Getting off the island: American security systems' new HQ

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

NEW YORK--Expanding into the fire business and plans for a state-of-the-art showroom led American Security Systems to make its fourth move in 25 years, this time out of Manhattan to a "real corporate headquarters" here in Queens, said president Larry Dolin.
"We needed more office space and more space to move service vehicles in and out. We were getting tickets right and left," said Dolin.
The 60-employee company relocated to its new 10,000-square-foot building in November. Construction of a new showroom, and other finishing touches are ongoing.
The company grossed $7 million last year and Dolin projects a 10- to 15-percent increase in that figure for this fiscal year, which ends in September. Lines of business include fire, CCTV, access control, burglar and telephone entry systems.
Starting with high-end residential projects for "movie stars and dignitaries in Manhattan," the company expanded into high-rise residential and large-scale commercial jobs such as Carnegie Hall and Mt. Sinai Hospital. New York City public housing accounts for 20 percent of its business. "We serve over 900 public housing buildings in New York," Dolin said. "Originally, it was installations, now it's the maintenance of those intercom and telephone entry systems."
"Fire is a huge growth area for the company," said Steven Wasserman, vice president and general manager of the company. "The recurring revenue from fire dwarfs everything else. The revenue comes from monitoring [the company owns part of a central station] and the testing and inspecting of fire systems," he said.
In 2004, Wasserman joined the company and Dolin acquired the accounts of Wasserman's Long Island-based fire installation company, Wiring Solutions. The two companies had worked together for years. "We did fire, but we subbed all the work out to him. We were his biggest customer, and we decided to join forces, because he wasn't big enough to grow like he wanted and we needed the expertise," Dolin said.
Wasserman said the new showroom will be divided into five different areas, one for each service that they offer and will be designed to allow American Security Systems "to get hands-on with the end user." Wasserman said.
For example, "we want to be able to show them how the communications system for a high-rise works; the same thing goes for the card access or other systems," he said. "We want them to be able to see it and touch it and get an understanding of what it is they are buying."
The company also has plans to offer educational seminars for building owners and managers in the showroom.
Steve Wasserman (left) and Larry Dolin. The painting in the background is of publisher and philanthropist Henry Luce III. Luce, who died last fall. Luce provided financial backing for Dolin when he started American Security Systems and was a silent partner of Dolin's for many years.