Tyco Fire works to develop sprinkler market

Tyco says its Rapid Response Contractor Network benefits company, installers, builders
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

LANSDALE, Pa.—With all model fire and life safety codes now requiring fire sprinklers in new homes, new sprinkler markets are opening up as more and more states and local communities pass laws complying with the codes.

Tyco Fire Protection Products, a worldwide manufacturer of sprinkler systems based here, says a network of residential fire sprinkler installation contractors it has developed over the last few years helps both Tyco and the installers take advantage of the growing market opportunity.

“We’ve been active in trying to develop that market and trying to encourage the use of fire sprinklers in single family homes,” Darren Palmieri, East Coast business development manager for Tyco Fire Protection Products, a division of Tyco International, told Security Systems News. “We have a network of installation contractors whose primary focus is installing sprinklers in homes … We call it the Rapid Response Contractor Network.”

Rapid Response Home Fire Sprinkler System is the brand for Tyco Fire Protection Products’ residential line of products, he said.

Palmieri said the contractor network was created about five years ago as Tyco realized that builders grappling with new sprinkler requirements wanted to develop a relationship with a local sprinkler installer the same way they develop relationships with the electricians, plumbers and HVAC contractors who install the other systems that are part of a new home.

“But for fire sprinklers, for many builders, it’s a new system and a new technology that they’re incorporating in their home,” Palmieri said. “So having a network of contractors that we partner with gives the builder confidence in who they’re hiring.”

Tony Fleming, owner and president of Metropolitan Fire Protection in Clinton, Md., a leading residential sprinkler contractor with about 70 employees serving several Mid-Atlantic States and Washington, D.C., said his company has been part of the network almost since its inception.

“The doors that it opens up are tremendous,” he told SSN. “Let’s face it, Tyco is a lot bigger fish than what we are or can be or will ever be, and the name is strong behind it and it helps to open up a lot of stuff.”

Because sprinklers are so new to many builders, he said, “sometimes they’re calling the distributor before they’re calling the contractor.” The distributor then passes the lead on to contractors in the network, Fleming said.

He and Palmieri cited numerous benefits of the network program, which Palmieri said is active in California, Chicago, Maryland and Pennsylvania—where local and/or state laws mandate residential sprinklers.

The network is increasing business for Tyco and installers, Fleming and Palmieri said.

“It gives Tyco an advantage because we’re able to partner with some of the best installation contactors out there. And for the installing contractors, it’s added credibility because they’ve partnered with the world’s largest manufacturer of sprinklers systems,” Palmieri said.

Also, he said, “it helps with some marketing muscle.” Tyco helps installers with everything from their literature to their web sites and goes with them to trade shows.

Fleming said being at shows with Tyco not only gives him a deeper understanding of the industry, but also helps him generate business.

“I’ve witnessed it firsthand,” he said. “I’ve been at the trade shows and I’ve seen the builders come up [to Tyco representatives] and say, ‘Hey, what makes your products better?’ and after hearing that speech the second question the builders always ask is, ‘Well, who in my area can install it?’”

If the builder is in Fleming’s service area, he would get the lead.

The relationship also gives installers an opportunity to give feedback directly to the manufacturer. Installers sometimes give ideas to Tyco about changes that would make installation easier.

“And the next thing we know there’s someone playing around and coming out with a way to do that,” Fleming said. “It helps push our industry along with technology.”

The home sprinkler market is not as robust right now as it has the potential to be because of the slowdown in new home construction, he said.

But Fleming said that Tyco has implemented such incentives as offering certain builders a discount on sprinkler equipment used in model homes, “and that has helped us out.”

“Let’s face it,” Fleming said of the Tyco contractor network. “They want more sales, I want more sales, we basically want the same thing, and putting our heads together and coming up with these ideas is better [than sprinkler installers trying to go it alone].”