Earlier this year, two East Coast security and A/V businesses merged together, and what they found was that combining a residential security firm, a residential A/V firm, and a commercial security and A/V firm created synergies that improved their overall business.
According to George Hall, president of Questron, the companies -- Homesafe Security Systems (residential security specializing in GE Security systems), Command Performance (a division of Homesafe focused on residential A/V) and Questron (a commercial A/V company that also installed security) -- had worked together for years in small ways with occasional partnering.
"We were friendly competitors for years, and we worked together on some projects. We just started talking, and we realized if we could put this merger together, the resulting company would be very diversified," explained Hall.
Hall worked with HomeSafe's president Stuart Forchheimer (also head of Command Performance) to create the merger. Today's they're merged under the umbrella company HS Technology Group, and they've become a strong regional player. Together, the companies comprise HS Technology Group and serve the middle core of the Eastern United States, including Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Even before the merger, these were no small firms. Both companies -- Homesafe and Questron -- had found themselves on CE Pro magazine's top 100 integrators lists. Since the merger closed in February 2009, they've found direct benefits, and according to Hall, it's not just because bigger is better. The A/V companies -- Questron and Command Performance -- were able to share expertise, something that also happened in the commercial and residential security business between Homesafe and Questron. They found that cross-training of some staff members was a benefit too.
At the management level, there was a lot to be learned from bringing together different management teams into a collaborative, merged environment. Hall said that with 15 years of business behind Homesafe, he immediately could learn a lot from the Homesafe team.
"The merger has been fantastic; the management teams have gotten better and the result is that we have a stronger management team," explained Hall. "They shared what they've experienced over 15 years. Sharing ideas has helped us all be more efficient. Our resources have just really doubled."
Such a merger also saves on overhead and operational expenses, notes Hall, but he says that shouldn't be the sole reason to do any merger in our industry. "You really have to good complements [in the companies to be merged]."
Along the way, they've both focused on their core business; in Questron's case, they recently finished a showcase project in East Baltimore where they worked on a construction project that converted an historic brewery into offices for Humanim -- a company which focuses on workforce placement, assistance services and training for persons with disabilities. Questron did all of the audio-visual components for the project, which also meant having to design and install the solutions so that they treaded lightly on the structure of the historic American Brewery building.
Today, that kind of high-level project is just one of the different services that HS Technology Group can provide through its Questron, Homesafe and Command Performance units. And that, it seems, was the goal of diversifying all along.