Johnson Controls, Carter Bros. ally

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MILWAUKEE--Johnson Controls announced Aug. 21 that it had entered into a strategic alliance with Carter Brothers of Atlanta, a security and fire integrator and a minority business enterprise. The alliance will make it easy for customers to meet their minority business enterprise participation goals and requirements, and it extends both companies’ network of local branch offices.

According to Carter Bros. CEO John Carter, however, this isn’t a partnership that’s easy to categorize: “We said, ‘We’re not going to put this into a box, like contracto-sub contractor, we’re not doing any of that.’ We’re saying, ‘Here’s what the customer is looking for.’ It’s going to be driven from the customer. If they’re looking for one side of it, that’s the way we’re going to drive it. We have an agreement saying it can go any way we want it to, and we think that’s a win for both sides.

“Johnson Controls is a big huge company, and we’ve been successful working with big huge companies,” Carter continued. “I understand why the security industry struggles with these kinds of partnerships, but it’s a business deal that makes a tone of sense for us.”

Initially, Carter Brothers will likely help with fire installation, something the company specializes in following its purchase of GE’s Edwards business in 2007.

“They were intrigued with how I ended up getting the Edwards business,” Carter said, “and then, hey, is there an opportunity to look at the Edwards business along with the rest of Carter Brothers?” Carter said some of that discussion started while he and one of Johnson Controls’ vice presidents of diversity were working on a national board together, and they started talking about strategic alliances.

Carter said the partnership gets at a new way of doing business. “We can’t be pigeon-holed,” Carter said. “The only people who can pigeon-hole us would be us. Our customers are just looking for more services under one umbrella.”