Increases in Homeland Security funding and greater opportunities in the petrochemical industry have fueled the growth of FirstService Security, Norristown, Pa., this past year. The way in which this systems integrator has capitalized on those opportunities has earned the company the distinction of being named an SDM Systems Integrator of the Year Honoree.

The company does business in the United States under the name SST and in Canada as Intercon Security, notes Frank Brewer, CEO of FirstService Security. It ranked eighth on this year’s SDM Top Systems Integrators Report.

“A petrochemical company is a good example of that type of customer that fits our profile,” he says. “We probably do 10 different petrochemical companies with lots of different locations. They have highly specialized needs with complex systems, so they need that hands-on, up-close engineering, installation and support,” Brewer explains. “They’re also generally very large projects, so they can’t give them to a small company.

“We’re backed by a billion-dollar company, so they can rely on the financial stability of our organization,” he continues “They’re spread out over different geographic areas, so they need someone who can deliver globally, and that just fits our niche.”

“Colleges and universities are our next largest vertical market,” Brewer lists. “In Canada, it would be banking, colleges and universities.”

Customer care centers for FirstService Security, Norristown, Pa., are in Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The company provided a large digital video and intrusion system for more than 1,000 locations of the Royal Bank of Canada.

“The banking industry is a little more consolidated in Canada, a little easier to get your arms around,” Brewer explains about the difference in markets.

The next largest market for FirstService Security – colleges and universities – has a lot in common with chemical plants, Brewer maintains. They both have large areas that require video surveillance and large populations that use access control systems.

Brewer founded the company in 1986 to provide security and lock service to small businesses. In 1995, four additional partners were brought in and the name changed to Security Services and Technologies (SST). “In 2004, I was asked to take a management stake in Intercon, which was owned by FirstService,” he relates.

The company’s major equipment suppliers include Bosch Security Systems, GE Security, Honeywell Security, Integral Technologies, March Networks, Panasonic Security Systems and Tyco Fire & Security. Distributors include ADI, Anixter, CDW and Security Lock Distributors.

“We can handle any size of project anywhere,” Brewer maintains. “Our approach is to be a big small company, as I would put it. Be big, but act small.”

For the future, Brewer sees additional opportunities providing central station and Web-based services to customers in the United States.

At a Glance

  • SDM Systems Integrator of the Year Honoree: FirstService Security, Norristown, Pa.
  • Number of Employees: 600 full-time, including 15 Microsoft-certified engineers on staff
  • Revenue: $163.15 million in fiscal year ending April 2006
  • Market focus: Petrochemical industry
  • Note: Merged SST and Intercon Security into FirstService Security on April 1, 2004. Intercon Security was headquartered in Toronto.