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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 2 weeks ago

Fire protection company on the cusp of a major expansion

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Integrated Fire and Security Solutions currently has clients in 13 Florida counties.

After more than a decade of mostly organic growth, Fort Myers-based Integrated Fire and Security Solutions is on the cusp of a major expansion — in sales volume and geographic markets.

The company, which installs fire alarms, video surveillance, IT infrastructure and access control systems in array of commercial buildings, did about $11 million in revenue in 2018, up 25% from 2017. But behind what officials call a sizable — but undisclosed — investment from Canadian-based private equity firm Newlook Capital, IFSS President Justin Peterson says the firm is poised to enter a new stage. “Now we won’t be as standoffish as we were to follow through on taking on a big project or job,”  Peterson tells Coffee Talk.

The company currently has clients in 13 Florida counties and works out of offices in Tampa, Key West and Coral Springs. Customers include the Key West Airport and the Collier and Lee county school districts.

The Newlook funds will boost the client base to other parts of the state and eventually outside Florida, Peterson says. Officials at Newlook Capital, which also invests in multifamily real estate, dental practices and Canadian quick service restaurants agree. “We see security and fire services as a major growth market, and IFSS has built a rock-solid customer base and strong brand,” Newlook Capital Portfolio Manager Oliver Blum says in a statement. “IFSS is driving exciting integrated systems differentiated by emerging technologies [and] is growing rapidly and gaining substantial market share.

Peterson says he and his business partners founded the company in 2006 after stints working for larger national entities that emphasized corporate bureaucracy over entrepreneurial sprit. “We got together and said, ‘There has to be a better way to do business,’” Peterson says. “We have an ability to make the right decision for the customer without turning to page 65 of some corporate manual.”

Even with the infusion of capital from Newlook, Peterson says one mantra at IFSS will remain the same: to not grow faster than its ability to provide top-notch customer service. Like many in a trades industry, hiring and retaining top people remains a core challenge.

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