Diversified Fire expands as competitors cut-back

The fire firm adds two offices and enlarges one to include a sprinkler fabrication shop
Friday, March 1, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-At a time when many of its competitors are cutting back on staff, Diversified Fire Protection is expanding -- opening offices in two new locations and adding a sprinkler fabrication shop in its recently relocated Wilmington, N.C. branch.

The growth of the full service fire protection firm comes as no surprise to owner John Wheeler, III, who started the company seven years ago.

"I think it's because we're on the cutting edge of technology and I believe we have the most experienced engineering department than any other fire company down here," said Wheeler, president of Diversified Fire, based here. "We're able to provide competitive costs to building developers and that has enabled us to grow our sales over the last few years."

Growth for the company has meant a new location in Raleigh, N.C. and the company's first foray into Virginia with a location in Richmond. The Virginia location was added in response to requests from contractors located in that area who did business with Diversified Fire.

The company has followed the two additional locations last year with a move to a larger office in Wilmington, N.C. at the beginning of this year. Diversified Fire has also added fire extinguisher services at its headquarters here and in Raleigh.

With new and larger offices in hand and additional services, Wheeler said the four location Diversified Fire company is poised for continued growth. The company currently does $15 million a year in business, but is "anticipating $21 to $23 million in sales for the year 2002," said Wheeler.

For Diversified Fire, the Wilmington location now boasts its own sprinkler fabrication shop. Previously the company only operated a fabrication shop in Charlotte, N.C. and had to rely on another fabrication company to pre-mark the sprinkler parts.

"Our engineers would sit down and design the system and per our specifications we would send it to a fabrication company," said Kevin Bailey, fire alarm manager for the Wilmington Division, which now resides in an approximately 25,000 square foot building. "It gives us better opportunity for scheduling. We're not relying on somebody else's timetable. We can rely on our own."

To gear up for the move to the new location in Wilmington, the company increased staffing by about 35 percent. Additional employees will soon be added in Raleigh, N.C. and Richmond, Va., over the next several months.

Wheeler said the company may take its full-service approach to fire to additional markets in Virginia, such as Virginia Beach and Roanoke. One of those locations could open later this year, he said.