Stage set for Fike to join top four

Chuck Kopoulos, new CEO talks to Security Systems News about reasons why
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

LAS VEGAS—It’s expanded its product line, secured some critical UL listings, and it’s a private company that’s not beholden to Wall Street: All of this positions Fike very well to achieve its goal of becoming one of the top four fire players in North America, said Fike CEO Chuck Kopoulos.

Kopoulos was named president and CEO of Fike in April, after the death of Max Jewell. Fike is an industrial and commercial safety solutions provider that entered the general fire alarm market three years ago. Last year it acquired axonX, a video smoke detection company. At that time, Jeff Moore, vice president and general manager of Fike’s fire alarm business told Security Systems News “We want to be one of the four major holders of market share within two years.”

It may take a little longer, but that’s still the goal, Kopoulos said.

Getting UL listing for its video smoke detection product, SigniFire, last fall and securing the UL listing for its integrated voice evacuation product two weeks ago were “major accomplishments.” The voice evacuation product listing, Kopoulos said, “was the last major piece we needed to have in place to have a full product [and compete] to be a major fire player.”

Coincidentally, investments sown in R&D in the past few years have resulted in “more new products than we’ve shown [at the NFPA show] in the past five or six years.”

“R&D is the lifeblood of any company,” Kopoulos said. “If you’re not investing enough resources, you really shouldn’t be in game.” This is something that Fike’s board “understands and supports and it particularly supports the focus on fire alarm in last five years.”

Being a 65-year-old family-owned, private company with a strong board gives Fike management “the opportunity to think and act strategically,” Kopoulos said, that’s an advantage other major fire players don’t have, he said.

When will Fike knock off Honeywell, Siemens, Tyco or UTC to join the top four? Kopoulos said it’ll take a number of years, and, in the future, “if we say we’ve gotten there, we’re not shooting high enough.”