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A+ Communications and Security is growing quickly


In October 2001, the founders of A+ Communications & Security were searching for a name for their new firm. They chose A+ because they wanted the company to be listed first in the telephone directory and because of the image the name would convey.

They weren’t successful in the phone book – there are several companies whose names precede A+. But the company’s managers are currently working to ensure that A+, which offers an unusual combination of installation services for both telecommunications and security systems, is the best in Central Iowa.

Their efforts come at a time when communications and security systems are growing increasingly complex, and as the technology for both converges to use the same transmission lines. Corporations, too, are becoming more interested in developing sophisticated security systems to protect workers, facilities and products. All these factors mean that the market for A+’s services is growing.

“There is more integration of systems” than ever before, said Brad Strehlow, who is president of Hy-Vee Weitz and heads A+. “The product has changed. There’s a whole different level of spending, but also a totally different level of security available today.”

A+’s core technicians were once part of AAA Security Systems Inc. That division was later sold to ADT Security Services, which decided it didn’t want to retain telecommunications capabilities.

Hy-Vee Weitz, a joint venture between grocer Hy-Vee Inc. and contractor The Weitz Co., had been using the telecommunications and security services from ADT and when the unit was put up for sale, Hy-Vee Weitz snapped it up. A+ is the first separate company to be housed within Hy-Vee Weitz.

Customers for A+ include Nevada, Iowa-based pizza topping maker Burke Corp., Bob Brown Chevrolet and TruGreen ChemLawn. Next month, A+ plans to begin installing security, telephone and fire detection systems at the 800,000-square-foot warehouse that’s being constructed for Firestone Agricultural Tire Division just north of Des Moines.

In some cases, A+ technicians are using fiber-optic cable to link Hy-Vee’s gas stations with its grocery stores. The cables handle security systems, telecommunications and sales-related data traffic between the two businesses.

The company, whose revenues totaled about $2.1 million last year, has 17 workers and plans to hire as many as 10 more in the coming year, Strehlow said. He expects revenues to double by 2006. Plans are being made to add A+ technicians at other Hy-Vee Weitz locations, including Cedar Rapids, Omaha and Kansas City.

A+ managers said the company can also save customers money because of the versatility of its technicians. A+ currently specializes at working with clients that have up to 200 employees.  

Security features popular now include video equipment and devices that can scan security badges. Biometric technology, which includes fingerprint scanners and other identification equipment, is coming, Strehlow said. A+ is also working to install Internet-based telephone systems, which can save customers long-distance charges.

“We’re using the Internet more and more,” Strehlow said.

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