VMS Alarms economic powerhouse

Despite down economy, company keeps hiring, growing
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WARWICK, R.I.—VMS Alarms, a residential security company based here, recently received an award that really stands out in these times of high unemployment: The company was honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration for creating more than 100 jobs since receiving an SBA loan in 2009.

And Brian Fabiano, company COO, said the eight-year-old VMS—which was No. 573 on the Inc. 5000 list this year, with 572 percent growth and $12.2 million in revenues—is still growing.

“We’re hiring everyday and we just can’t bring people in fast enough,” Fabiano told Security Systems News. The company does no door knocking, Fabiano said. “We do 100 percent in-house sales. Nothing door to door,” he told SSN.

He said that VMS, which has about 220 employees and serves more than a dozen states ranging from New England to Ohio and West Virginia, just expanded to Dallas about five months ago because of its demand for more sales staff.

“Honestly, we expanded to Dallas purely based on the hiring market. Here in Rhode Island, one of our biggest challenges is hiring enough people … so we wanted to get into a bigger market and Dallas can sustain that market,” he told SSN.

Not bad for a company that started out in 2003 out of CEO Jay Gotra’s apartment.

Fabiano said that he and Gotra—who this summer won the 2011 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Rhode Island and the New England region—and a third associate, Barry Crins, now a company VP, all worked for another alarm sales company.

After leaving that company, they started Versatile Marketing Solutions, which was then a sales company, not an alarm company per se.

“At one point we were selling mortgages back in 03-04,” recalled Fabiano. “But we always reverted back to what we knew best, and that was alarm sales.” They gradually added staff, such as technicians—they now have about 45—and expanded into a full-fledged alarm company that Fabiano says has served about 35,000 customers in the past five years.

In 2009, the company got an SBA loan that enabled it to move from its former 6,000-square-foot headquarters in Providence, R.I. to the rehabbed 16,000-square-foot building it now occupies in Warwick.

“It opened up a lot of space, which honestly we have already filled up,” Fabiano said.

The company has more than doubled its senior sales staff, and between August 2009 and August 2010, it added more than 120 full time administrative, installation and sales positions, which landed it this year on the SBA 100 Companies list. The SBA 100 is a group of businesses that have created at least 100 jobs since receiving SBA assistance.

When asked his company’s secret, Fabiano said there is none.

“The success of our company is just from being very good at what we do, and we’re good not only at the sale of alarms but keeping our customers very happy after the fact,” he said.

The company also has a number of dedicated sales managers who have been with VMS a long time and risen through the ranks, he said.

“Having good sales managers allows us to very easily grow. The employees are the key here,” he said.

Fabiano said he likes to think that VMS is contributing to the economy.

“We provide over 200 people with good jobs … and in the meantime we’re also protecting people’s homes and family, so it works out for everybody,” he said.