The good, bad and the ugly

Through e-mails and phone calls, ESI keeps customers up-to-date on security projects
Tuesday, November 1, 2005

HOUSTON--When Jim Pugliese and Henry Ortiz came together to start a new security company, they wanted to keep their customers in the loop about the progress of their security projects.
The two credit that approach for enabling ESI Group to book nearly 100 security installation jobs since it began operations early this year. Company officials expect to reach $2 million to $3 million in sales in its first year.
"When we sell a project, we make sure we complete a project on time and on budget and within customers' expectations," said Pugliese, vice president of ESI Group. "A lot of it is communication to our clients. The good and bad news."
Unlike some companies, Pugliese said, ESI Group keeps its customers informed about the progress of their security projects. That includes both verbally communicating with customers and keeping in touch via email. It also means outfitting technicians with PDAs, so the company can keep in constant contact with its employees about projects and when a customer calls with a question.
"It's easy to do, but a lot of people don't do it," said Ortiz, president of ESI Group, about keeping customers informed on the progress of their projects. "That's where our industry lacks. Nobody communicates with the customer."
Pugliese and Ortiz decided it was time to take that approach and strike out on their own after seeing what they characterized as a lack of customer service in the Houston security market. The two previously worked together at Fisk Technologies, an electrical contractor that also operates a security business.
They started ESI Group with seed money from themselves, business partner Vincent Stevens, friends and family. After spending a month to become licensed and hire employees, the company launched in January.
Today it employs seven people and installs surveillance, burglar and access control systems in hospitals, chemical plants, schools and government facilities.
By next year, its employee base could double, according to Pugliese, to keep up with its steady stream of new customers and projects.