SSC knows how to get spec'ed

N.J. firm dedicates one employee to work with architects and engineers
Monday, August 2, 2010

NEPTUNE, N.J.—Systems Sales Corporation works hard to maintain a presence with the architects and engineers within its footprint. Its products continue to get specified in local jobs as a result, and that's one of the reasons the company has maintained a steady business in an unsteady economy.

"We have a full-time person, a sales engineer who helps maintain those relationships," said John Ventrella, president of Systems Sales Corporation, a 52-employee fire and security installation company here.

"Being specified doesn't guarantee you the work, but is a major advantage," Ventrella said. "It gives your competition some grief. What it means is that they have to meet your features; you don't have to meet theirs."

In business since 1981, SSC has always been an Edwards dealer.

Most fire contractors, he said, don't have a full-time person who works with the architects and engineers. "They don't see the value in it; they leave that to the manufacturer." Ventrella is very happy with the outreach that Edwards representatives do with designers in his area, calling them the "best around," but he believes having a staff member working with those designers makes a difference in his business, particularly in a difficult economy.

"We generate 200 fire alarm specs a year," he said.

His sales engineer "keeps the architect and engineers up to date on our products. We host lunch-and-learns at our facility or at other events. He keeps us high-profile," Ventrella explained. "We get a lot of calls saying, ‘I'm working on a new medical office building, could you come down and help me prepare fire alarm specs?'"

Ventrella said he's always had a sales engineer function. It used to be shared by the sales force.

"We made it a full-time position four years ago," he said. "We saw signs of a slow down in the economy and thought it was an important thing to focus on. Right now our sales engineer is busier than ever, and in a slow economy, that's very encouraging."