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IAS branching out in Charlotte

IAS branching out in Charlotte CEO Oetjen says he's got 'the right person, the right opportunity and the right city'

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Intelligent Access Systems, a PSA Security integrator, is opening its sixth office here this month.
"This is the first time we've not had a key customer in the area where we open an office," IAS CEO Ron Oetjen told Security Systems News. What IAS does have, Oetjen said, is "the right person, the right opportunity and the right city [to make this office work]."

"If you look at our company vision statement, it says that we want to be the strongest and most respected independent systems integrator between Washington and Atlanta," he said.

IAS is headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., with offices in Pittsburgh, Richmond, Va., Atlanta, and Tampa, Fla. There was an obvious gap in the Charlotte area and an obvious opportunity for organic growth in IAS' target vertical markets, he said.

"It makes logical sense for us to get there, and this will really be an organic thing. We'll be developing new customers," Oetjen said.

Most important, Oetjen said, was that he was able to hire a security veteran who knows Charlotte well, Kevin Corl, to open and grow IAS operations in Charlotte. Corl previously worked for Niscayah, Pinkerton and SFI Electronics. "This is not his first rodeo," Oetjen said.

"Charlotte is a class A market and [has] been my home for the past 25 years," Corl said.

"We have humble goals for the first year," Oetjen said. "We think this can be a $4 million office in the three- to five-year plan."
IAS, which was on the Inc 500 list of fastest-growing companies in 2011, currently has revenues of $14 million and is projecting annual revenues for the year to be $16 million. To fulfill its vision, the company will "need to be about $20 to $25 million," Oetjen said.

Corl noted that the Charlotte market holds promise for IAS' target vertical markets: critical infrastructure, health care and higher education. Novant, the "largest nonprofit health care provider in the U.S.," is in Charlotte, he said.

There are many colleges and universities in the Charlotte area. It is also home to the "seventh-largest biotech research center in the country" and the home of Duke Energy, which is likely to merge soon with Progress Energy of Raleigh "to form the largest independently owned power company in the U.S.," Corl said.

"There are obvious opportunities there," Corl said.

Oetjen said he's been fortunate that neither the company's vertical markets nor its geographical areas were too hard-hit during the recession. Critical infrastructure, which accounts for about 60 percent of IAS' business, “did not see a downward trend,” and health care, 20 percent of IAS' business, was “flat as a percentage of revenue, but end users were still spending.” Higher education, the other 20 percent of IAS' business, “hasn't seen a change [in terms of spending] in years,” he said.


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