Midsized integrator AISG plans to double in size in five years
COLLEGE POINT, N.Y.—American Integrated Security Group’s president, Levy Acs, says one of the most important factors in his system integration firm’s rapid growth has been patience.
Founded in 2007 by Acs and his silent partner, Abraham Jacobi, a real estate entrepreneur and investor, AISG has grown from three employees in 2007 to 128 employees today. Revenues last year were close to $18 million. Acs told Security Systems News that the company has more than “$27 million in the pipeline right now, and these are not low-margin jobs."
Moreover, Acs said his goal is to grow AISG to be one of the largest independent integrators in North America, with revenues of $50 million to $100 million. It’s a goal he thinks can be accomplished within the next five years.
With its rapid growth in the past five years and its revenue targets, it may not seem like the company has needed a lot of patience. Acs, however, said that AISG had some tough years, particularly when the economy tanked in 2008 and 2009.
“Three years ago we had 30 employees; our growth has really exploded in the past three years,” he said.
Many of AISG’s first jobs were small, but they’ve grown in scale and profitability. For example, AISG has done work for energy companies that have solar energy facilities. Solar energy facilities have become a major vertical focus for AISG and now the company expects to break into a different energy vertical—nuclear power plants—protecting nuclear facilities that are owned by those same energy companies.
“You have to show patience and dedication to prove to [those customers] what we can do,” Acs said.
Likewise, AISG started small with one of its major retail clients, Burlington Coat Factory. It’s now done system upgrades from analog to IP systems for more than 400 stores, and Burlington Coat Factory is opening more stores all of the time, he said.
“You walk off the site, but you do not disappear,” Acs said. “Your most important customers are [your existing] customers.”
In addition to its headquarters here, which also houses a monitoring station that does video monitoring, AISG has offices in Medford Lakes, N.J., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Phoenix.
To be successful with its video monitoring business, Acs said AISG really has to make the original sale and install its own equipment—it offers equipment from Honeywell and Pelco, among others—and offer its own service.
“It has to be turnkey. It might be the slower way to grow the business, but it’s the more secure way,” he said.
Aside from energy and retail, AISG does work for the federal government and in schools, health care, gaming and other verticals. It offers a virtual doorman service, which has grown quickly in the New York City area.
Is doubling or even quadrupling the business in five years too ambitious?
Acs notes that he came to this country from Romania in 1994 with no money and speaking no English. He did have an engineering degree from a European university and knew five other languages, and he had a goal.
Things work out, Acs said, “when I’m patient and I know my goal, and [right now] my main focus is this company.”