Simpson keeps pace with federal penitentiary work

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Monday, June 1, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, La.--As the U.S. economy shrank six percent in the first quarter, many integrators  gravitated toward more stable verticals, often those that rely heavily on government funding or are somewhat immune to market variations: critical infrastructure, transportation, education, and health care, to name a few. For Simpson Security Systems, federal prison systems have been a safe harbor. The company was recently awarded a multi-million-dollar contract for integration of what are known as Division 17 systems at the new FCI-Aliceville, Ala., federal prison.

“With this economy, everybody’s concerned,” said Keith Simpson, president and CEO of Simpson Security. “Usually, when the economy goes down, crime goes up, and business booms, but new construction has slowed down enough to keep us from putting the numbers out. Detention subsidizes us. We have six million dollars of work, and since we don’t subcontract, that keeps all of our employees busy. The economy won’t affect us for at least three years.”

With about 70 employees, roughly 30 percent of the company’s revenue currently comes via corrections work, but that may grow if the construction market stays as bad as it is, Simpson said.

For the penitentiary work, Simpson is a sub-contractor to the general contractor, Cadell-Yates, out of Montgomery, Ala. There’s an “extensive qualification process” that installers must go through, Simpson said.

According to the Bureau of Justice, prison populations have risen by an average of 2.4 percent each year since 2000, so there will be more opportunities in the corrections market as new facilities are built to hold those prisoners.

“Be a team player,” Simpson advised, “be an asset to that team. The Bureau does go by past qualifications. They don’t want you learning on the job.”