Proshield expands in Iowa

Fire firm needs sprinkler installer
Sunday, April 1, 2007

WATERLOO, Iowa--Proshield Fire Protection has expanded its reach in this state, opening in February a new office, its third branch, in Marshaltown.
Proshield's corporate office is here in Waterloo; its other branch is in Fort Dodge, said Russell Hotchkiss, owner of the company. Proshield started out as a fire extinguisher and inspection company, but has branched out into fire alarm systems, special hazard fire suppression, and Hotchkiss is actively working to bring sprinkler system capability to his company. He's currently in negotiations with the local union and hopes to hire a "qualified sprinkler person" in the next few months.
Hotchkiss, who learned fire suppression as a U.S. Navy diver, bought the company from Jim and Carol Ishman in 2001. The company at that time was called Waterloo Fire Extinguisher and had been in business since 1967.Proshield first delved into the fire alarm business "just under two years ago. It's maybe 10 percent of our business," but growing. In 2005, he bought a company called Fire Stop in Fort Dodge. The company did extinguisher and inspections work. He decided to rename the combined company Proshield at that time because the company was expanding around the state and also to reflect the scope of its work, which extends well beyond fire extinguishers.
The Marshaltown office was opened "from scratch. I had quite a few clients there already and it got to the point where I was losing two hours a day [commuting to and from the area] so I decided to buy a facility and put someone in that office."
Hotchkiss did not release financial information except to note that ProShield has grown from two employees to 12 since he bought the company. In the next year, Hotchkiss's goals include "getting the sprinkler service on board and adding a few employees."