. The award recognizes the hard work and dedication of select nonprofit employees.

Rueda said the monetary award can range from $250 to $1,000, depending on the size of the agency. The agencies can choose whether to give the award to just one person or split it among several deserving employees.

Briscoe also offers nonprofits extended 5-year equipment warranties on all completed new systems, unlimited replacement warranties on smoke detector parts included with full-term inspection agreements, and a secondary $7 million liability insurance policy.

Rueda said nonprofits have fixed budgets that often don’t include funding for unplanned contingencies. “They can’t predict when a piece or part goes bad, and if they have a storm and there’s water damage, this gives them a sense of comfort if they’re part of a warranty plan,” she said.

Briscoe also provides free training to any nonprofit—customers or non-customers—on fire safety and changes or updates in New York City’s fire code.

Rueda said that because nonprofits have frequent staff turnover, they have to keep retraining staff about fire regulations, and that’s where Briscoe comes in. In addition to their regular jobs, she and a team of other experts among Briscoe’s approximately 50 employees travel around the city to nonprofit agencies to give the training on site and then are available for follow-up questions by phone or email.

Rueda said Briscoe has been offering the free training classes for about three years and about 960 people, 80 percent of them employees of nonprofits, have taken them. “That’s the dedication to the nonprofit community that we feel,” she said. “We see the need and we step in and we fill a gap.”

She said that providing those classes also has brought business.

“I’ve given the class and a year later, had someone reach out to me to give quotes on services,” Rueda said. “And the worst case scenario: We did something good in our industry by helping save lives and educating the staff. … And they’re going to remember us. Who gives free anything?”