Multi-family niche is nice

CO detector mandate keeps Electric Fire and Security hopping
Thursday, October 22, 2009

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn.--New laws that require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in single- and multi-family homes have kept Electric Fire and Security's fire division busy.

"It [all of these dwellings in Minnesota] was supposed to be all done by August 1, but everyone waited until the last minute," said Greg Lindquist, president of Electric Fire and Security.

Lindquist started the business in 1986 "with three people, a card table, and two phone lines." The business now employs 30 and has a profitable niche working with multi-family dwellings. The company got into this vertical because of word of mouth, Lindquist said. "We did some installs in multi-families and they told two friends, and they told two friends." He also credits being a Silent Knight dealer with helping his business grow. "It's enabled us to get into markets that we might not have if the systems weren't so easy to install and program," he said.

The CO detector work has led to other fire and security jobs, he said. "We install the CO detectors, and if we have to tie it into an old fire system, [we often get the job of] of upgrading the system."

Fire is only 20 percent of Lindquist's business, but he's had a steady load of security work from apartment buildings as well. "The older buildings are upgrading their amenities with newer camera systems, card access."  Lindquist works with seven major property management companies in the area. "When they have a project with a new building or a re-model, they call us. It's a great niche to be in," he said. Business is up five- to 10 percent over last year, and Lindquist  will likely expand his geographic footprint in this state by the end of the year.