State Systems adds sprinkler division

Company says sprinkler services answer customers’ demand for ‘one-stop shopping’
 - 
Thursday, May 5, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—State Systems, a provider of life safety and security systems based here, has joined a small but growing trend in the industry: the addition of fire sprinkler division.

Company president Bob McBride told Security Systems News that the new division was added in February and is expected to bring in significant revenue. “Our goal is to grow it to $1 million a year within five years,” he said.

In business for 25 years, the company does about $10 million in revenues. It has 86 employees and 5,000 commercial customers, including Burger King, Wendy’s and William Sonoma, or institutional, such as hospitals and hotels.

State Systems serves an area within a 100-mile radius of Memphis, which includes parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The company plans to add a total of three to five new employees associated with the sprinkler division. One of them is already on board, Terry Donovan, manager of the new division.

McBride said he had wanted to add sprinkler services previously but waited until he found someone with the right experience in the industry: Donovan. He has 30 years’ experience with fire sprinklers and previously worked for SimplexGrinnell in Memphis.

Donovan said adding a sprinkler division is “somewhat of a new trend” among regional and local fire and security companies. “More and more companies are looking into it,” he said. “They’re looking to offer the customer the whole one-stop shopping of life and safety needs.”

He said that at State Systems, the decision was “customer-driven.”

The company will concentrate on sprinkler inspections and service and not do installation, at least at first, Donovan said.

“That’s going to be our base, the service base, but as we establish that base and have a firm foundation, we will be looking toward growing from there,” he said.

McBride said he expects many longtime customers will welcome sprinkler services as an add-on to services they already receive.

About 10 to 15 percent of State Systems’ business is security, access control and CCTV, said McBride, who said he partnered with his father in starting the company 25 years ago.

Last year, Lancaster, Pa.-based Select Security created a new sprinkler division by acquiring an existing sprinkler company.

Another security company, Safeguard Security in Scottsdale, Ariz., also bought a small sprinkler company in 2010.

McBride said that in State Systems’ case, “we’re doing it from the ground up, so we did not purchase anyone.”