Fire firm adds Notifier, grows alarm business

Saturday, November 1, 2003

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. - A sprinkler shop here is morphing into a comprehensive fire contractor, thanks in part to its joining the ranks of Notifier’s Engineered Systems Distributor program, a distributorship that company officials expect will kickstart an alarm division already poised for growth.

John W. Polhemus Inc., a company started in 1989 as a sprinkler installer, now expects to see its sales jump from its current level of nearly $9 million for 2003 to nearly $15 million, partly as a result of the Notifier distributorship. At press time, the group had already purchased more than $70,000 of Notifier product, nearly doubling its quota for the year. The quota was pro-rated for 2003 since the company joined as an ESD two months ago.

While sprinkler installs still make up about 60 percent of John W. Polhemus’ revenues, company officials said that dynamic is likely to change over the next few years, as the alarm division becomes a more robust portion of company operations.

“Eventually, I’d like to see fire alarms make up 50 percent of our revenues,” said Bryan Polhemus, president of the company and son of its founder and namesake.

The Notifier distributorship is expected to be such a boon to revenues because many area contractors spec out the manufacturer’s product for projects from schools, churches, commercial and municipal buildings, the prime market for a company of John W. Polhemus’s size, company officials said.

John W. Polhemus’ alarm division also encompasses more than 1,000 residential burglar accounts, which are monitored at Central One in Boca Raton. That division started in the mid 1990s, with the addition of Jerold Davidson, operations manager for the alarm division.

While overall the company’s employee complement has grown from 45 employees in early 2001 to more than 100 full-time people, the alarm division’s complement is still small, at 12 service and installation technicians. The company has a fleet of about 50 service trucks.

“By next year, we will have double or triple the amount of people,” Davidson said. “We are now starting also to bring on board different electrical people who need our services.”

John W. Polhemus, which covers five Florida counties from its headquarters here and a location in Sebastian, is looking at opening a new office in either Boca Raton or Fort Lauderdale, through an acquisition or through internal growth. The company is also looking at a branch near Marathon Key in the Florida Keys, Bryan Polhemus said.