Powered By Experience
- By Ann B. O’Connor
- Jul 01, 2017
In an industry increasingly dominated by massive organizations
that grow larger with each merger or acquisition, end users find
themselves faced with a dwindling number of choices when it
comes to selecting a fire, life safety and security integrator.
It is a situation Red Hawk Fire & Security sees as the perfect
climate to bring its deep experience and national footprint to bear to
distinguish itself as the preferred customer choice for all of these services.
Since becoming a standalone company, Red Hawk has established
itself as a well-respected national player large enough to compete
with those big companies yet able to deliver swiftly for clients.
With seasoned veterans at more than 35 district offices, Red Hawk
responds to customers more like a smaller, local integrator but with
the resources, expertise and the reach of a larger one.
Back in 2006, UTC’s grouping of fire, life safety and security businesses
included well-respected names like Chubb, Detection Logic in
the West and FSI in New York, among others. In 2012 UTC shifted
its strategy to concentrate on their major equipment platforms selling
the fire & security service business to private equity firm Comvest
Partners creating today’s Red Hawk Fire & Security.
RED HAWK SHARPENS ITS FOCUS
Now, five years after branching out on its own, rebranding itself as a
national presence with the Power of Experience, and creating a unified,
customer-centric culture, Red Hawk Fire & Security is a growthfocused
organization with revenues approaching $300 million dollars,
an upward trajectory and one of the few remaining U.S. owned businesses in the industry.
To sharpen its focus in the fire, life safety and security arena, Red
Hawk divested non-core businesses, like MPA which makes modular
buildings, networking solutions provider, National Network Services
(NNSI) and Korden manufacturing, maker of steel case furniture. The
company then began looking at complementary organizations that
could enhance existing capabilities or add to their geographic presence.
In the last year, Red Hawk has made three, targeted acquisitions
first purchasing Systems Sales Corporation (SSC) to add capacity and
expertise in the New Jersey and Philadelphia markets. Then in 2017,
to expand its geographic presence into North and Central Florida,
Red Hawk purchased Integrated Systems of Florida (ISOF). The
acquisition of ISOF was followed quickly by Alarm Tech Solutions
(ATS) in the high growth areas of Baltimore, Northern Virginia and
“Acquisitions are definitely a part of our strategic plans going forward.
We’ve had success growing organically over the last five years
and we continue to look at well-run companies that mirror our culture,
can add geographic coverage for us or additional expertise,” said
Mike McWilliams, president and CEO of Red Hawk Fire & Security.
Aligned with its singleness of purpose and to stay on the cutting
edge of technology, Red Hawk has also partnered with Affiliated Monitoring,
one of the industry’s most advanced customer monitoring centers.
This strategic relationship with a tested and sophisticated leader in
the monitoring industry has provided Red Hawk the ability to offer its
monitoring customers the very latest in emerging innovations.
RED HAWK’S CUSTOMER-CENTRIC
To be considered a true and trusted advisor, Red Hawk first transformed
the organization from an assortment of separate companies,
to a united national presence considered the preferred choice by a
growing number of customers for all of their fire, life safety and security
system needs. This means having the capability and the capacity
to offer a full suite of services in every Red Hawk district office.
Customers who have traditionally turned to Red Hawk teams for the
testing, inspection and maintenance of their fire and life safety systems
are now realizing they also have a trusted partner for security
Part of the company’s growth strategy is in the national accounts
arena which has really started to gain traction for Red Hawk over the
last couple of years, especially for integrated security.
“We’re a good size business and our ability to deliver to national account
clients is a natural fit and a great opportunity,” McWilliams said.
“Once we stabilized our business and established a go-to-market
playbook across the enterprise, then we wanted to deliver for those
national customers. Some have come to us because we were more
agile or nimble than the bigger company they were using. They want
a partner to react to a service need now, not six months from now.
“Most national accounts customers are not as concerned about
what fire alarm panel they have, but they’re certainly concerned about
access control or video management systems. That’s really what’s been
driving our growth in the security business.” McWilliams said.
A recent survey of Red Hawk clients also shows the company’s
customer-centric service philosophy is paying off. An impressive 9
out of 10 customers gave Red Hawk high marks for ease of doing
business. The company also scored very high with customers in the
areas of trust as well as the value they place on the products and services
Red Hawk provides.
Red Hawk serves more than 50,000 commercial facilities in banking
and financial services, education, healthcare, retail, high-rise residential,
manufacturing and warehouse locations including:
- The largest casino in Connecticut.
- A multi-state chain of convenience stores in the Southern United
- The nation’s largest document storage and disposal company.
- A storied New York stadium.
- Numerous, multi-location banking and ATM facilities.
- A major automobile manufacturing site on the West Coast.
BEST IN CLASS PRODUCTS AND TRAINING
As a true systems integrator with a national footprint, Red Hawk carries
multiple manufacturers to tailor the right solution to the specific
needs of the customer.
“When it comes to products, Red Hawk brings the expertise and
knowledge of the industry to our customers by working with best in
class product manufacturers. Because we have a national presence,
we can offer sensible solutions at competitive prices in addition to
well-trained technicians,” said Rick Tampier, Red Hawk’s senior director
for Product Strategy and Sales.
“Keeping up with the changes in technology is one of the ways
Red Hawk is able to differentiate ourselves from smaller systems integrators.
Understanding the businesses and the markets for each customer
means we are able to co-author solutions that make the most
sense for them,” said Tampier.
Technician training presents a challenge for all integrators. Red
Hawk works to support its technicians at the local level through training
on technology whether its wireless or network technologies then
concentrates on getting them certified for various products as well.
“We’re always going to have certified technicians within individual
districts but the idea is to have them better trained as technicians on
microprocessors and networking because every product is a computer
of some kind. We also have centers of excellence and a national support
center staffed by engineers and specially trained technicians who
can stage and test systems remotely as well as conduct remote programming
and trouble-shooting for teams in the field.” Tampier said.
DEEP EXPERIENCE, A COMMUNITY
FOCUS AND DIVERSE FUTURE
Red Hawk enjoys a wealth of expertise with industry veterans who
have 25, 30 or more years of experience and long-term, trusted customer
relationships. The company plans to continue building on that
solid foundation while also recruiting, training and hiring younger
talent. An initiative in Florida, partially funded by Red Hawk, supports
a college-level training and apprenticeship program for alarm
technicians to help enlist young people into the business and prepare
them for success in the industry.
“As a good corporate citizen, Red Hawk gives back to the communities
we serve in a variety of ways that matter,” said Red Hawk’s
Senior Director of Marketing, Michael Lohr.
Red Hawk has donated and installed a fully integrated fire, life
safety and security system to veteran’s outreach organization, A Soldier’s
Best Friend, which pairs service animals with U.S. Military
veterans. Teams from Red Hawk’s Boca Raton headquarters contributed sweat equity to help build a company sponsored Habitat
for Humanity home in South Florida. The company is contributing
support and expertise for the creation of a national sport security
laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi to address the
evolving security concerns at U.S. spectator sports venues. Red
Hawk teams from Massachusetts to Miami and Houston to Los Angeles
collect and distribute food and clothing to those most in need
in their communities.
“These efforts represent a cornerstone of the organization’s commitment
to local communities that are growing along with Red
Hawk’s business,” Lohr said.
“We look at growth inside our business and know it has to be
multi-faceted. We plan to deliver for national accounts and make important
additions by acquiring some companies. We also expect to
become, over the years, much larger in the security integrations business
than fire, but service, maintenance and monitoring agreements
remain an important part of the mix,” McWilliams said.
Finally, it’s the Red Hawk teams in the local district offices who are
empowered to make decisions for their local markets without a lot of
the red tape you might find at a larger company.
“Yes, our local Red Hawk leaders have certain rules, best practices
and customer-established service requirements, but apart from some
review and support from senior management our local managers and
technicians know their markets and their customers and ultimately
are the ones who deliver on our commitment to customers,” McWilliams
It’s an entrepreneurial, grassroots approach to customer service and
the formula for success as Red Hawk continues to nurture the kind of
growth that keeps it the biggest small company in the business.
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Security Today.