Powered By Experience

Powered By Experience

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 Washington D.C.

“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 ORGANIZATION

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 systems integration.

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 States.
  • 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 said.

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.

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