State Systems diversifies

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Monday, June 1, 2009

MEMPHIS, Tenn.--To weather the economic slow down, State Systems Inc., a fire and security dealer here, is taking advantage of being a diversified company with a book of established customers and solid vendor relationships.

“It’s the old adage that if 30 percent of your customers are not buying, 70 percent of them still are. We’re trying to refocus on that 70 percent,” said Bob McBride, president of State Systems.

State Systems was purchased by McBride’s father in 1986. At that time it had three employees and its core business was fire extinguishers and suppression. Today it does $10 million in business annually and has 85 employees. The business is divided into three divisions: structured cable which accounts for 20 percent of the business; 30 percent is fire extinguisher and kitchen suppression; 30 percent fire alarm and suppression; and, 20 percent in security, access control and CCTV. Much of the fire business brings testing, maintenance and inspection work along with it, he noted.

In 2008, revenues grew seven percent compared to 2007. McBride attributed the increase to “diversification of the business, our maturity in the marketplace, not only how long the company’s been here but the relationships and longevity of our sales team.”

McBride does not expect to match those growth figures in 2009, but thanks to those same factors, as well as “working with key end users to interest them in some of our other offerings … and teaming up with vendors who bring us leads,” he expects the business to hold steady through this year.

State Systems does business within a 150 mile radius of Memphis, an area which crosses over into Arkansas and Mississippi. In the next year or two, McBride expects to expand into other complementary products and services.