Pro-Active takes on housing

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

UNIONDALE, N.Y.--In the beginning, Pro-Active Business Solutions better reflected its name, said Zsolt Sapy, vice president of corporate sales. “Instead of just selling security systems, with the technology that was out there we could put out more of a management tool, and security became a by-product.”

Often, the most effective part of the system for small businesses, he said, was a simple sign telling people they were being watched, both employees and customers.

But there was a downside to the business plan: “Do you want to deal with hundreds of small business owners?” Sapy asked.

So, taking the same philosophy, Pro-Active moved to larger operations, where it could serve as an outsourced loss-prevention department, like warehouses and housing projects. Perhaps the pinnacle was a job for JJJ Properties, installing video surveillance for the School House, Liberty, and Disston apartment complexes in Atlantic City, known to be some of the most crime-ridden residential complexes in New Jersey.

“I’m sure plenty of companies put in bids,” said Sapy, “but once they saw the syringes and excrement, they just walked away.”

Over the course of a six-month installation and fine-tuning process, Sapy said his employees were threatened, equipment was quickly vandalized, and Pro-Active had to be creative.

Residents would rip out whole walls to destroy “vandal-proof” camera installations, so “we’d go into the cement four feet up, have two-inch conduit reinforced every six inches, like a maximum-security prison installation.”

It was also a worst-case scenario that allowed Pro-Active to iron out a business plan. “We probably should have priced it about 30 percent higher,” said Sapy, but “if we could turn that place around, imagine a place that has fewer problems. It can be both profitable and make a difference in the community.”