TriTek: Service, specialized jobs spur 10 years of growth

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Ten years ago, TriTek Fire, Security & Communications, based here, was “basically two men and a truck,” according to Eddie Stevens, one of its co-founders. Today, it has 50 employees, annual revenues in the multimillions and three offices—with plans for a fourth office by the end of this year.

The secret to its success? Superior service and taking on large, complex jobs that other companies shy away from in verticals such as health care and education, Stevens told Security Systems News.

“We built the company basically on service,” said Stevens, who started the company in 2003 with another former Simplex employee, TriTek GM Tom Magill. Stevens said: “It’s more about making [customers] happy and they call us back.”

About 75 percent of the company’s work is fire related, but it also does other low-voltage work such as sound, access control and CCTV. Stevens declined to reveal a specific figure for the company’s revenue, but he said it is in the multimillions.

A lot of TriTek’s work is for the education, government, and health care sectors. One reason is that those verticals are “reliable and they’re code-driven, and they’re AHJ-driven, so the work is always going to be there,” Stevens said.

Even more importantly, however, they fit the “specialized” nature of TriTek, he said.

“Those are the more complicated systems and that’s what we do,” Stevens explained. “A lot of people shy away from doing those type of jobs because of the complications that you run into—the different jurisdictions you deal with and you have multiple AHJs on any given project. It’s a lot more complicated than a one-story office building somewhere that’s 5,000 square feet.”

Among projects that TriTek has undertaken is installing the fire alarm and sound systems at the new River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. The $90 million high school, which exceeds 500,000 square feet, is on 146 acres and can accommodate as many as 2,500 students, will open Aug. 19.

TriTek, which does most of the maintenance for the school district and is a Notifier by Honeywell dealer, won the $500,000 bid for the job, which took two years to complete, he said.

One of the features the school district specially requested for the school was a Notifier ONYX First Vision panel, the touchscreen graphics of which are designed to meet the needs of the firefighters, Stevens said. The First Vision panel, which has buttons large enough that firefighters can push them with their gloves on, can tell first responders not only what building and what floor is in alarm but even what room is involved, Stevens said.

Also, according to Notifier, it helps firefighters know “all of the high risk areas, sprinkler shut off valves, gas shut off valves and how the fire is spreading without ever having to set foot outside the fire command.” Also, the company said, the panel “provides critical contact information for on site personnel along with all of the buildings service providers.”

In addition to its main office here, TriTek has branches in Augusta, Ga., and Florence, S.C., Stevens said. He said the company also is actively looking to site a new office in one of three other South Carolina locations: Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

“We do a great deal of work in all three of those locations,” but TriTek will choose one that best suits the company, Stevens said. It plans to buy an office, rather than rent. “You need to be part of the community, have an investment in the community, to service it correctly,” he said. “That way, you have a dog in their fight.”

TriTek serves all of South Carolina and parts of Georgia and North Carolina, he said.