Growth Despite Adversity

For Perimeter Security Group LLC, of Dalton Gardens, Idaho, there was literally a gate to success; and it took gumption to go through the gate and beyond — getting a business rolling in one of the worst economic climates in the past half century. PSG actually started as a sister company to Northwest Fence Company, a gate automation company for upper-end homes in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington.

Despite an awful economy, a major stepping-stone to success was a willingness to take advice from manufacturers and general contractors in order to become experts in their field. "Two things contributed to our success," says Brenda Blood, managing member of PSG. "First, we were able to find a niche, in providing turnkey installations of perimeter security products, and we became passionate as a company to make PSG the experts in our product lines. Second, we developed a training plan to train staff to become experts in iron fabrication, concrete work, excavation and electrical systems, allowing for us to provide the needed turnkey installation of projects.

 "We used to steer away from a project of $2,000,000 — now we look for them," Blood continues. "We took on some large projects for the size of our small company in 2011 and 2012, and we made it the company's focus to use these projects as a company stepping stone. It allowed us the confidence to bid and obtain even larger projects in 2013."

Growth is a hallmark of PSG. Founded in 2008, the company enjoyed a massive boost in gross revenues in 2013, with 219-percent growth over its 2012 numbers. They were ranked #22 in the Fast50 last year. PSG worked on its internal culture of training and continued to expand through systematic steps. "We didn't have such a large leap in terms of one year to another. We have been setting this in motion for several years," Blood says.

Handling the Growth

For PSG, growth was studied. "We identified a niche and pursued turnkey perimeter security projects in the public and private sector," says Donnie Murrell, operations/development. "Our key vendors played a major role in providing the support and education for their products, which allowed us to go after large projects. PSG also increased their bonding capabilities through a strong balance sheet."

In the meantime, PSG quadrupled its employee count from 17 to 63. If there is a secret to getting and retaining good employees, Blood says, it is valuing and growing the workers. "If you focus on peoples' strengths they are more apt to be happy in their position," she says.

To that end, PSG has built a culture around the concept of productive fun. "If we can make employees see ways to be successful, chances are they will stay with us," Blood figures. "We try to evaluate what each individual has as motivation combined with their strengths, so not only do we win, they win."

Since this industry is so specialized, PSG has formulated a culture of training from within. Murrell says a key is providing a clear career path and direction, while maintaining a positive working environment. "We are always working on improving our training methods and providing the necessary resources for our team to do their jobs effectively and efficiently," he says.

 "We try to employ people that have a few of the skill sets required for our industry and then we believe in training on the rest," Blood adds. "If we can show them a few more skills to the trade and also show them how to use them together effectively we can get a lot from one individual."

How it All Started

Blood values enthusiasm and chemistry as components to success. Her father had a partnership in the fence business and she worked there for many years. At one point, she was offered a career managing the sales and marketing programs.

Eventually, Blood saw the opportunity to purchase the partnership's small automation installation business. "I jumped at it," she says. "This company had incredible potential, but the partnership was focused on their other core fence business and it was apparent it would not grow to what it should be."

It was arguably the worst time in two generations to start a business — housing slumped, and with it went the economic success the company had enjoyed. "Right after the purchase of the company, the high-end home market took a turn for the worse," Blood says.

Most of the nation was seeing the same economic issues, and PSG faced an unsavory choice: either let the business sink or create a new business plan. "We identified a needed service in a down economic climate," she explains. "Since I had spent years creating marketing and sales plans, the obvious answer was to shift toward all of the exciting things that I could see coming to life in the industry," Blood says.

That included a growing market for turnkey perimeter security installation for federal, municipal and private projects. The object of the business plan was to provide turnkey installations that include design, layout, excavation, concrete, iron fabrication, while integrating designed barriers into custom access control platforms to meet facility's needs. She leveraged what she had learned from the fence business. "The business was definitely interesting and I enjoyed helping them grow them to nearly double over a 10 year period," Blood says.

Growth Moving Forward

Blood says one key to PSG's success is having a great core staff. "There would be no momentum without our core beliefs and core staff," she says. "Our staff trains others into this culture. We look for people that can see opportunity and don't mind working hard to get there."

It is a challenge keeping systems and procedures current with the growth, Blood says. Currently PSG is standardizing all of its procedures so they can begin opening field offices. "We are in the process of opening our Seattle field office at this time, and we intend for that to happen in various places in the U.S."

 In five years, she says she expects to have a corporate office that will assist multiple U.S. and overseas offices. "Our corporate office will working with our offices across the U.S. to capitalize on their local markets," Murrell says.

Today, PSG's top three verticals are aviation/transportation, critical infrastructure and government/homeland security. "We definitely see the government sector as our main focus of our company's growth," Blood says, adding that the private sector is on her radar as an up and coming market. "We are starting to see more private industry moving to secure facilities," she notes. PSG also plans to focus attention on correctional institutions and petrochemical facilities.

"Providing turn-key installations of integrated access control systems on crash-rated products is what we have built our company on and we are going to take this strategy and grow toward a larger demographic," Blood says. "This is what keeps us excited to be in this industry — we look forward to the changes, but it definitely keeps us on our toes."

Curt Harler is a technology writer and regular contributor to SD&I. Reach him at curt@curtharler.com.

A Closer Look

Company: Perimeter Security Group

Web: www.perimetersecuritygroup.com

HQ: Dalton Gardens, Idaho

Principals: Brenda Blood, president; Donnie Murrell, operations/development

Year founded: 2008

Number of employees: 63

Residential/Commercial split: 80 percent commercial, 20 percent residential

Top technology brands sold\deployed: Delta Scientific, RSSI, B&B RMR, Ameristar, DSX, Hy Security, Doorking, HID, Honeywell, Pelco, digital watchdog, Senstar, Detekion, Altronix and Comnet.

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