More Than A Concept
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- May 01, 2017
Integration of security systems is more than a concept or plan
for Jeff Comeaux. It has become a passion and a calling. For
the past 8-plus years, Comeaux and his I3Concepts team have
taken the Dallas area by storm, currently working in as many as
250 to 350 buildings in the Metroplex.
Small, but nimble, I3Concepts (I3C) has 38 employees, including
more than a dozen service techs, and these employees are doing
the work of similar, but larger, integrators in the area. Comeaux and
his staff office in a low-rise building, operating on several floors, but
there is movement in the works to bring the staff together in one facility,
with more floor space. I3C is busting at the seams.
As with any successful business, I3Concepts has its own niche for
work and customer service.
Securing parking facilities comes to mind first for Comeaux. The
company has aligned itself with TIBA Parking Systems in Ohio. They
serve numerous verticals, including airports, medical facilities, hotels
and central management, among others.
“TIBA breaks the mold with innovative parking solutions and
emerging technologies. With more than 30 years of experience, TIBA
caters to customers from such diverse industries as airports, universities,
shopping centers, municipalities, medical centers and high security
facilities,” Comeaux said. “Built with exceptional and intuitive
design, TIBA allows us to focus on efficiency and profitability, helping
us help our clients maximize ROI in less time.”
As Comeaux launched into the security industry, he found his
sweet spot in access control and CCTV. In fact, he started his new
venture in 2008, just when the economy was on a downward spiral.
Numerous friends and associates warned him not to start his new
business, but he had a concept in mind, and felt like with the economy
going south, security would be heading skyward.
Comeaux opened his doors for business, and there he was, on his
own and looking for install work. It worked and within a year he was
hiring employees as the business grew. His business philosophy is
what really helped him take off.
“Surround yourself with people that are as good as, or better than
myself, and you will be great,” Comeaux said. “It is these people that
really built the business.”
As the business grew, Comeaux envisioned the company employing
eight to 10 people, and doing $1 million of business a year. That
goal has been surpassed as he is on target to have a $6 to $8 million
year this year, and projecting an $8 to $10 million in the near future.
So, the business that expected to be small enough to earn a living has cascaded into nearly 40 employees, and a multi-million dollar
resource. Located in North Dallas, the company has opened a satellite
office in Austin/San Antonio, and is planning to open an office in
Houston by June. Oklahoma is on track to have a branch location in
2018, where they already have parking systems in place.
It didn’t hurt that he’s surrounded himself with top-name products,
such as Salient (VMS provider), DSX Access Systems (access control),
Automatic-Systems (pedestrian and vehicle entrance control systems),
IP camera manufacturers, and others manufacturers in the industry.
- Salient. For his installations, Comeaux said this is the top of the line
VMS, and has been integrating this system for the past seven years.
“A core value at Salient is ‘service first’.” said Paul Smith, district
sales manager for Salient. “Partners like I3Concepts which share that
value and bring technical expertise to the design and installation of
security systems consistently deliver the best deployment experience
for our users.”
- DSX. The day I3Concepts got started, they began a partnership
with DSX. Comeau said they are the 17th most productive dealer
nationwide with DSX, and worldwide of more than 50 dealers.
- Automatic-Systems. I3Concepts is the largest dealer for Automatic
Systems ParkPlus intelligent parking gates in the United
States, and is also a major integrator of AS’s optical turnstiles, portals
and vehicle gates in Texas.“Jeff has made employee technical training and customer service
a priority, we could see the commitment from the first day. As our
very first and most trained ParkPlus dealer in the United States,” said
Mike McGovern of Automatic Systems. “I3 set the standard for other
parking system integrators in our system. As for security optical
turnstiles and other pedestrian portals, Jeff’s team has set themselves
apart by personalizing the customer experience. We wish that we
could have another 50 dealers like I3 Concepts.”
- Maxxess Systems. I3C has been working with the product since
the late 1908s, back when it was Intelligent Controls Inc.
I3 has been installing parking system for the last four years, but
today it has become nearly 50 percent of the company’s gross sales.
Parking has been a fast moving and steady part of the growth. As
mentioned, being a dealer for TIBA has provided I3C with a wide
territory for sales and integration. For instance, I3Concepts is responsible
for parking security systems in North Dallas at the Galleria
office towers and shopping center, and is installing a license plate recognition
system at the Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel and Convention
Center in Grapevine, Texas. Both solutions are TIBA and LPR.
“Getting work has come because we believe in customer relationships,
referrals and quality workmanship,” Comeaux said. “You
simply can’t do enough for a customer to keep that relationship
working. We believe the service call in the most important part of
the business. If a customer has a broken gate arm, we respond and
get it fixed right away.”
“A core value at Salient is ‘service first’.” said Paul
Smith, district sales manager for Salient. “Partners
like I3Concepts which share that value and bring
technical expertise to the design and installation
of security systems consistently deliver the best
deployment experience for our users.”
Understanding the security aspect of the parking vertical depends
upon the type of technology installed. A license plate reader will scan
the license plate and if it is in the system, the gate arm automatically
raises. If it is not recognized, the driver will have to take and ticket
and pay upon leaving the parking structure. Parking payment also
has its own routine. All card issue devices and payment terminals are
brought into the Dallas office, and checked to make sure they work
properly and efficiently.
I3C mainly operates in the Dallas/Fort Worth area but is expanding
and is scheduled to make a move to a much larger facility this
month. The benefits of being a Texas company allow for training for
clients and end users, and offers excellent tech support for the customer.
Those customers are mainly high-rise, multi-tenant buildings,
as well as low-rise buildings and executive office buildings and parking
Service staff who can keep up with the changing and evolving technology
is likely the one thing that keeps Comeaux awake at night. The
future is systems that are IP based, Comeaux said. In fact, he is certain
that today’s security technicians must have more education about IP/IT
networking experience and infrastructure systems that will integrate
together. He also said that the systems used yesterday would require
two, three of four cameras per room, where today it can be accomplished
with one camera. It also requires less sophistication for installation,
but the technician must understand programming.
Well-qualified employees are so important to I3C, that the company
will pay for all training classes that technicians need to stay current
with trending requirements. Comeaux said technicians need to
know plenty about a lot of different security installations. In fact, I3C
does not do any new analog installations but will encourage customers
to upgrade and move to digital technology. If a customer has analog,
they will use endcoders to upgrade the client’s system but still
encourages the move to digital.
For aspiring technicians, Comeaux has some valuable advice:
“Learn as much as you can with every educational opportunity in the
security and IT business.”
For anyone else in the security business, he said that service
should always take a priority. “Value the customer’s needs,” he said.
“We guarantee a 4-hour onsite visit, and a 2-hour response to a
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Security Today.