FCI hires COO, grows quickly
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--FCI & Associates might be the biggest installation company in the industry that most end users don't know. However, as the largest and oldest security alarm contract company in the United States, FCI has installed just under 600,000 alarm systems and made 1.2 million service calls since its founding in 1979, and is projecting a 300-400 percent increase in revenue over the next 12 months.
Why? Well, said newly installed chief operation officer Michael Buchart, "we've picked up several large contracts with some of the major alarm companies recently," including a newly announced deal with UTC Fire & Security companies Chubb and Counterforce USA. "What we're finding," he continued, "is that the top 10 companies out there are selling systems so fast that they're outstripping their installation capability ... the marketing machine, especially on the residential side of the house, has become very successful for these guys. And they're losing business because they're not able to get these jobs installed in a timely manner. The competitive nature of the business is such that to go much beyond three to five days on installation, you leave yourself open to the competitors coming by, knocking on the door, and saying, 'We can install this tomorrow.'"
The privately held company also does 30 percent of its business in enterprise-level commercial integration, which offers "great gross margin dollars," said Buchart.
How does FCI manage to find and retain the installers, while keeping installation costs low, when the major installation companies are having trouble doing just that? FCI president Dan Fitch said the company is able to "consolidate the installation and service needs of multiple companies in any given market," creating economies of scale that individual companies might not be able to. Further, he said, FCI is not just an installation house. "We will do anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of some clients' installations, and that comes with a turnkey service--scheduling the confirmation, the inventory control, right through to transmitting the online information right into their own internal system."
He said some companies use FCI to expand their operations geographically, as they can market in a community where they don't actually have brick and mortar presence. FCI does the installation, the name-brand alarm company picks up the monitoring contract. This is why FCI sees its growth coming largely from the residential market, said Buchart.