Regional quest prompts move west

Monday, March 1, 2004

AKRON, Ohio - The Comm Group is going west, so to speak, as part of its effort to become a regional provider of integrated security, telecommunications, and structured cabling services.

Late last year the company opened an office here, its first location outside its hometown of Robinson Township, Pa. Another office is slated to open in Columbus, Ohio, before the end of the first quarter.

The two locations come as the systems integrator begins its physical expansion outside of Pennsylvania. While the company has serviced clients in the Ohio market for some time, company officials felt it was time to add a physical presence in the market.

“We had some existing projects out there in Jackson, Ohio, and Cleveland,” said Paul Caruso, vice president of The Comm Group. “We thought Akron was an in-between site to service those existing customers.”

So far much of the boom for The Comm Group in Ohio is coming from the education market. Today’s schools not only require security systems but also telecommunications work, such as voice over IP and intercom systems.

That opportunity in the school market is expected to help propel The Comm Group to $15 million in revenue in 2004. The company has already brought on-board 12 full-time installers to service the Ohio market. Today, the company employs nearly 80 people.

“There’s a lot of opportunity because this particular company has all the offerings necessary in the emerging K-12 education markets,” said Luther Smith, sales engineer in the company’s Akron office, one of two sales people. “ There’s a lot of updating of schools to the new digital world. Network phones are very big and technology as a way of improving educational productivity.”

The Comm Group obtained that expertise by merging with BPS Systems, a company proficient in telephone and intercom systems, last year. The two companies have since come together and now operate under The Comm Group name.

“It’s been great,” said Caruso, who came from BPS about the time the two companies came together. “Of the two different offerings the companies had, we had very little overlap. Our experience enables us to bid technology packages in Ohio.”