When Jack John founded Intelligent Access Systems of Atlanta, Ga. in 1990, he had one client, two employees and focused on new construction projects. Over the years the company branched out to its current headquarters in North Carolina, as well as Pennsylvania and Virginia, and incorporated new services to accomodate industry trends.

As Ron Oetjen, president of Intelligent Access Systems of N.C. LLC (IAS), Raleigh, N.C., looks back on the past four years, he finds that new directions and a dedicated team are what carried the company through a devastating economy.

“Back in 2007, before the economic turbulence came into play, we sat down and looked at the state of the market and tried to figure out what we needed to do to grow,” Oetjen relates. “At that time, the NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards for the bulk electric system and the DHS Maritime Transportation Security Act to protect the nations ports and waterways had recently been released.”

IAS, ranked as one of the top 100 companies in SDM’s Top Systems Integrator Report, became involved in the design and engineering of the electronic systems in plan proposals for those agencies. Oatjen notes that during that same time, TSA’s new Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program and DHS’ Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulation were both in development.

“We saw a great opportunity emerging in this space because we knew that the regulations would require companies falling under them to increase their security posture,” Oetjen says. “There’s a heavy entry fee in the critical infrastructure space — because you have to understand their business and their regulatory requirements and your business model needs to be setup to handle the requirements of these types of companies — but it’s really been a very succesful move for us.”

In addition to IAS’ venture into the critical infrastructure space, the company identified opportunities for remote management capabilities in emergent security systems. IAS put forth its first remote video monitoring offer in 2007. “At this point, the market’s still pretty hot, but then in 2008 and 2009, the economy drops and people are looking for ways to cut costs. We saw we could eliminate some costs as well as provide superior service by managing access control and video remotely. It helped us grow our business during some tough economic times,” Oetjen tells.

Though this new kind of service proved profitable — increasing IAS’ RMR, and helping to compensate for “shrinking box margins” — there were some logistical concerns to overcome. “The challenge has been finding a monitoring center that has the skills and aptitude to partner with to provide this service,” Oetjen explains. “We tried several different monitoring centers before finally finding a partner that could meet our needs.”

Next, the company released a remote access management service that allows clients to outsource all of the programming and management functions to IAS, from database management to routine tasks such as the production of ID cards. Beginning in 2009, the company has seen “an increased appetite” for this service as more and more companies choose to subcontract system management.

Shifting the company’s business model has certainly positioned IAS at an advantage in the current economy and industry. Still, Oetjen maintains that what gives IAS an edge are the knowledgeable staff who have realized these strategies. “The reason we have a good standing is we hire higher level tech staff who are committed to clients and customer service. The people at Intelligent Access make Intelligent Access what it is.”