Safety Technologies Inc. (STI) celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010 by refocusing and retooling like never before. The Medina, Ohio-based company stood strong in the face of a weakened economy by developing new markets and reinforcing its comprehensive, full-service approach to security, life safety and audio/video integration.
STI’s drive, determination and professionalism were instrumental in it being named SSI‘s 2011 Installer of the Year in the small to midsize company classification (fewer than 150 employees). The firm deploys a soup-to-nuts success formula encompassing outstanding customer service, business practices, marketing strategies, personnel management and training, and community and industry service.
“Our goal is to become our clients’ technology advisor, a theme woven throughout our community outreach, marketing efforts and employee philosophy,” says STI President Michael Pope. “The best way we demonstrate this commitment is the professionalism we exhibit by designing every system before it is sold and having the best trained installation staff.”
Growing From Security Roots
STI started out in 1990 as a security installation entity named Securitec Inc. In 1999, the company purchased Audio Video Interiors (AVI), a custom A/V installation company. In 2001, the firm launched Safety Technologies Inc. as a business devoted to providing integrated security solutions.
Today, STI/AVI’s 25-member staff generates $4.3 million in annual revenues serving around 600 accounts spanning the residential, commercial, government, educational and institutional markets. The company is not new to awards, having captured the Consumer Electronic Association’s (CEA) Integrator of the Year Award in 2007, among other honors.
“The numerous national awards we have won have been crucial in our marketing efforts enabling us to win even bigger projects,” says Pope. “The press keeps our staff energized; creating a sense of pride that carries through to all aspects of our business.”
Tough When It Got Rough
As many others did, STI saw its growth stagnate in 2009. However, unlike many of its contemporaries, rather than recoil or shift into an overly cautious damage-control mode, STI responded with verve and vigor.
“At a time when most companies were focused on cutting expenses, we chose to add a marketing coordinator, strengthen our manufacturer support, build a network of architect & engineering partners and increase our PR,” says Pope. “We also took advantage of the real estate market and economic incentives, positioning ourselves for the upturn. We increased our sales staff, engineering abilities and business verticals, and managed to maintain steady sales numbers.”
A summary of the business’ strategic initiatives include the following:
- Launched a Fire/Life Safety division by recruiting a NICET Level IV engineer, adding inspections, maintenance and standalone fire systems to its product lineup.
- Developed a Commercial A/V division by hiring a credentialed commercial designer and a certified commercial installer/programmer. “Commercial A/V creates opportunities for cross-selling; commercial clients who also have residential need security clients who want A/V, etc.,” says Pope.
- Purchased new corporate headquarters. To help cover the costs of building a premier showroom, STI formed an alliance with 30+ companies that have installed products in services. “Our goal is to use event-based marketing in our new showroom, share marketing/client lists, and share marketing costs,” says Pope.
- Expanded security business by offering advanced security features, normally found in commercial businesses, to its affluent residential A/V system clientele. As of this writing, three of STI’s five most recent large-scale projects included commercial-level security systems ranging from $17,000 to $322,000 in added revenue.
- STI also added a full-time marketing professional who launched 11 social media sites, co-branded the company newsletter, and optimized and revamped the company’s Web sites. “We transitioned our marketing from traditional approaches to Internet-based,” adds Pope. “Social sites are used to promote as well as to inform and educate.”
These activities combined with residential strategies such as selling security-based home automation solutions and replacing POTS-line systems with GSM cellular/Internet ones has STI projecting revenue growth to $5 million in 2011.
STI is also quite savvy at marketing, continually assessing and evaluating, and focusing on target audience and resulting lead generation. The company shaved some low-performing programs and focused on growing its E-mail outreach. As a result, 22 percent of leads came through Internet sources and marketing expenditures in 2010 were reduced to 1 percent of sales, or $141 spent per lead.
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