Tech Systems expands into Calif. with buy

Thursday, September 1, 2005

ATLANTA--Tech Systems increased its geographic reach in June with the purchase of California-based systems integration firm Proprietary Access Control Enterprise.
Tech Systems moves into California and the Southwest for the first time as a result of the deal. Darryl Keeler, president of Tech Systems, said that the company, which accounts for the majority of its business in the Southeast and is budgeted to hit $21 million in revenue this year, was also interested in joining forces with PACE because the company had comparable business models.
"The attraction to PACE was that we saw a very similar philosophy for customer service," Keeler said. "And we are both members of the PSA network."
Ray Downs, the former president of PACE who will stay with the company as Tech System's manager of regional services for the West Coast, said he came to know the company and Keeler though PSA events.
"We both basically think very much alike in regards to making a customer's system work right as well as what it takes to install and maintain a system," Downs said.
Downs said he was not actively looking to sell his business, which generated approximately $3.5 million yearly, rather Keeler offered him an opportunity he could not ignore.
"It's kind of exciting, but also bittersweet," Downs said. "Darryl approached me and said he really liked what we had done here and wanted some type of presence on the West Coast."
Keeler said expanding into specific geographic areas does not fuel Tech Systems' growth strategy.
"That is what makes it interesting for us," he said. "We don't have an acquisitions team. What we do have are strong clients that take us into new areas. They have facilities all across the country and they get to drive the growth."
The company, which accounts for five offices, started out as what Keeler called a "typical small integrator" until it switched to its service-based model in 1996 and began experiencing increased growth. According to Keeler, 50 percent of Tech Systems' business is in the national account arena.
But the true driver behind the company's business is in creating long-term clients, which is just the way PACE ran its organization before being acquired.
Downs said the PACE name will eventually be changed to the Tech Systems name and he expects the transition to be completed within six- to nine months. One thing that will not change is the focus on service.
"A great installation is good," Downs said. "But 75 percent of a relationship is based on service."