Connected Home Technologies opens in Iowa

Thursday, November 1, 2007

MUSCATINE, Iowa--When JJ Koehler decided to expand his commercial security business into residential security and home automation, he figured it would take six months or more before people discovered the Connected Home Technology showroom he opened in a historic shopping district here in July.
"That was not the case at all. No sooner had we put the signs up than people found us," he said.
Koehler is a firm believer in the home automation trend. He set up his showroom to look like a living room. "I wanted it to be a relaxing environment where people can come in and hear, touch and feel the products," he said. "I want them to spend 20 to 30 minutes in a one-on-one setting where we can answer their questions," Koehler explained.
Koehler's founded his commercial security business, FSS, with his wife, Barb, and three others in 2002. The group tossed around names such as Finest Sound Security and Finer Security Systems and settled simply on the letters "FSS," Koehler said.
FSS has grown about 30 to 40 percent annually and does about a half million in annual sales. FSS started out doing CCTV and audio. It's done commercial surveillance and security systems for customers such as schools and a local airport, and has also done access control, fire and burglar alarms.
Over the years, many of his commercial customers, and some homebuilders, have asked FSS to do residential work. Last year, Koehler decided "there was enough call for us to concentrate on this and direct [some of our] efforts to residential." FSS is based in nearby Illinois City, but the Connected Home Technology office here also acts as a showroom for FSS commercial products.
Koehler expects his residential business to become as big as his commercial business. He's also starting to branch out into a third business division: digital signage. He got the idea to sell digital signage products at ISC West last year. The products have been hugely successful so far, he said, and they're easy to integrate with other technologies. Koehler sees it as an additional product to sell to existing customers and a "way in the door" to customers, such as malls, that he wouldn't have called on before.