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Behind the List with Richard Fix, president of Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech SuppressionRelationships and customer service

Running a small business can be challenging.

With a fluctuating economy, remaining viable within a respective industry can have its ups and downs. Fortunately, there are resources to help your business.

One is the Small Business Administration, while Alarm Tech Systems Inc. and Alarm Tech Suppression in Leesport are examples of businesses that used an SBA loan to their advantage.

Here to answer this week's “Behind the List” questions is Richard Fix, president of Alarm Tech Systems Inc. and Alarm Tech Suppression.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long have Alarm Tech Systems Inc. and Alarm Tech Suppression been operating in the Greater Lehigh Valley and what are its primary services?

Richard Fix: I am a journeyman electrician who started Alarm Tech Systems in 2002 with a partner who owned and operated an electrical contracting company. The fire alarm system installation is included in the electrical bid on construction projects and can be a nuisance. … It is typically a low priority to the installing electricians, who often had difficulty scheduling with the fire alarm vendors.

Identifying the need, I created a company that not only supplies the fire alarm equipment but provides a turnkey alternative to electrical contractors. The company evolved very quickly into a full service fire alarm/security company that supplies and installs not only fire alarm systems but security, video surveillance and access control systems, as well as most low-voltage systems.

As a NICET [National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies] Level IV in Fire Alarm Systems and an ICC [International Code Council] Fire Inspector Level I, I am able to assist our clientele in navigating the red tape of code compliance with confidence.

In 2008, Alarm Tech Suppression was created to provide the clients with a full package of fire protection. Alarm Tech Suppression supplies and services fire extinguishers and kitchen hood suppression systems and performs sprinkler inspections and minor repairs.

My wife, Melissa, has worked by my side for 10 years and has been integral to the day-to-day operations of both companies.

I acquired all company stocks in September 2013 and became the president of both Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest hardships and opportunities Alarm Tech Systems Inc. and Alarm Tech Suppression have encountered throughout their years in business?

Fix: Of course, the slowdown in construction in 2008 impacted the bottom line, however the fact that fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and kitchen hood suppression systems are required, by code, to be serviced regularly kept both companies profitable.

Developing relationships is extremely important to our success. We have worked for years to maintain relationships with many electrical contractors and developers who trust us to protect their buildings. The company was built on the importance of customer service, and we continue to strive for excellence.

LVB: In 2013, you received a loan from the Small Business Administration. What changes have you made to the business after receiving the loan?

Fix: The Small Business Administration Loan was used to acquire the stocks for both Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression. Since the acquisition, we purchased new vehicles and much-needed equipment and are working to expand the operation to include on-site cylinder hydro-testing.

LVB: How do Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression directly stimulate the local economy?

Fix: All 17 of our employees are Berks County residents. It is our policy to frequent local businesses, especially those with whom we have a business relationship, and we encourage our staff to do the same. We feel it is very important to support the small businesses in our communities.

LVB: What does the future look like for Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression? Do they have plans for growth?

Fix: Business is better than ever for both Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression, and we are on target to have the best year in the history in 2014.

In addition to holding licenses in many Pennsylvania jurisdictions, both Alarm Tech Systems and Alarm Tech Suppression are licensed in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey, giving us quite a reach in the industry.

We continue to grow our businesses and are actively searching for installers to join our team.

Compiled by christopher holland

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