Diversity benefits Standard Electronics

The company’s forte is fire, but it does data too
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Friday, January 28, 2011

SANTEE, Calif.—Being able to install and service “a plethora of diverse systems” including data networks has kept Standard Electronics busy through the economic downturn, according to Jerry Hanson, VP of operations for the company, which is based here.

Fire comprises 70 percent of this Gamewell-FCI engineered systems distributor, whose history dates back to 1955.

However, Standard also does security systems, electronic master clock time recording systems, data networking systems, and communication paging systems. A family-owned company with about 35 employees, Hanson said Standard typically has 30 to 40 projects ongoing at any one time in three verticals.

The first vertical is k-12 educational institutions, where they do everything from fire alarm systems to the sound systems to wireless clock systems, he said.

Then, Hanson said, “our secondary market vertically is the government market, followed by the commercial market, when there is such a thing.” The company has installed fire alarms at a U.S. Navy brig, a federal prison and at a military museum.

Its ability to do diverse work has helped it during the economic downturn, said Randy Hanson, field superintendent and Hanson’s son, when the two spoke to Security Systems News in late January.

“We have slowed down a bit, but it’s nothing to where it’s a devastating blow to us,” Randy Hanson said. “When you’re diversified as us, they want you to do all systems at once, which makes it more busy.”

Standard Electronics in September 2010 completed a job at Camp Cuyamaca, a residential outdoor science education school for middle-schoolers run by the San Diego County Office of Education.

At the camp, located in the Cleveland National Forest in Descanso, Calif., Standard installed a fire alarm system in a newly constructed building and retrofitted the existing alarms in the 15-building campus. Then the company also redesigned and installed the camp’s data-networking infrastructure, Randy Hanson said.

The job was overseen by two state agencies, the Division of State Architect, because the camp is a school facility, and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, because it’s in a protected forest.

Jerry Hanson said one challenge was that “you couldn’t run any wires or cable overhead, so everything had to go underground.” But they also were restricted from digging up the soil on the property. “We had to use the existing (underground) conduit and the existing structure and backbone network … That required us to use multiple panels in these facilities so we could connect them via the two-wire network we had available,” he said.

Randy Hanson said the data-networking job came next and wasn’t part of the original contract.

“Since we were doing such a good job, they came up and said, ‘We need to do this. Are you interested?’” he said. “We said, ‘Sure.’”

He said that in that job, “we ended up pulling fiber optics cable and telephone wire so that they can have computers and Internet to all the buildings and also the potential of having an intercom system through the fiber at one point or another.”