GLBS, at your service

Buffalo installer sees growth in mass notification, CO detection
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Friday, April 16, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y.—What’s the secret to double-digit revenue growth during down economic times? For Great Lakes Building Systems here, it comes down to two things: quick response and GLBS employees.

“We respond to our customers. We provide emergency service within four hours. No one does that in our area,” said William Blanchard, vice president of Great Lakes Building Systems.

It’s the employees doing the response and installing the systems that are GLBS’s real secret weapon, Blanchard emphasized. GLBS won Notifier’s 2009 Diamond Award for improvement in overall sales and service in one year. “We brought all the employees into a room after the conference and said, ‘You earned this award; we just picked it up.’”

Blanchard and his partner, John Wojdan, were colleagues at Simplex; when the company was bought out by Tyco in 2001 they decided to go out on their own. “We didn’t agree with the direction it was heading,” he said.

They started the business with one technician. Today they have two offices, one in Buffalo and one in Rochester and up to 27 full- and part-time employees. Their business is about 40 percent fire, 40 percent security and 20 percent suppression (special hazards suppression for data centers, and telecom rooms).

GLBS does work in the health care, educational, manufacturing and hospitality industries. “We also do federal and state government work, we do quite a bit of correctional systems work, that tends to be CCTV, audio and video monitoring,” he said.

There’s been an increased demand for mass notification systems, he said, for which GLBS uses Notifier equipment.

Available federal funding is driving the demand for mass notification systems. “And mass notification is, without question, a catalyst to our growth,” he said. The recent passage of Amanda’s Law, which mandates CO detectors in homes, has also affected Blanchard’s business.

While the law in question concerns residences, the law has prompted facilities like nursing homes to update or install CO detection systems, as well. “They don’t want to take a chance,” Blanchard said.