State Systems Touts Growth With Re-Branding Campaign

Monday, February 18, 2008, Vol. 123, No. 33

UNDER REVIEW: State Systems Inc. Vice President Kevin Fleming, left, examines a building elevation with President Robert G. McBride. -- Photo By Rosalind Guy

With makeover TV shows such as "What Not to Wear" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" popularizing the concept of improvement of some sort, now is as good a time as any for a makeover. It seems the same can go for a business in need of a new image.

Memphis-based State Systems Inc., a company that bills itself as a total protection company, offers fire protection equipment, prevention training and cleaning services. It recently added a new technology services division.

Now the 97-employee business is in the midst of finalizing plans for a re-branding campaign. It will include introducing a new logo and a revamped Web site.

The company's logo has remained untouched since Robert G. McBride and his father, Robert T. McBride, bought State Systems more than 20 years ago. The Web site has much the same feel as it did when it was launched 15 years ago.

"We felt like it was very important for us to restate to our customers exactly what it is that we do from the Web site standpoint," said Robert G. McBride, who is the company's president. "We haven't put a lot of time or effort into that recently, so we need to show them who we are by upgrading that Web site, adding our new division-the technology division-and helping the customers understand exactly what it is that we can do for them."

Moving ahead

State Systems has been working with local marketing firm Obsidian Public Relations, as well as two other agencies to develop the new look for the logo and Web site.

And, although the plans aren't finalized, McBride said he's seen what soon will be the company's new brand and he's satisfied with it.

"It's going to be fairly similar but we're going to come out with four different colors that will complement each division," he said. "So our fire protection division will be in red, and our cleaning division will be in a lighter blue and so forth. So, yes, we've seen the logos and just about have them finalized. It'll still say State Systems, but it'll be presented a different way."

The company vehicles and other company-related materials will bear the new logo in the next 30 to 90 days, McBride added.

State Systems has four divisions: one that handles fire extinguishers and restaurant fire suppression systems; one that takes care of cleaning restaurant vent hoods and ductwork; a security and low-voltage division; and the new technology division.

The company services a variety of customers within a 150-mile radius of Memphis, with offices in Obion and Jackson, Tenn. The company also has technicians in Oxford, Miss., Jonesboro, Ark., and throughout West Tennessee.

State Systems has grown considerably since McBride and his father, who retired nine years ago, took it over.

"It was a very small company in 1986, so we didn't start it from the ground, but it was almost like that as it was just an extremely small company back then," he said. "We've grown it from two employees to 97 employees today."

Back then, McBride owned Zee Medical Services and his father was in retail. Both were looking for something they could own together. McBride said State Systems seemed like it would be a natural offshoot of the business he already owned. Zee Medical was an industrial safety and first-aid supply company.

"I sold Zee Medical back in 1995 and just continued my efforts at State Systems," McBride said.

Growing and growing

McBride, who has acquired numerous businesses over the years, has set his sights on a couple of businesses that he hopes to buy this year.

"We see good things coming in 2008," McBride said. "The outlook is extremely good for us. We're looking at other acquisitions. We're in discussion with (other companies) currently that (have acquisition potential) for 2008."

Because the deals aren't final, McBride declined to name the companies.

In the past couple of years, State Systems has bought three companies: Obion, Tenn.-based Wyrick Fire Protection, Memphis-based Critical Path and Memphis-based Cole Communications.

State Systems also recently was the recipient of a prestigious industry award. The company was named the ANSUL Double Diamond Alliance Partner for the 2007 fiscal year. The Diamond Alliance recognizes ANSUL distributors for outstanding performance in the sale of special-hazards fire protection equipment.

ANSUL Inc. is a brand of fire suppression and building products.