ISS gets big marketing bang out of stadium job

New focus on service is paying off
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Monday, May 24, 2010

MIAMI—Integrated Security Systems’ CEO Jeffrey Nunberg said his mid-sized security and fire firm beats big multi-national corporations for jobs all the time, but he’s very excited about the recent win of the fire work for the new Marlins baseball stadium.

“The job has about 10 years worth of marketing value,” Nunberg said. “It’ll carry a lot of panache.” ISS will work with Meisner Electric, the prime electrical contractor, on the job.

In addition to being high-profile, the new Marlins stadium has a unique design—the stadium will have a retractable roof, for example. Completing a project like this will let others know that ISS can complete big, complicated projects on time, Nunberg said.

Not that ISS is new to this business. Founded in 1962, it’s a 50-employee full-service integrator that does access control, life safety, and CCTV as well as fire and mass notification systems. Fire currently makes up 40 percent of his business “and it’s growing. It’ll probably be about 50 percent this year. The beauty is the RMR it brings with it because building codes mandate test and inspection,” Nunberg said. ISS’s fire service business has taken off, too. “In the last 18 months, it’s grown about 40 percent due to our new focus.”

Focusing on his fire business, and his fire service business in particular, has helped ISS during the recession. Competition for jobs has increased in the past few years, Nunberg said. “It used to be that Florida was recession-proof,” he said. A stagnant construction market has taken its toll on contractors in Florida during this recession, however. Nunberg said the company’s moved away from bid-work to a business model based on negotiated work with end users. He’s not spending lots of time in construction offices and submitting bids, he’s working out prices and service contracts that work for ISS and the customer.

When construction was going strong, “we were focused on chasing elephants,” he said. Now, he’s changed comp plans to encourage employees to seek service agreements. Changing ISS’s business focus has been slow but rewarding. Nunberg said fire is definitely “very competitive, tough work with low margins.” But for those who “stay focused and manage costs, it’s a very good business.”