Until recently, American Integrated Security Group (AISG) President and CTO Levy Acs was content to avoid the spotlight. After all, his company was still emerging from its infancy and was trying to gain a foothold with the markets it was targeting. “We were the stealth company, running under the radar nice and quietly,” Acs admits.
Following two straight years of phenomenal growth, the College Point, N.Y.-based firm has caught the attention of so many end-users and fellow integrators that it can no longer maintain a low profile. The growth over the past year in particular was so steep that AISG has risen from No. 4 last year to the top of SD&I’s 2014 Fast50, and the company can now call itself the fastest-growing security dealer/integrator in North America.
“We’ve got the start, so let’s see where we end up,” Acs says. “I hope we become one of the biggest integrators in the U.S.”
The goal may be lofty, but if the past few years are any indication, Acs and AISG could very well become the company he envisions, thanks to a customer-first attitude while targeting key vertical markets where AISG has tremendous expertise on its side.
The First Steps
Acs co-founded AISG in 2007 with CEO Avi Jacobi following an 11-year career at Honeywell in the gaming security industry. “It was a lot of travel,” Acs recalls. “It got to a point that my wife said that either you travel or you stay home with us — make a choice. So I decided to stop the travel and (Jacobi and I) launched AISG.”
Acs was committed to building a service-oriented company where customer support and service — from the initial design stages all the way through implementation and continued monitoring — was the top priority. “Through my years at the casinos, I realized that anybody can install a camera and be great at installations, but then they disappear,” Acs says. “So that service aspect was constantly in my ear from all the customers that I was dealing with when I was at Honeywell — they would say ‘look at that dealer, they installed my system and then they disappeared, I don’t see them anymore.’
"So I knew there was a need for true service-oriented companies that would be there for the customer,” Acs continues. “That was my goal in creating the company, and that’s what we do best, service. That is our differentiator. The true need for a company is after the installation, when everything is done — that’s when they need the training, the constant help. When something happens, you have to be there for them to support them the next day or next hour to make sure the system is up and running.”
The catch is, most end-users can hear you tell them that your company is all about customer service, but for them, seeing is believing. Until you have proof, you are just a lot of talk. “In the beginning, everyone was asking, who is AISG? Yeah I know Levy, he is a great guy, but should I trust him? Will he still be in business next year? Everybody was waiting for us to see if we would still be here next year,” Acs explains. “So we planted a lot of seeds through the years in 2007, ’08 and ’09, and really that’s when it started to grow and pick up.”
The Launching Point
One of the most important seeds that Acs planted was with retailer Burlington Coat Factory. It started with one store here and there, replacing DVRs and performing other small security jobs. “As they tested our abilities through the years, slowly we got to a point where they started trusting us,” Acs says. “(In 2011) they approached us and said, ‘We are going to change everything to IP, are you interested?’ Well, of course we were interested, so we put some talent together and we got the contract.”
That contract, in fact, enabled AISG to become the exclusive security integrator for the retailer’s more than 500 stores under the Burlington Coat Factory, Cohoes Fashions, Super Baby Depot, MJM Designer Shoes and Burlington Shoes names. The average store size is approximately 80,000 square feet.