An Advance Whose Time Has Come
A few years ago, Advance Technology went on a visionary mission to find new services and solutions for its customer base. The result has been the introduction of some of the industry’s most sophisticated offerings and staggering sales growth. This has culminated in being named an SSI 2013 Installer of the Year.
The future of the security integrator has been shown to us — and its name (appropriately enough) is Advance Technology Inc. (ATI). While this publication and other leading industry sources have provided research, analysis and advice about adapting to new security technologies and business models, ATI has been living it.
“Advance Technology has been in business for over 18 years and our founder, Jesse Abbott, has always had pride in our ability to stay in the lead with industry technology,” says ATI Marketing Coordinator Heather Olsen. “We were probably one of the first integrators to migrate from analog to IP technology. ATI has been on the cutting edge of technology from the beginning of the company’s inception.”
It’s one thing to offer the latest and sexiest products and systems; it’s another to develop and maintain the marketing, sales, installation, service, and customer care necessary to be successful and profitable in doing so. That has not been lost on ATI, which places perhaps even more emphasis on those sides of the business than whiz-bang technology.
“Part of our visionary mission a few years ago was finding new solutions for our company,” says ATI President Rob Simopoulos. “Advance Technology has always been a traditional integrator selling systems with service agreements on the back end. We recognized an industry shift and we needed to develop a core of solutions around RMR that provide our customers extreme value.”
The company’s portfolio now includes hosted/managed access control and video surveillance, managed intrusion alarms, hosted/managed video guarding, and managed audio-visual solutions. And much of its tech support has been transitioned to remote diagnostics and service. The results speak for themselves.
ATI is celebrating three straight years of growth after posting the highest revenue of its 18-year history. Additionally in 2012, the company invested $25,000 in a new Web site, engaged in social media and hosted a technology expo. ATI also prides itself on giving back to the community. No wonder the firm was named the 2013 SSI Installer of the Year (Small to Midsize Company, 200 or Fewer Employees).
Growing at a 70% Clip
Founded in 1994 in Scarborough, Maine, with just two employees — Abbott and one technician — ATI has grown to more than $9 million in revenue and a staff of 40. After establishing itself by cultivating systems integration business within its home state, the company began to strategically expand. Its Northern New England territories now include New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. To support its Boston-area operations, ATI has opened an office in Wakefield, Mass.
“The company is on a strong growth curve boasting 70%+ growth in the past three years,” says Simopoulos. “Our team works in a number of core markets but the ones we are having strong success in right now are higher education, health care, critical infrastructure and financial.”
The Canadian-born Simopoulos entered the security industry at 18 and earned a degree in Security System Implementation & Design from Toronto’s Sheridan College. As a founder of Sonitrol of South Central Ontario, his team designed and installed RMR-based security solutions that led to quick growth and expanding national accounts across Canada. After the business’ sale in 2009, he crossed borders into the United States to lead ATI.
Today, Simopoulos guides a business specializing in commercial industrial systems for security (including video surveillance, access control, ID badging, intrusion detection, fire/life safety, mass notification and monitoring services), audio/video, communications, patient safety, parking solutions and intelligent building technology. In addition to the markets mentioned, ATI also serves the government, architecture and design, property management, transportation and biotech sectors.
A Remote Revolution
As part of recognizing the shift away from installations and products toward solutions and support, ATI has evolved its business model into one centered around hosted and managed services. The company has partnered with PSA Security Network and Integrator Support to help develop and implement some of its new offerings.
The integrator has staffed a team of in-house engineers at its main offices to support, service and manage customers’ systems remotely via software. In most cases, ATI’s predominantly IP-based installed systems enable the engineers to address and solve problems without having to ever roll a truck to the site.
The firm has found that in excess of 80% of the problem calls it receives can be remedied remotely, often within just 15 minutes. Customers are saving money and also getting their systems repaired quicker than ever before.
“We are navigating the business away from a traditional systems integrator to an RMR-focused organization,” says Simopoulos. “We are selling cloud-based and managed solutions, including cloud-based video and access control, video guarding, managed access and video, and proactive remote services. We perform system health checks on customers’ systems to ensure we know if there is a problem before our customer does.”
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