Rapid’s expansion plans reach east and west

Company moving ahead with headquarters project, new central station
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Double-digit growth at Rapid Response is fueling a two-pronged expansion strategy, with plans proceeding for a new central station in the western United States and $11.3 million of new construction proposed at the company’s headquarters here.

Last week, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency granted Rapid preliminary approval for a tax break for its headquarters project. The City Council must still sign off on the deal, which would save the company more than $700,000 over 10 years. A sales tax exemption on construction materials is expected to save Rapid another $500,000.

The project is also contingent on Rapid receiving financial assistance from Empire State Development, a state agency. ESD officials are expected to announce the list of projects that receive state funding by late October.

The expansion plan involves the purchase and renovation of Rapid’s nearly 40,000-square-foot headquarters, which it leases, and the purchase of adjacent land to build an additional facility. The project could create up to 200 jobs, according to Russ MacDonnell, Rapid’s chairman and CEO.

“We plan to expand our training center and some of our operations,” MacDonnell told Security Systems News. “Most of the [new] jobs will be in operations—operators, customer service and data entry—but there will also be some accounting jobs and some marketing support jobs.”

MacDonnell said the specifics of the expansion in Syracuse would depend in large part on the state funding the company receives. He said construction could begin by the end of next year, “but I’m not going to guarantee that.”

“We’re still in the process of figuring all of that out,” he said. “In this kind of project, as you might imagine, there are a lot of moving pieces. … Right now we’re working with architects to figure out the best use of the land and the best program for our space.”

Regardless of the scale of the Syracuse project, Rapid will proceed with its plan to build a second central station in the West. MacDonnell said two target locations have been identified, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2013.

“It’s going to be a fully redundant center, not a satellite,” he said. “The question is going to be its size and how many people will be deployed there as opposed to here. We’re examining that from an operational as well as an economic perspective.”

Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations for Rapid, told SSN in April that sites in California and Arizona were being considered. He estimated that the “full-fledged central” would be 20,000 to 30,000 square feet.

MacDonnell said Rapid’s plans to expand on both sides of the country were due to the company’s customers and the double-digit growth it has been able to achieve.

“We certainly want to be one step ahead of them in terms of our infrastructure so we can continue to support that growth,” he said.