Griffon Systems looks at business-intelligence approach

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WESTCHESTER, Ill.—Griffon Systems, a systems integrator based here, takes a business-intelligence approach to security.

Paul Grefenstette, president of Griffon Systems, sold data analytics/business-intelligence software before founding Griffon Systems in 2004.  His background informs the way his company looks at security projects, he said.

“We like to provide a baseline of security as the foundation of a project, but the bigger [goal] is operational efficiency, [to help customers] understand their business better by using video,” Grefenstette said.

It’s an approach that’s worked well for Griffon Systems. Grefenstette’s business has grown steadily over the past nine years, been profitable every year, and just finished “the best first quarter ever.”

Griffon derives about 30 percent of its revenue from service contracts, which Grefenstette likes to keep simple. He includes service in the first-year contract and then offers a flat-rate service contract for subsequent years.

Griffon Systems started with analog camera systems and building DVRs. About five years ago, when the company was approached about doing a project for a city park district, Griffon Systems was introduced to megapixel IP cameras (Mobotix in this instance), and quickly decided to transition to IP-based systems.

“It’s sort of like watching HDTV for the first time; it’s hard to go back to analog,” he said.

Griffon Systems recently finished a big project for United Scrap Metal, a metal-buying and recycling center in Cicero, Ill. It installed 25 Mobotix cameras that are managed by Mobotix’s MxControlCenter. The system enables the company to comply with government regulations that stipulate that company keep detailed records of who sells them scrap metals and what kinds of scrap metals it buys from customers.

It used Mobotix high-resolution cameras to record license plate numbers of those who sell materials and to take images of the materials they sell to United.

In addition, the system enables management to keep a close eye on the 35-acre scrap yard remotely. This allows them to assess operations and assign personnel to the most critical areas. United is already realizing tremendous return on investment due to the ability to proactively manage staff levels, ensure compliance with regulations, and other efficiencies the system allows.

Griffon Systems has developed a specialty in niche verticals such as the scrap metal industry and city park districts. “In small industries everyone knows everyone else. You get in and do well [and then you get more jobs] through word of mouth. We like those kinds of verticals,” he said.

Thus far, Griffon Systems has done 20 park districts in Illinois. Work there has led to municipal government projects, including police departments. “When there’s been an incident, the police come and look at the [detailed image quality of the video and the functionality of the cameras] and say, ‘We should have this too,’” Grefenstette said.

“It’s great to secure a parking lot, but we like to provide an eagle-eye view of their entire operations,” Grefenstette said.