Brothers goes national with new manager

The Minnesota-based company has expanded regionally; now it’s ready for national accounts
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

ELK RIVER, Minn.—Brothers Fire Protection is embarking on a “new chapter” for the 17-year-old business: bringing its fire and life safety business from a regional to a national level with a new national accounts division and new manager to lead it.

Brothers, which is based here, in July announced the hiring of John Sexton, who has more than 30 years of experience in the fire protection industry, as national accounts manager.

Stephen R. Cieslukowski, Brothers president, told Security Systems News he is “ecstatic” to bring Sexton on board. “I’ve been looking for someone to fill this role for about a year,” he said.

He said Sexton will help Brothers, a Siemens distributor that currently serves clients in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin, to expand to the national marketplace.

“John’s arrival … marks a new chapter in the history of Brothers Fire Protection,” Cieslukowski said.

Sexton formerly worked developing a national presence for Northstar Fire Protection, according to Cieslukowski. He said in a statement that Sexton “has been involved with some of the biggest construction projects in the nation including: Soldier Field in Chicago, Midway Airport in Chicago, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres) LP Field (home of the Tennessee Titans), the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, and the Southeast Financial Center in Miami.”

Sexton has worked with large, national general contractors and construction managers on such jobs, Cieslukowski said. “What John brings to us is a bridge to those contractors,” he said.

Going national is the “next logical step” for Brothers, which has about 75 employees and has gradually expanded its offerings and its footprint from its Minnesota base into nearby states.

Brothers’ business is about 50 percent fire—including fire sprinklers and alarm and suppression systems design, building, installation, inspection and service—and half security, such as cameras and door access. Its focus is multi-unit housing such as apartments, condominiums and townhouses and also commercial and institutional buildings, Cieslukowski said.

However, he said, as regional company, “there’s so much market share you can reasonably cover. As we look at the type of work we’re good at—apartments, schools, prisons, hospitals, airports—there’s only so much of that work here in Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa … To do more airport work, we have to travel.”

Yet the challenge of going national is that “you really have to understand the nuances of each market,” all the regulations and the various agencies, so as to not underbid projects, Cieslukowski said. “Having somebody like John who understands those nuances helps us avoid those pitfalls,” he said.

Brothers announced this spring that its fire alarm and life safety team has been granted an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing for the company's fire alarm and monitoring services. Cieslukowski said that as the company markets itself nationally, the UL listing will help. “It adds more credibility to our operation,” he said.