The SD&I Fast50

March 20, 2012
The full report on winners of the 2012 SD&I Fast50: America's Fastest Growing Systems Integrators

The movers and shakers in systems solutions contracting are here in the pages of SD&I magazine.

The SD&I Fast50 recognizes those firms who have grown significantly over the last three years. On these pages we have assembled three listings: the overall ranking based on highest percentage of growth; ranking by revenue growth; and ranking by percentage growth. These rankings and their associated formulas create a level playing field, so both large and small companies can strut their stuff and be recognized.

Part of the design of this program was not only to recognize the entire landscape of the systems solutions contracting environment—but to find out what it takes to grow a company. We also asked what vertical markets they work in and which ones they anticipate growth. We asked their business mix of residential and commercial, whether or not they had a central station, if they were public or private and if they had any recent mergers, as well as the number of employees.

The results were surprising and gratifying. We found 97 percent out of the total universe that submitted entries were private companies. The majority focused their businesses on the commercial market and a much smaller percentage had merged their business with another over the last several years. Education and healthcare were cited as two of the fastest growing vertical markets. To find other statistics, check out the ‘Factoids’ and charts on these pages.

When we launched the program, we wondered how the long-winded recession would affect the entrants, or restrict their submissions. What we found was that many said they were finding more work on their books than ever. One company, R.J. Beck Protective Systems Inc., based in Norwalk, Ohio, said that in their 32 years of business they have always had growth. “But when we had the worst economic times we have had our best years and largest growth of the company,” said Bob Beck, president.

Top ranked company: Securityhunter Inc.

Our top ranked company was Securityhunter Inc., based in Baltimore, a firm fine-focused on the government vertical market, according to Michael S. Rogers, PSP, CPP and chief executive officer. The company has worked hard to carve this niche in the marketplace, he added. “Securityhunter has been recognized by the federal government as a best value provider of both physical and logical access control solutions,” said Rogers.

“We were awarded a $500mm blanket purchase agreement to provide these services both nationwide and overseas.” Currently, hundreds of federal facilities are being secured by Securityhunter. Projections for growth in 2012 are expected to be in excess of 200 percent as the company leverages its strategic market position, he said. Even more impressive: It’s a company of eleven employees.

I.K.E. Electrical Corp., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., was our number two company in the overall ranking position, and is headed by Steven H. Rothman, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Established in 1983, IKE Electrical Corporation (I.K.E.) is licensed in the five boroughs of New York, New Jersey, Westchester, Orange and Rockland County. The company also operates IBMS Services LLC, focusing on integrated building management services.

“I.K.E. Electrical Corp. is unique in its ability to combine its expertise in high voltage for new construction and renovations, with its ability to provide IT solutions, co-generation of electricity, LEED Solutions and low voltage Solutions that include access control, video camera surveillance, fire alarms and monitoring, telecommunication solutions, virtual maintenance solutions, remote utility meter reading and tenant billing, plus a support Help Desk for our clients,” said Rothman.

“We offer a single source, total solution for general contractors and that is what is responsible for our continued fast growth in the New York, New Jersey, Westchester County and Hudson Valley marketplaces.”

Deep and diverse ranked companies

The SD&I Fast50 ranking is quite diverse, illustrated not only by the top two companies—but throughout. There are traditional alarm installing companies, systems integrators and more of the IT VAR type of companies. Snug in the number three overall ranking is Netech Corporation, Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1996, James Engen started Netech with five employees. Less than two decades later, Netech has eight offices in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin and more than 200 employees. The company delivers network system, data center, physical security and media solutions to a wide range of customers.

Nearly five years ago, the leadership at Netech Corp., built out a physical security business unit. Today, that unit accounts for nearly 10 percent of Netech’s $152 million in sales revenue and is a robust part of the solutions provider’s success.

Netech has grown steadily by taking its expertise around Cisco’s line card and building a solid networking business. About 12 years ago, Netech realized that convergence was going to forever alter the telephony market as voice joined data in the same environment. It was then the company went to work offering unified communication solutions to every customer it served, and today, that unified communication accounts for nearly 40 percent of revenue sales.

Then about six years ago, they saw another converging technology opportunity with physical security. “We thought video surveillance and access control had similar potential as telephony,” said Jim Engen, Netech founder and chief executive officer.   “We understood our customers were going to take cameras and access panels and put them on the network and we wanted to be in the right place to take advantage of that.” From there, Netech took two major steps: We sought out and hired an expert in physical security and threw our hat in the ring with a handful of top vendors. The success of that decision has been reflected in solid, steady growth.”

Top 10 comment on fast growth

Each of the companies in the SD&I Fast50 are to be congratulated for helping solidify what has become a diverse industry. Here’s what some of the others had to say on what they attribute to their fast growth:

Bonneville Contracting & Technology Group Inc…“Our growth has always been spurred by our past. It's about reputation. The most significant growth we've experience lately is in the Service and Maintenance segment of the business. The most impactful factor in this growth has been our ability to deliver world-class service where other integrators have failed to even cut the mustard. We put nothing in front of customer delight. This creates a fast-moving word-of-mouth advertising machine that brings new opportunities. With each new customer we take the first chance to impress and we turn it into a positive comment on the customer that recommended us. That way they both continue to recommend.”—Hector Sanchez, business development manager

X7 Systems Integration...X7 recognizes the security integration market is in the midst of a significant evolution that has left many security end-users with limited options when deploying a security management platform across their enterprise.  Either do business with a monolithic conglomerate with a business unit titled ‘Security Division,’ or a small security firm that lacks the capabilities and past performance to successfully design, build and support comprehensive security management initiatives.  Today’s discerning security client wants a true partner who is large enough t to support their projects, but sized to offer attentive service.   X7 is the solution for these clients.  X7 offers the advantages of an independent integrator (agility, personal attention to the customer and quality, local ownership and commitment) coupled with the expertise, capabilities, and demonstrated past performance necessary to successfully execute enterprise security management programs.  For those tasked with securing the nation’s most high-profile projects and mission-critical facilities, their trusted security partner is X7 Systems Integration.”—Derek Radoski, CPP and vice president  Editor’s note: X7 recently rebranded from the name Orion and hasn’t missed a beat.   

Sigma STS 360…“We are pleased to attribute our growth to myriad strategic decisions we’ve made in forecasting the market and executing our plans at the right moments.  Specifically in 2008 STS reached our goal of reversing the ratio of analog versus IP video surveillance from 70 percent analog the previous year to 75 percent IP (now STS is 95 percent IP).  This was accomplished by finding the right partners and personnel to execute the internal changes necessary to make this happen, including changing management around to accommodate the skill sets required to go to market and pursue this strategy.  While the economic downturn was spiraling out of control and people were losing their jobs left and right in the U.S., STS was able to leverage our government/education vertical market strategies and continue to grow exponentially.”—Jessica Clark, vice president and chief technology officer 

Koorsen Security Technology…“Koorsen Security Technology is known as a company that can deliver on complex integration projects. Our highly trained, quality people are our most valued asset and have been the reason we have grown quickly. Our close relationship with quality manufacturers who support our efforts in the field with great products, solid sales and technical people and the willingness to work with us to meet and exceed our clients expectations has also been a major contributor to our growth.We concentrate on listening to what our client's needs are and designing a solution that addresses and meets those needs. We execute the installation in a way that allows us to form a long term relationship with each client. Koorsen Security Technology is a proud member of Security-Net, a global provider of security integration services.”—Skip Sampson, vice president

Security Networks…“Security Networks' growth of over 35 percent in 2011 has come exclusively from expansion in our affiliate dealer program. We have over 200 active affiliates who market under the Security Networks umbrella installing Security Networks’ approved equipment and services. After the account has been activated, we provide the customer alarm monitoring and warranty services through our fully redundant five diamond rated UL Certified Central Station. The November 2010 acquisition by Oak Hill Capital has provided the strength for our funding program to expand to the west coast of the United States and into Puerto Rico, adding authorized affiliates in AZ, CA, CO, ID, KS, MO, NE, NV, UT, and WA as well as thousands more valued customers.” —Gary Franklyn, vice president of Business Development

Northland Control Systems Inc....“Northland's mantra is simple, ‘Excellence in Everything We Do.’ To strive for such excellence, we will do what it takes to get the job done, take on difficult challenges and succeed and are honorable in always choosing to do the right thing. The success of our growth stems from our philosophy and how we have used it to guide how we think about our customers, how we do business internally and how we select the tools and relationships we work with on a daily basis. Our perspective combined with a highly qualified and dedicated staff is our recipe for success and growth. We are trusted to get the job done no matter what. Through word-of-mouth our elite list of customers has rewarded us with phenomenal growth and ever-greater challenges. We are determined to continue to surprise them, ourselves and the industry.” —Pierre Trapanese, chief executive officer

Convergint Technologies LLC….“Convergint’s growth can be attributed to our focus on service, strong leadership throughout all field offices and a culture that empowers people and allows them to grow and have fun.  From day one, Convergint has built a service based culture throughout the organization.  Service is a mindset that must be bought into by all colleagues to be successful.  Service also requires a significant investment in dedicated people, technology and processes.  Another key to Convergint’s growth has been the leadership throughout the organization.  Without this effective leadership it is difficult to attract and develop the best talent in the industry.  A third contributor to Convergint’s success are our colleagues who are responsible for delivering customer solutions and services.  We look for colleagues who are not afraid to work hard, always looking to better their skills, communicate well with customers, work in a team atmosphere and have fun on a daily basis.”—Dan Moceri, chairman and chief executive officer 

Please check out the listings on these pages and other ‘why we grew’ snippets and congratulate these companies. We look forward to having you in the 2013 ranking.

Why we grew…Micro Security Systems Integration Inc. “First and foremost, is our longevity in the security industry within our region. As a licensed contractor with over 20 years of discipline in the design/build and service of enterprise electronic security systems, trust and dependability, along with a successful track record, is easily verifiable.”Stephen De Molina, President                                  

Why we grew….The Security Girl “Our growth can be attributed to our social media and networking programs.  We created The Security Girl (American Fire & Security) as a brand after I realized that many of the people I network with had trouble remembering my name but could associate me with The Security Girl.  The use of The Security Girl on social media in conjunction with our word of mouth networking programs launched our sales growth.”—Erica Wood, chief operating officer

Why we grew…G4S Technology, formerly Adesta “We integrate some of the most complex security and communications systems in the industry today. We believe the fast growth of our company, including substantial increases in gross revenues, employee headcount and new projects, can be attributed to our strategy of providing every customer with a total solution for all their security and technology convergence needs.”—Colleen Habrock, marketing director

Why we grew…AVS Systems Inc.“We attribute AVS’s growth to target marketing, networking and newsletters. Know your customers, and gain their trust.”—Jeff Martin, owner

Why we grew…Ackerman Security Systems “Ackerman Security Systems has the natural tendency to increase the number of performance metrics that we regularly use.  We have taken a lot of time creating tracking systems from the ground up in lieu of utilizing ‘spreadsheet mentality.’ We integrate our financial, customer, operational and outside data and push it into a single strategically driven resource for measuring total Commercial business performance. We believe in performance metrics to manage our business. Another attribute to our growth is making sure the right goals are set and obtaining key information that is linked to the company strategy.”—Mike Sandes, vice president

Why we grew…CONTAVA Inc. “Our success can be attributed to a number of factors.  We are, first and foremost, a customer committed company.  The technologies we work with are new and demanding to deliver.  We pay attention to detail, lead with our strengths and always commit to completion.  It’s our promise to the customer.  Lastly, CONTAVA is a company that respects and appreciates its employees, and is committed to employee development, training and advancement.  When our work ethic and positive attitude is combined with fun and humor every day, we’re unstoppable.”—Morris Chynoweth
Vice President Corporate Development

 Why we grew…Security Pros LLC “We can directly attribute our growth to our overall approach to working with our customers and our strategic partnerships.  We don’t simply design and sell solutions.  Our approach starts with training and an understanding the ever changing market we live and work in.  Our customers are looking to us to provide the right solution the first time.” —Chris Gilbert, founder and president

Why we grew…Go Security Solutions “Go Security Solutions is in the business of solving clients' problems when it comes to securing their most important assets. Go Security has been able to grow and prosper for one reason: Go Security Solutions leads with quality. Our clients demand it and we expect it of each other. We owe our ability to succeed in this very competitive space, and to grow during a time of economic downturn, to the quality of product and service we bring to our clients.” —Mike Kotwicki, managing partner

Why we grew…Advanced Cabling Systems “Two things have attributed to the growth at Advanced Cabling over the past three years.  First, we have added products to our offerings, such as AV and nurse call, that complement our current product set and allow us to continue to be a single point of contract for our clients in terms of building technology and life safety.  Additionally, we have added a dedicated engineering and CADD department to our organization.  This differentiates us as more of a professional services provider and not just a low price installer.  Finally, we have added IT staff over the past three years.  We have CICSO certified technicians on-staff that understand networking principles.  This has allowed us to stay a step ahead and differentiate ourselves as we help our clients migrated to an IP-based world.” —Michael Kennedy RCDD/NTS, president

Why we grew…Will Electronics “I attribute our growth to adapting to the changing video markets from analog to IP video platforms. We have been an analog video integration company for over 30+ years and roughly about 4 years ago starting offering IP video platforms. Currently do about 70% of our video installations are all IP video based platforms. Also using our key manufacturer's product offerings, we able to offer to our customers truly integrated security platforms that include the video surveillance and access control systems in one unified platform.”—Jeff Byrd, VSSD II, Sales Manager