Great Lakes Building Systems has banner year

N.Y. company says variety of factors led to 30 percent growth in 2011
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Great Lakes Building Systems saw revenues increase by about 30 percent in 2011 over 2010, added five employees and is planning to open a third office this year, company president John Wojdan told Security Systems News.

“We had a record-breaking year in 2011,” said Wojdan, co-owner of the full-service fire and security company, which is based here and embarking on its 11th year. “There are several reasons why. I like to say that all cylinders are finally clicking here after 10 years of being in business.”

One reason, Wojdan said, is that Great Lakes opened a new office in Rochester, N.Y., about two years ago and that office had “a very good year.”

Also, the company, which had done piecemeal work with portable fire extinguishers, kitchen hood systems and clean suppression agents, last January “decided to jump in [to that side of the industry] with two feet,” he said.

“We rented out some more warehouse space down the road and hired a guy experienced in that industry and he’s off and running with it now,” Wojdan said. “We’re doing a lot of the extinguishing work too, as well as our fire alarm and security.”

In addition, he said, “we do a lot of cross-selling” of fire alarms and fire suppression and security products.

For example, he said, if a hotel wants a quote on a fire alarm system, the company will offer to package that with other services it offers, ranging from cameras and access control to a kitchen suppression system, saving customers money and enabling them to call one company for service instead of several.

Not only has the company sold more, but “our service department had a great year too because they’re taking in all this recurring revenue that’s generated from the team-selling approach,” Wojdan said.

Mass notification was another factor in Great Lakes’ banner year, he said. For some years now, the company has been working to convince businesses for which it does fire alarm work to upgrade to include mass notification systems. That has resulted in Great Lakes landing large contracts to provide mass notification for industries that range from an aerospace manufacturer to food manufacturers, “We’ve done a great job by expanding our core fire alarm systems to provide other services for them,” Wojdan said.

Great Lakes, a Notifier by Honeywell distributor, plans to open a third office in Syracuse, N.Y., sometime in 2012, he said. The company has been doing a lot of work in that city and “we just received authorization from Notifier to expand our sales territory to include central New York state.”