Electrical contractor takes on hotel

Monday, July 1, 2002

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.-An electrical contractor here with a fire alarm installation division is tackling the fire system installation at a 12-story hotel being built as part of a new convention center, a project conducted in conjunction with fire manufacturer Gamewell.

For installer United Electric of Myrtle Beach, the Radisson hotel at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center is a $2.5 million project, which encompasses all the electrical work as well as the installation of Gamewell's Flex 632 Addressable system with voice evacuation. In all, the hotel will have 402 units and will have attached a six-story parking garage, totaling about 380,000 square feet, said Paul Griffin, manager of United Electric's fire alarm division. The hotel is scheduled to be completed in February of 2003.

United's fire division formed three years ago to bring that part of the installation job in-house and make the company easier to market to contractors with the added services.
"One of the benefits general contractors enjoy most is the flexibility an in-house fire alarm division brings to every project," Griffin said.

The fire alarm division also handles security and other low voltage installations as well. United has seen its requests for CCTV and access control systems step up in recent months, he said. This division employees five installers who assist United Electric in about six high-rise installations a year.

"In the last couple of buildings, people have requested prices on the security piece," Griffin said.

One other aspect of United's operations that also prove attractive to customers is a service, inspection and testing arm that will take over the service contract after the manufacturer's warranty of one year. Not one customer has elected to decline this service, Griffin said.

In the hotel project, the Gamewell system will monitor the building and evacuate occupants in a floor-above floor-below format, Griffin said. The atrium and the hotel corridors will receive smoke control fans and dampers, also controlled by the fire system for smoke removal during evacuations.

The building's sprinkler systems and fire pump operation, along with all other fire signal activity, will be monitored by Emergency 24. United Electric uses that company exclusively for monitoring its installed base, Griffin said.

United Electric signed on with Gamewell about a year ago, according to Ken Beeson, vice president of sales for the Ashland, Mass.-based company, who is actively looking to sign on new distributors in some areas of the country.

"We won't saturate the marketplace," Beeson said. "If we have an area where two or three people are doing a reasonable job and getting reasonable market share" then the company will not likely pursue additional leads in that area.