A combination of continual investment and a desire for ongoing improvement – backed up by industry accreditations – has enabled fire and security specialist Senseco Systems Ltd to achieve strong growth in recent years with further expansion also looking likely for 2017.
“Senseco has been in operation for around eight years but most of the team here have actually been working together for over 20 years,” explains Lee Thompson, Senior Business Manager. “This level of expertise and experience has proven invaluable in allowing us to operate in a wide variety of different markets, mainly across London and the south-east, including a number of high-end sectors such as commercial offices, corporate buildings and data centres. As a consequence of this diversity we have been able to grow steadily. Two years ago our turnover was £6m, last year it was £8m, and for the current financial year, which ends in May, we’re hoping to increase it to around £9m.”
In addition to its combined experience as a business, another significant element behind the steady growth that Senseco has enjoyed is the cast-iron accreditations that underpin its processes and systems. “From the very beginning we have looked to set ourselves apart from our competitors,” adds Mr Thompson. “This is reflected in our name, which is an amalgamation of ‘Sense’ and ‘Eco’, as we specialise in fire and security ‘sensors’ and because we’ve implemented a very ‘eco’-friendly approach from the outset. In fact, when we launched Senseco we were the first and, as far as we know, continue to be, the only carbon neutral certified fire and security company within the UK.
“We hold accreditations such as BAFE SP203-1 & LPCB/BRE LPS1014, which underlines our competency in fire detection and alarm, covering everything from design and installation through to commissioning and maintenance; and BAFE SP203-3, which is a specific accreditation related to gaseous fire suppression. There are very few companies in the industry that hold such an accreditation. The fact that we have worked so heavily to improve our gas extinguishing expertise has set us in good stead when operating in the data centre market and sectors with similar needs.
“All of these standards involve audits that help us to tighten up our procedures, processes and compliance. We have therefore upped our standards right across the board to make sure that we’re delivering an extremely high level of service, which in turn has allowed us to carve out a strong niche within the marketplace. We also welcome the launch of standard BSEN16763:2017 ‘Services for Fire Safety and Security Systems, which focuses purely on service delivery, this is something we are reviewing & looking to adopt. We see this as particularly important in an increasingly commercially driven market place. We looked at a comparison of maintenance quotes recently and when you take into account a company’s shift rate and the quantity of devices to test, it was clear with some company’s proposals that not all devices could be tested, which is a requirement for compliant maintenance. These are life safety systems so competence and compliance are critical and must come first, rather than the cheapest price. Our accreditations give our clients this peace of mind.”
Assisted by a growing workforce that currently stands around the 90-employee-mark, investing in its people and infrastructure are also key to Senseco’s growth. “Apprenticeships are an integral part of our business and we take on apprentices for office based roles and engineering roles. In addition to new intakes and apprentices at different stages of their journey, we have employees in various roles through to management level that have come through our apprenticeship programme. We work hard on employee engagement and creating a pleasant environment to work in, with significant investment in our head office building. We have also invested heavily in technology to stay at the forefront of our industry, ensure clients get an efficient service and staff have seamless systems to work with that they have an input in developing.”
Senseco has also benefitted from the support of a select group of key suppliers with which it has built strong working relationships. “Thanks to our robust internal infrastructure and well-developed supplier network, rather than just going for the jobs that everyone else is chasing, we have been able to think outside the box when it comes to tendering for projects. Our skills set and high level of expertise enables us to tackle large and complex developments. Very few firms have the accreditations and expertise that we hold as a company to tackle such projects.”
As it looks to make the most of its unique strengths as a business, Senseco is seeing growing opportunities within the data centre marketplace, while another significant sector for the company has involved tall buildings and skyscrapers, particularly in London. “We’re working on a high volume of these types of projects, both in terms of installation of new systems and maintenance of existing systems,” says Mr Thompson. “These buildings tend to be quite complex because they consist of an integrated fire alarm along with a voice evacuation system. Because of their complexity they involve a number of challenges but we’re very experienced in overcoming them. What’s more, as we’re not tied to any single manufacturer we’re able to choose the best solution for each individual project.”
“We work hard on employee engagement and creating a pleasant environment to work in, with significant investment in our head office building. We have also invested heavily in technology to stay at the forefront of our industry, ensure clients get an efficient service and staff have seamless systems to work with that they have an input in developing.”
Lee Thompson, Senior Business Manager
With 2017 well and truly upon us, Senseco is now committed to maintaining the impressive momentum it has built up for the rest of the year. “We’ve submitted a high number of tenders for new developments and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow by building on our strengths in the areas that we specialise in currently, which includes robust maintenance and system upgrades.
“An area that we’ve been particularly successful in recently involves replacing and upgrading fire systems in live working buildings, whether it’s offices, hotels or corporate headquarters. As systems come to the end of their working life we’ve been very adept replacing them, as we’re able to build a mock up of the client’s system offsite with the entire configuration on our own premises. We’ve then been able to demonstrate this system to the client before going to their site and carrying out a seamless change over in a live environment. This has proven to be very successful with many of the upgrade projects that we’ve completed, which in turn is leading to a growing number of opportunities.”
To support the growth it is seeing, Senseco has been recruiting new personnel and strengthening its infrastructure internally. This is an approach that is continuing in 2017. “We’re looking to bring in more sales people to better manage the increasing enquiries we’re receiving on the back of growing demand we’ve generated,” concludes Mr Thompson. “As always we’re investing and recruiting in all areas of the business. Taking on apprentices and engineers is an ongoing process and we’ve invested heavily in our service department in terms of management and service desk staff, along with our projects team as well as increasing our technical resource. This has given us a comprehensive foundation on which to build, as does the fact that we’re very driven from a technological perspective and use remote diagnostics and other innovations to improve our efficiency and provide clients with a level of service that is a little bit different to what is available elsewhere. We’re also very proactive when it comes to reducing instances of false alarms and have worked hard in this particular area too, even offering our FAITH guarantee against false alarms. It’s all about paving the way for the future.
“We’re aiming to grow further but in a controlled manner. Looking ahead to 12 months’ time, I’m hoping to have exceeded our current rate of expansion thanks to a strong pipeline of projects, both for new build developments and life-cycle replacements, supplemented by additional maintenance contracts that provides us with a solid source of ongoing work for the months ahead.”
With its long-term strategy, coupled with its continual investment programme, Senseco certainly looks well placed to keep making the most of the opportunities within the marketplace that its unique expertise is allowing it to capitalise on.