RALEIGH, N.C. — For a business to increase growth rate by 240 percent in a turbulent economy is no easy feat. Yet that’s exactly what Intelligent Access Systems (IAS) did in a three-year span. As a result, the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) awarded the company with the 2011 Excellence in Business award for growth strategies.
The NSCA Excellence in Business Awards honor systems integration firms that find innovative ways to thrive in an unstable economy.
IAS President Ron Oetjen tells SSI the company focused on regulated sectors such as critical infrastructure and healthcare markets to grow the business.
“Prior to 2007, we were a very strong business,” he says. “We were probably just growing at a slower pace than the average integrator. Most of the other guys were doing commercial and property management type work. We really felt strongly that if we positioned our company right and focused on the regulatory side, we could win those types of jobs.”
But it wasn’t easy for the company to break into the sector. First, IAS had to learn the different standards and regulations common to the segment, including the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Once it gained the knowledge, Oetjen says the company sought to reach decision makers to present its product offerings.
IAS began restructuring its marketing plan, targeting organizations such as the Edison Electrical Institute (EEI) and the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS). Though the company provides perimeter protection, access control and video surveillance, IAS had to offer another feature if it wanted to serve the regulated business segment.
“The large part about regulated businesses is compliance reporting,” says Oetjen. “The clients must provide reports to various federal agencies. A lot of the compliance reporting packages available don’t meet the needs of the auditors. The [clients] are looking for a company that is more technical and IT savvy. We can talk at the IT level and do those custom things for them that they need to pass their audits.”
Since restructuring, IAS has about 60 accounts and brings in recurring monthly revenue (RMR) of $40,000. Because the sector is so small, Oetjen says that most integrators don’t want to take the time to market to so few companies. However, IAS was willing to take the challenge, and it paid off well.
Oetjen notes that when dealing with complex installations that have a lot of requirements, a strong project manager is key. He believes that a project manager must understand the scope of the job and must document everything that a project involves in order to be successful.
Additionally, companies seeking to improve growth must review marketing strategies annually.
“In years past, we weren’t as pertinent as we should have been,” he says. “Once we started looking at our plans on an annual basis and learning from our mistakes, we were able to take advantage of what was out there. It’s what got us the 240-percent growth and landed us on the Inc. 5000 list. If companies aren’t doing that, they’re probably not doing the prudent thing for their business.”
Other NSCA Excellence in Business Award winners include:
- Alpha Video & Audio Inc. for marketing strategies
- Avyve for philanthropic contributions
- Stage Front Presentation Systems for project development
- The Whitlock Group for fiscal responsibility
NSCA Executive Director Chuck Wilson tells SSI that applicants are members of the not-for-profit association, which represents low-voltage systems integrators and systems contractors. Award recipients are chosen by a five-person committee comprised of their peers.
“Our awards are different from others because we put more emphasis on the value of running a good business,” Wilson says. “There are a million technology-based awards, but hardly any one recognizes you for running a good business. The awards prove that businesses are using best practices and have risen above the rest.”
Award winners will receive one complimentary admission to the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference, scheduled for Feb. 17-19 in San Diego. This year’s event will include a panel presentation from the winners to better engage conference attendees on these successful strategies for their own businesses.
Ashley Willis is associate editor for Security Sales & Integration. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.