Dynafire: Innovation key to dynamic business

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

CASSELBERRY, Fla.—Dynafire serves commercial and residential customers throughout Florida, one of the states hardest hit by the housing crisis and subsequent economic recession.

Yet the six-year-old company is not only weathering the downturn, but has recently doubled its sales force, according to Dynafire president Ken Hoffmann.

Hoffmann credits the success of Dynafire, which is based here, to hard work and innovation, such as the use of wireless mesh network technology. And in the past couple years the company also has landed contracts for major projects, including the 2 million-square-foot Bonnet Creek convention center and resort complex in Orlando, where Dynafire won a $1.5 million contract to install the fire alarm system. They completed the job about a year ago, using Honeywell fire alarm products with digital voice and smoke control for the complex, which includes two multi-story hotels and 17 restaurants, Hoffmann said.

“Innovation is definitely required for this day and age and I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I have in this past year. I’ve put in a lot of effort,” Hoffmann recently told Security Systems News. “Someone told me a long time ago that the best time to build market share is during a down time. I think we’re doing a very good job at that.”

He said the company, founded in 2004, has 65 employees. Eight are dedicated to sales but all the employees also do some sales, he said. Dynafire has 4,000 customers throughout Florida, many of them commercial accounts such as shopping centers, Hoffmann said.

And about 2,500 of those customers are now served by the company’s wireless mesh network, which Hoffmann says is one of the largest in the country.

“Right now, I’ve basically built a private radio network that covers the entire state of Florida,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I’ve dedicated quite a bit of time to it.”

The technology is an alternative to conveying alarm signals through conventional phone lines, and Hoffmann said it has positioned Dynafire for the future as more and more people abandon their landlines in favor of cell phones. “I’m sure the phone lines are going to go away, but I’m prepared for that,” he said.

Alarm signals also can be conveyed via cellular technology, but Hoffmann said he prefers having his own radio network to cellular because Dynafire runs it. “It’s all under our control…there are no cell phone providers or anything involved,” he said.

He said the radio network has a number of advantages. For one thing, he said, it gets the alarm signal to the central station faster than conventional telephone lines do—in two to three seconds as compared to 45 seconds.

Also, Hoffmann said, use of the radio network technology eliminates the potential that lightning can damage a fire alarm panel through phone lines. “That’s particularly important in Florida where there are such lightning issues,” Hoffmann said.

In addition, he said, the technology “helps build RMR fast.” Although his monthly billing fees are higher than what other fire alarm companies charge in the market—sometimes more than double the typical fee because he’s also billing to help pay for his network—his customers save money because they don’t have to pay for phone lines, Hoffmann said.

“Dynafire is doing well or at least holding its own through innovation,” he said.