Integrator Connection: Integrated Fire & Security Solutions Inc.

With Rob Hile, the former senior director of enterprise security solutions at Siemens, taking over the CEO position in April, Florida-based systems integrator Integrated Fire & Security Solutions Inc. (IFSS) is planning to grow deeper in its Florida roots and expand regionally. The company, which has its operational headquarters in Fort Myers, Fla., currently operates branch locations in Key West, Miami and Jacksonville, and just recently signed a lease for office space in Tampa that will eventually become the corporate headquarters.

The company is a family-owned mid-sized regional player with 30 employees, and offers IT, security and fire solutions. It was founded by John Peterson, who still owns the firm and works as the chief operating officer. His son Justin Peterson is the current President and directs operations. The firm holds licenses in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and have worked on federal projects out of those states as well.

"Our plan is to grow the company into a super-regional over the next five years," Hile said. Hile said the ability of IFSS to offer IT services and infrastructure along with security and fire detection solutions is key to the long-term growth of the company – especially since IP video is among the firm's solution offerings. In speaking with customers, Hile said that he's found that being able to offer the three-legged stool approach -- IT infrastructure, fire and security -- often gets the company in the door with projects that can grow. He cites the example of IFSS' work with one condominium project; it started with video surveillance but is expanding into the IT network infrastructure for the building as well. Fire also has been a strong lead for the company, and he said many end users haven't upgraded fire alarm and notification systems in years and are being pressed to do those upgrades now by AHJs – and that means that when IFSS offers fire, they can also assess the user's needs for access, video surveillance, network infrastructure, mass notification and more.

The company has been a strong adopter of Honeywell product offerings, but also provides solutions from a number of key industry vendors, including Lenel, Hirsch, Software House and others, making them what Hile calls a "product agnostic integrator". Their solutions tend to be directed toward a customer base that aligns with critical infrastructure, such as the Key West airport, but which includes a broad range of clients--from public works to school districts, municipalities, airports and other enterprise clients and facilities.

Going forward, IFSS, like so many systems integrators, is eyeing the growth of hosted solution offerings such as hosted video surveillance and hosted access control, and the company has its business and technical team reviewing solutions like SureView Systems' Immix offering and other robust hosted security platforms. The firm plans to outsource their hosting (they already outsource their alarm monitoring accounts) so that they can focus on their core area of engaging their customer.

Engaging with the customers is something that Hile says really attracted him to IFSS. Coming over from very large integration firms (he was at Adesta before taking on his recent role at Siemens), he said it was refreshing to be back at a smaller firm where he could really touch the customers. That fit perfectly with IFSS owner John Peterson's "customer centric" model.

"It allows us to get really close to our customers -- to go in and sell and manage services for those customers and have those really close-knit relationships with them," Hile said. That ties in well with the "cradle-to-grave design build approach" that IFSS is able to bring to the table since it offers the IT and network infrastructure solutions in addition to core staples of security and fire detection.

"It feels good to go out and have a direct impact to the customers," Hile said. "It's refreshing to join a small and nimble entrepreneurial business. It's just a really cool company."

Data Point: IFSS
Company name: Integrated Fire and Security Solutions
Website: www.ifssi.com
HQ location: Fort Myers, Florida
Principals: Robert Hile, CEO; John Peterson, COO; Justin Peterson, President
Year founded: 2006
Number of employees: 30
Residential/Commercial split: 5% residential/95% commercial
Top 5 technology brands sold: Axis Communications, Hirsch, Lenel, Milestone, Notifier by Honeywell

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