Sako, RJA share and share alike

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Friday, April 1, 2005

CHICAGO - Sako & Associates has been a sister company to Rolf Jensen & Associates for four years, but for the first time the two are now located in a single office here, enabling the security architect and engineering firm to better share information with its fire counterpart.

Sako moved into the shared space earlier this year, relocating from its facility in Arlington Heights, Ill., an office located more than one hour from downtown Chicago. Sako’s two other branches, in New York and Washington, D.C., were already co-located with Rolf Jensen & Associates.

“For us to be in close proximity, where we can share ideas and work on projects together, made all the sense in the world,” said Lauris Freidenfelds, vice president and manager of the Midwest for Sako.

According to Freidenfelds, many of Sako’s customers are located in downtown Chicago. Moving its office and 11 employees to the same area, and teaming up with a division that it works closely with, was a natural move despite three more years remaining on the lease for its former building.

The RJA Group, the parent company of Sako, Rolf Jensen, Fire Protection Management and Protection Knowledge Concept, saw synergies between the businesses four years ago, when it added a security component in late 2001.

At that time Sako reported yearly revenues of $1.5 million to RJA Group’s $30 million. Company officials saw an opportunity to cross market security and fire design work to its clients by offering both services in-house.

Bringing the Sako and Rolf Jensen locations under a single roof proved to be the next move, according to Sarah Crowley, group marketing associate for RJA Group. “It further integrates the fire and security capabilities that we can offer our clients,” she said.

Freidenfelds expects business will grow as a result of Sako’s office relocating. It now takes up 3,000 recently added square feet in its sister company’s office.

Freidenfelds was unable to provide financial details for the privately held company, but said Sako accounts for less than 10 percent of the parent company’s revenues.

He predicted that over the next three to five years, the security division will experience double digit growth.

“I think it’s going to have a positive impact on our ability to grow,” he said. “As a result of us spending lunches together, we start to share things much more frequently.”