Post storm, alarm companies are busier than ever

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

There are shortages of all kinds in New Orleans--workers, housing, rental and storage space, for example--but for the security dealers who still have employees and a place to work out of, there's no lack of work.
John Fisher, supervisor of Federal Protection and Anchor Alarms, lost customers and office space, but his businesses are up and running and very, very busy.
"We have a month-long list of service and installation calls scheduled," said Fisher.
He estimated that there are well over 200 local alarm companies that are not franchises in the New Orleans area. Several small companies did go out of business, he said, "but the majority of the local companies are still here, and just as busy as they can be."
"Right now we're at the point where [he and three other workers] are working eight- to 14-hour days, sometimes six days a week," Fisher said. And he doesn't see that workload easing up any time within the next two to four years.
Fisher's companies do burglar, sound, access control, camera and some fire for mostly residential customers. They lost half of their 3,000 customers due to the storm. Roughly 700 of those customers will return once their homes are repaired. Many are just getting back into their homes.
"After the first of the year, when peoples' insurance checks came in, we started getting even more calls to come out for estimates," Fisher explained.
The other 800 or so customers were located in the areas hardest hit by the storm. Those customers may or may not come back.
"It's a big waiting game now. A lot of it depends on what [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] decides about what areas may be rebuilt.
Fisher's office in Metairie, uninhabitable since it was flooded during Katrina, should be ready to be occupied by March 1. In late January, Fisher and his coworkers were working out of a small rented space and owner Ronald Lamoine's house, both located in the town of Destrahan.