Potter launches new line aimed at middle market

Company plans to go after larger facilities next
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

St. LOUIS—In what executives say is a major launch they’ve been working on for four years, Potter Electric Signal released a new line of addressable fire panels at ISC West that it will be showcasing at the NFPA in June.

The company is excited about new capabilities included in the line such as system-wide synchronization, Ethernet connection and email communication capabilities, Dave Kosciuk, executive VP and general manager of Potter’s Fire/Security Division, told Security Systems News.

Potter has “taken the lead in providing the over-the-counter fire market with the most advanced systems in the industry,” Jeff Hendrickson, VP of product management for Potter’s Fire/Security Division, said in a statement.

Kosciuk said the new IP-based panels are plug and play for ease of installation and are designed for the medium to low-end marketplace, buildings such as small hotels, K-12, and box stores such as pharmacy chains.

Part of Potter’s PFC Series, Kosciuk said the line got “great response” at ISC West and represents a shift for the privately-held Potter, which has “always been a third-party-to-market type of manufacturer” that has taken “other people’s products and privately labeled then and brought them to market.”

In this case, Kosciuk said, “this is Potter’s first line of [addressable] fire alarm control panels that we actually wrote the specifications for and did the design work and the engineering.”

He said that “Potter controls its own destiny with the design of these new products … This is very exiting for Potter because we are an independent and it gives an alternative to the marketplace from someone other than the big guys.”

Among the features of the panels is email communication capability. “You could gather a lot of information [such as status reports and programming information] from the control panel via email and that is by connecting directly from our control panel into a systems network,” Kosciuk explained.

The panels also make use of Potter’s patented Quadrasync technology, he said. “We can sync different manufacturers’ audiovisual devices to all sync together off the same panel. That’s a unique feature of ours,” he said.

That feature is especially important to the retrofit market because installers can save an end user money by having existing audiovisual devices from different manufacturers sync together instead of replacing them, Kosciuk said.

Potter made news last year when it announced a partnership with Nohmi, a Japanese manufacturer, which brought with it a new, full line of fire alarm products, and for refinancing its debt in September with a new lender, First Tennessee Bank.

Company president Bernie Lears said then that the refinancing would assist Potter in developing new fire products.

Kosciuk told SSN that Nohmi engineers joined Potter in the design of one of the new panels, and he said the refinancing aided in the development of the product.

“Nohmi is still our partner and absolutely, the refinancing with First Tennessee is a big plus and a big help and it will continue to be a big help to us,” Kosciuk said.

He also added that while these products are designed for the medium-sized market and below, Potter is planning to release a product for larger facilities in about six months. “Potter plans on moving up market in the very near future,” Kosciuk said.