AAA gets new digs

Two major areas of growth are monitoring center and customer care
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Sunday, October 1, 2006

WINNIPEG, Manitoba--For more than 25 years, AAA Alarm Systems has been in the same building, but last year, after the company experienced a growth spurt by acquiring more than 55,000 accounts in February, the company knew a move would be the next step.
"We knew that if we kept on that [acquisition] road," the company would outgrow the facility, "so we really needed to start again from scratch," said Kim Schellenberg, the monitoring center director who also served as project manager for the construction of the new facility.
AAA Alarm searched for a location where they could plan the new facility from the ground up, and found a site that was about to be developed into a business park.
"We could make the modifications as it was being built," Schellenberg said. "So, it would fit our needs."
With 30 percent more space, AAA Alarm can continue to aggressively hunt for acquisitions. "We couldn't even find another area to place a person," Schellenberg said.
Being a facility that is open 24 hours, AAA Alarm also wanted to create an open concept environment comfortable for staff, Schellenberg said. "The way we set up the infrastructure allows us to go to the next unit easily. We wanted to make sure that common areas are very important," she added. "It is where people can meet and chat because the monitoring center often gets left behind as it is in a separate area." The previous location "didn't have a lunchroom or kitchen area. Now we have a separate common area for all staff, which is important to try to heighten the community of the staff," Schellenberg said.
The facility also houses AAA Alarm's corporate headquarters, which provides support for its four branches throughout Canada.
"We have a very good philosophy of supporting internal customers and we wanted to make sure that was laid out properly as well," she added.
Once the facility was chosen, Schellenberg met weekly with the telco team to make sure the lines were in place, an IT infrastructure team to ensure that the system was set up properly, and a property services group to develop a design that fit with the company's mission.
"We started at a high level and as we evolved the other teams, we chucked down each problem every week," she said, "so we got way more detailed. And when the switch was over, we made it as seamless as possible."
Another factor that influenced a smooth move was AAA Alarm switching its software from SIMS to Bold Technologies Manitou before the move. "The new Windows-based software allowed us to make an easy transition when we moved--as opposed to the DOS-based system," Schellenberg said.