CSSC in right place for success

Southern Colorado fire company thriving on big contracts with military, hospitals and more
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Location, location, location—and being the only authorized Notifier integrated systems distributor in southern Colorado—has helped Commercial Specialists of Southern Colorado (CSSC) land such fire alarm contracts as one for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

CSSC is based here and the Air Force Academy is nearby, virtually in its backyard. “We are the sole source for the Air Force Academy,” Dean Doiron, executive manager of the 10-employee, full-service fire company, told Security Systems News. “We have a huge network on that base [that is] exclusively proprietary, and since it is a basewide network, nothing can go on that base except Notifier [by Honeywell] equipment and I am the guy because it’s in my territory.”

CSSC has two sister companies: Commercial Specialists Inc. in Grand Junction, Colo., founded in the 1970s; and Commercial Specialists of Western Colorado, in Eagle, Colo., which began in 1999, Doiron said. The three independent companies provide products and services to more than 75 percent of Colorado, he said.

CSSC is the newest of the companies—Doiron founded it in 2001. It has a number of other large customers, including the Penrose-St. Francis hospital and medical center in Colorado Springs.

“St. Francis is also a sole-source account for us and they have the two biggest hospitals in town,” Doiron said. “They have the main [hospital] campus downtown that’s been there about 75 years and they just built a new one up the north end of town, St. Francis Medical Center, and that’s also a network, so we’ve got all of that.”

 “HP [Hewlett-Packard] has a big presence here. We’re exclusive to HP and several others,” including community colleges, Doiron said. “Just the accounts that we’re sole sources on is enough really to keep us alive.”

He added, “Another one that’s kind of a prestigious account is DirectTV.” DirectTV’s headquarters is in nearby Castle Rock, Colo., he said. CSSC not only installed the fire alarm system in the Castle Rock facility but in DirectTV’s dozen uplink facilities that stretch from New Hampshire to Washington state, Doiron said.

“We have fire alarm systems inside those uplink facilities and they’re all networked back to Castle Rock,” he said. “To my knowledge, it’s the only coast-to-coast network out there.”

But he said the company’s “top shelf” customer is the Air Force Academy. The contract for the academy is worth about $600,000 to $700,000 a year, he said.

“The network currently is about 75 nodes … but there are about 800-plus buildings on the base, and so the intent is to methodically go through and update the fire alarm systems in all those buildings and then as we upgrade them put them on the network,” Doiron said. “Our hope is over the next 10 to 15 years to get all the buildings on the network.”

He said CSSC carries much more inventory than it normally would for the important client. “Of the three basic system types we have now, we keep on average two complete systems of each type on our shelves all the time,” he said. That way, he said, if there should be an emergency, like a lightning strike, the company can immediately replace the system.

But he said keeping the contract involves more than being in the right place with the right product.

“One of the things I’m very proud of is that it’s a big network and we’ve put millions of dollars of equipment out there, but the fact is they’re very happy with it and they’re happy with us,” he said.