Silco Fire Protection extends reach with major acquisition

Purchase gives fire company state-wide coverage
Saturday, February 1, 2003

CINCINNATTI - With a purchase of a fire protection division owned by a large gas and welding distributor, Silco Fire Protection, a full-service fire protection firm based here has increased its geographic reach throughout Ohio.

Silco’s acquisition of the fire division of compressed gas giant Praxair Distribution gives Silco a total of four locations and a team of nearly 30 additional employees, including a general manager that had overseen the division for the past several years. After acquiring the fire division through Praxair’s previous purchase of independent gas and welding supply firm Perry Corp., Praxair was looking to divest the fire operations because it was not part of its core business, according to John vanDevender, a spokesperson for Danbury, Conn.-based Praxair Distribution.

Along with the acquisition were five locations in northern and central Ohio, all of which were slated for consolidation by this summer, said James Fraser, president and majority shareholder of Silco Fire Protection. Praxair’s Akron, Canton and Wooster branches will be combined into one location in Akron, while two offices near an existing Silco location in Columbus, Zanesville and Newark, will operate from the Columbus branch for efficiency reasons, Fraser said. Through the company’s headquarters here, Silco also services southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky; a branch in Dayton covers western Ohio.

“Until the first year is up we are going to concentrate on assimilating all that business”, Fraser said. The Praxair division “came with a healthy, long-term customer base with a lot of repeat business.”

For Silco, the purchase was its largest one yet and has so far increased its sales by about 35 percent. Although Fraser declined to divulge sales figures, 75 percent of Silco’s revenues comes from service. Alarm sales make up between two and five percent of sales.

Ken May, general manager of Silco’s northern division, located in Akron, said his division had been designing and installing fire suppression systems since the 1950s, as well as providing full service and sales of fire extinguishers.

Silco now has about 110 employees throughout the state.