meet the integrator
BY WILLIAM ATKINSON
A Sprinkle of This, a Dab of That
LOW VOLTAGE CONTRACTORS
Low Voltage Contractors,
Minneapolis, opened its doors in 1982 and spe-
cialized in design/build low-voltage work from
the start. It focused on fire alarm installations.
However, the company soon realized that
one of best ways to grow and gain more busi-
ness was to provide more comprehensive
“One key to success is being a full-service
low-voltage provider to our customers,” said
Robbie Danko, marketing manager. “That is, we
want to be able to take care of all of the systems
in our customers’ buildings.”
For this reason, the company has always
looked for strategic ways to add new low-
voltage services. In doing so, it usually sets
those services up as new specialty divi-
sions in the company. In 1996, it added a
security division. In 2011, it added a structured
These days, the company is an almost 100
percent full-service, low-voltage company,
providing installation and maintenance of
fire alarms, video surveillance, electronic access control, emergency notification systems,
specialty gas detection, voice/data and smart
Currently, Low Voltage Contractors has 104
employees who work in the company’s three offices: the headquarters in Minneapolis; a branch
office in Tempe, Ariz.; and a new office in Rochester, Minn.
The company does low-voltage work in virtu-
ally all markets, including military, government,
education, healthcare, financial institutions,
energy, transportation, property management,
retail and hospitality. It specializes even further
by focusing the lion’s share of its attention on
three types of customers—Class A commercial
office buildings, healthcare and government. Ac-
cording to the Building Owners and Managers
Association, Class A buildings are “the most
prestigious buildings competing for premier
office users, with rents above average for the
area. These buildings have high-quality standard
finishes, state-of-the-art systems, exceptional
accessibility, and a definite market presence.”
So, with its comprehensive service offer-
ings, is there any area of low-voltage work left
for Low Voltage Contractors to add? There is,
in fact: sprinkler system inspection and repair.
“When we test a building’s fire alarm system, there are always sprinklers that need to be
tested, and we have always had to sub this type
of work out to sprinkler contractors,” said Don
Day, service manager.
Recently, though, two professionals in the
sprinkler testing and maintenance field, both of
whom Low Voltage Contractors had known and
worked with for around 20 years, approached
the company with the idea of creating an in-house sprinkler division.
“These two individuals came to us and suggested that we hire them to start a sprinkler
division in-house,” Day said. “They knew our
company well and liked how we operated, so
they brought this opportunity to us.
“Fire alarm systems and sprinkler systems go
hand-in-hand. We have been subbing out about
half a million dollars of sprinkler work each year.
We will now be able to bring a lot of this work
in-house,” he said.
As such, in April 2015, the company an-
nounced that it would be opening a new
sprinkler inspection and repair division.
“The addition of our sprinkler division will
allow us to inspect existing and new systems
for compliance with fire codes and insurance
requirements,” Day said.
Mike Cruz, one of the two experts, has more
than 30 years of experience in the fire prevention and suppression industry. The other, Brian
Hoffman, recently worked for the City of St. Paul
as a fire protective systems inspector.
“Throughout the history of our company, we
have grown by recognizing untapped opportu-
nities and hiring the best in those industries to
start and grow new divisions,” Danko said.
How is Low Voltage Contractors marketing
the new division? It is focusing on three strate-
gies. The first is to promote the division and its
services to its existing customers.
The second is to focus specifically on three
verticals where the need seems to be the great-
est: healthcare, retail and data centers.
“We offer a product in our service depart-
ment called ‘total compliance management,’”
Danko said. “Total compliance management
streamlines all of the inspection and mainte-
nance of the systems in customer facilities,
especially those that are regulated by govern-
The system also provides documentation with
electronic access. As part of this, Low Voltage
Contractors partnered with sprinkler companies.
“This information has now been able to provide us with a snapshot of what the demand
has been for sprinkler service, as well as what
the expectations for it might be in the future,”
The third marketing opportunity is with the
two experts themselves.
“Since these two have been around so long
and are so well-known, they have an excellent
reputation and are well-known by potential cli-
ents in our region,” Day said.
ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.