Evergreen looks for season-long prosperity

Fire installation company seeks to stable yearly revenue by focusing on commercial contracts
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

TACOMA, Wash. - Having doubled its revenue every year since it started, Evergreen Fire & Security is branching out beyond its government fire contracts and working to build the commercial side of the business.

Founded in May 2000, Evergreen began with a focus on federal government contracting, particularly fire alarm and security work on military bases. In 2003, the company was able to get on the U.S. General Services Administration schedule and increase its workload.

With government contracts accounting for 75 percent of the company’s overall revenue, Evergreen wants to increase the amount of commercial work it handles. By balancing the types of contracts it pursues, this will help stabilize future growth.

The GSA handles the acquisition of buildings, products and services for the federal government. The organization’s reach extends to 2,000 communities, 400,000 facilities and more than one million federal workers.

By being on the schedule, the company’s services are available on a pre-negotiated basis and can be authorized in a matter of days. According to the GSA, if a company is not on the schedule, it could take up to 12 months to receive approval, rather than an average of 15 days.

“It cuts down on paperwork,” said John Forslin Jr., co-founder and vice president at Evergreen, who oversees finance and day-to-day activities. “We do quite a bit of work on the GSA schedule.”

Evergreen’s early success might be hard to match in the future, according to Forslin, considering there is a finite amount of government work to be found. And considering where the company is located, it will have to branch out to new locations through the country to expand its commercial business, overall.

“Right now, on the federal government side, our growth has been limited to finding capable technicians who can work alone, away from our home office,” said Troy Paddock, co-founder and vice president at the company.

Based here, Evergreen employs 45 with branch offices in locations where it has completed work for the government: Fort Lewis, Wash., Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., and Fort Richardson, Alaska.

“I think with the size we are now, it’s unrealistic to keep this growth,” said Forslin. That said, Evergreen executives will keep their eyes open for new opportunities and make sure its revenue continues to increase.

Revenue goals for this year, on the low end, according to Forslin, are between 25 percent to 30 percent against 2004 undisclosed figures. In order to hit this mark, the company has identified opportunities within its government and commercial work to capitalize on.

“Last year, we decided to expand into access control and CCTV and hired a sales engineer full time,” said Forslin. “Every building needs fire; once you’re in with fire, access control and CCTV is an easy sell.”

Paddock oversees commercial work for the company, particularly in the western region of Washington state.