Building a business is a lot like building a home. First, the foundation must be laid. This is what will become the base of the structure and the launch pad for expansion. Next, a framework must be constructed to hold the building together. Everything else, can be heaped on top to complete the home.
The owner of A-West Security in Lancaster, Calif., Robert Fisher, has taken these steps to build his business. He has been in business and licensed since 1982 and has built upon a foundation of about 200 monitored accounts.
In July 1993, Fisher began the installation of the first outdoor security system for Terry Lumber. Since that installation in Northridge, Calif., 16 Terry Lumber yards have been equipped with perimeter protection systems. The systems cost between $2,000 and $4,500. The systems potentially protect lumber worth up to $400,000 retail.
Having An “In” Can Help When It Comes to New Business
Luckily for A-West Security, Fisher happened to have a mutual friend who worked for Terry Lumber. Fisher followed up on the lead, and after a few interviews, A-West Security had a new client.
Ask Questions to Pinpoint the Need For Security
In the case of Terry Lumber, theft was the problem the company was facing and wanted to stop. “With the lumber industry, they keep tabs on all the yards across the country and they realize there’s a rash of problems with theft,” says Fisher. Thieves can get away with lumber worth up to $400,000 retail.
During the interview process, both Fisher and Terry Lumber came to the conclusion that photoelectric beams were going to work the best for the lumber yards. “They had an idea of what they wanted, which was some sort of beam or motion detection,” Fisher says.
Decisions During First Lumber Yard Install Lead to More Jobs
Since his main concern was dense fog rolling in during the night and setting off a false alarm, he decided to go with Optex MK2 photoelectric beams on his first installation with Terry Lumber because they are equipped with a disqualification circuit. According to Fisher, the disqualification circuit allows the beam to work until 95 percent of it is blocked gradually. Then it will automatically bypass that beam until the fog lifts and it clears to under 95 percent.
“The Northridge yard was the first, kind of a prototype, to see how it was going to work out,” explains Fisher. The hard work paid off because it did work out great. “From there we went and did the Tarzana yard and it kept snowballing after that. They [Terry Lumber] decided to go ahead and get all the yards done.
Beams Secure Perimeter, Criss-Cross Throughout Yard
“What we tried to do in the first phase was to protect the perimeter of the yard. We tried to line the first few yards with beams just inside the fence line,” Fisher explains.
The next step was to protect the interior of the yard as a backup to the fence line. More beams were criss-crossed throughout the inside of the entire yard to prevent any further penetration.
Burying 600 Feet of Cable Creates Difficulty
While installing the outdoor protection system for Terry Lumber, Fisher’s biggest and most difficult problem was laying the cable between the transmitters and receivers on the photoelectric beams.
“Most alarm companies would cut about a foot wide section of the asphalt, pull all of that asphalt out and then lay conduit down,” Fisher explains. “We cut the asphalt 1/2-inch wide X 21/2 inches deep into the asphalt, just one cut. I used weather-resistant, direct-burial cable.”
Cutting the asphalt by only making a single cut was a lot less work, making the whole process easier, cleaner and faster according to Fisher. Silicon sand was used to fill in the rest of the cut because of its properties of being fine yet heavy. An asphalt sealer was placed on top of the silicon sand. Fisher got this idea from seeing it done at intersections in the street.