Dealers who flock to fire find RMR

Monday, December 1, 2008

NEW YORK--Honeywell fire officials were not surprised to see a lot of fire-curious security installers checking out their booths at ISC East this year. Security installers expanding into fire is a trend that’s accelerated in the last year, they say.

Ron Ross has owned Vigilante Security of Lathrup Village, Mich., for 30 years. About one year ago, Ross decided to “move away from off-the-shelf fire alarm equipment” and become a Gamewell distributor. He retrained several of his 63 employees and added a few new employees.

Vigilante is both an installing dealer with a central station and a distributor of Gamewell products. That means that in addition to his own fire jobs, he sells fire alarm components to electrical contractors for them to install (generally these jobs are substantially larger than the jobs that Vigilante would take on itself). Vigilante submits the documentation to the AHJ for permits, programs the systems, and in many instances, Ross also engineers the drawings. “The parts-and-smarts portion of the business really took off,” he said.

He wouldn’t name numbers, but Ross said becoming a Gamewell distributor “significantly increased our revenues.”

Al Martucci has run his three-person family business, A.M.I. Lock & Alarm Service of Holbrook, N.Y., since 1985. He first got into fire five years ago because customers were asking for it. Today, fire accounts for 50 percent of his business. Martucci remembers one of his first major fire jobs, an 18-store shopping center: “It was good money and we fell into the job so we took it, but we were a little overwhelmed.” John Dewey of Fire-Lite helped him construct a “scale model of the project in my garage” and walked him through the installation of the addressable system.

Today, Martucci, and his son and business partner A.J., are often called on in Fire-Lite training courses to help others who are now entering the fire business.

“The move into fire provided immediate income, RMR and the inspections bring in a lot of money,” Martucci said. “That’s what keeps us busy-when business is slow, we schedule inspections.”