Riverside finds growth with existing customers

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Friday, September 10, 2010

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—In this part of the country, where the economy has taken a beating, Riverside Integrated System has stayed focused on its existing customers and is setting itself up to capitalize on growth areas such as mass notification systems, said Tom Kramer president of the company.

In business for 20 years, Riverside does all aspects of fire and security, but fire accounts for 70 percent of the business and is the company’s forte.

About a year ago, Riverside experienced a drastic dip in sales and had to layoff some employees. Fortunately, the economy has perked up some and Kramer was able to hire back a number of employees. The pick-up in sales in the past several months has been maintained, and Riverside has about 50 employees currently.

“To be successful, you need to have qualified licensed professionals who understand the codes and understand the market,” Kramer said. “My employees are NICET Level IV certified and on down. All of our installers are state-licensed fire alarm technicians and I take pride that the majority of our employees are long-term.”

Kramer says he’s focused on service and upgrades for existing customers, many of whom fall into the medical and education verticals, two verticals that are doing well in Western Michigan.

With his company’s expertise in design-build projects and integration, Riverside has progressed rapidly into the mass notification market.

“We’ve installed several to date and have a couple more in progress,” he said. “The most important thing is educating the customer about these systems.” Kramer said he invested in a showroom two years ago, which helps greatly with that process.

“It’s a good way to get [customers] to understand us, who and what we are, and it’s a good way for us to have a captive audience.”