Copperstate Technologies rebounds with GSA listing

Fire firm emerges reinvigorated from bankrupt parent Intellisec
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Thursday, January 1, 2004

GLENDALE, Ariz. - A fire protection firm here has become one of only a handful of fire companies in the Southwest to secure what company officials expect will be a lucrative General Services Administration schedule, less than a year and a half after being bought out of bankruptcy from its failing parent company.

Copperstate Technologies, a full-service fire alarm and communications company, estimates that its revenue from federal contracts will jump from 25 to 30 percent of its current revenues of $7 million to more than 40 percent of revenues in 2004. This year, President Tim Snow said he expects revenues to grow to between $8.5 million and $10 million, in part due to the GSA listing but also to Copperstate’s reinvigorated position in the market.

“We knew that the fire and life safety markets in Arizona were very open to growth and that the (holding company) was not really supporting that growth opportunity,” Snow said. “By us grabbing that up, it allowed us to maximize the market here.”

Snow, who founded the company in 1987, known then as Copperstate Fire Protection, sold Copperstate to Intellisec Holdings in late 2000. That company, which owned other companies in the fire and security arena, with the majority of them in its home state of California, declared bankruptcy in early 2002. Snow bought Copperstate out of bankruptcy in August of that year and quickly grew its work backlog from $1.5 million to more than $3 million at the end of 2002.

During its reemergence from Intellisec, Copperstate also branched into offering commercial communications systems and became a Nortel Networks installer. That distributorship, said Jeannie Morris, communications account manager for Copperstate, helped the company to become a full-service commercial installer and grow its employee base from 36 to 60.

“Nortel doesn’t have another life safety company in their portfolio,” she said.

Combined with Copperstate’s status as a Notifier distributor, a manufacturer that Copperstate has been affiliated with since 1988, the new GSA schedule is creating opportunities from both inside and outside the state. Copperstate has four locations in Arizona but is able to service projects farther afield, such as a large upgrade at a U.S. Navy facility in San Diego.

The company is only one of five companies in the U.S. to be awarded a five-year commitment from Notifier for its products for the GSA schedule.