Fisk has all the right moves to capture the casino and hospitality market

Driving down the Las Vegas Strip is some kind of experience for first-timers. Words like ‘surreal’ and ‘breathtaking’ just don’t seem descriptive enough. The casinos that loom along the street and in the distance are majestic marvels of architectural ingenuity and represent an oasis for both mind and body.

Hotels and casinos make Las Vegas what it is today. The mere mention of “The Strip” makes one automatically think “Vegas, baby!” But the Las Vegas of today is far beyond what it once was. Long gone are single-story hotels and motels with a few slot machines lining the perimeters. Now, they have been replaced or updated with state-of-the-art everything, including low-voltage, data, and communications systems—and more.

Because of what Las Vegas has become, the landscape, the scenery, the offerings and the casinos themselves are in a constant state of flux and improvement. To remain competitive, each venue needs to outdo the others or at least keep up. This translates into a bundle of opportunity for just about everyone—but especially those in contracting and systems work.

Thousands of guests enter the various facilities on a daily basis, and the fact that Las Vegas never closes also makes it an intriguing arena. The city plays host to 35.5 million visitors annually and reports total revenues for the area at around $32 billion each year, a number that continues to grow.

Fisk knows the market

Discussions about low-voltage and electrical-systems work in the Las Vegas area often includes mention of the Fisk Corp. (www.fiskcorp.com), which caters to area hotels and casinos and handles new construction and retrofits low-voltage work at many of the hotels including the world-famous Venetian, The Bellagio and Aladdin. John R. Fisk started the company in 1913 and laid the foundation for a company that has become an industry leader in turnkey building and business solutions.

Throughout its 91-year history, the company has evolved with the times. Fisk has grown into a recognizable leader in key areas such as structured cabling, electronic security, network integration and other areas of electrical contracting.

The company became a mainstay in Las Vegas in the 1990s. It has been involved with the continual growth and improvement of various casinos and intends to continue to earn that status for the conceivable future, said Lee Vowell, division manager, Fisk Technologies. It takes a lot of dedication, knowledge of the market and persistence to please the customer.

Beyond expectations and imagination

Being that Las Vegas is about all things larger than life, it is no surprise that the casinos and hotels reflect that. In total, there are 130,482 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone.

“The new mega-resorts are vast in scale covering millions of square feet,” Vowell said. “The guest room towers have anywhere from 2,000 to over 3,000 rooms/suites.”

Those properties, in addition to the hotel portions, include gaming areas, restaurants, bars/lounges, showrooms, spas, shops and retail, thrill rides, convention centers and office areas—all in one immense location, which adds to the multiplicity of the job.

In addition to the typical casino and hotel/resort attractions, thousands of conventions come to Las Vegas during the year. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, there were 24,463 conventions within city limits in 2003. Conventions require ample meeting space, with high-speed Internet access, teleconferencing and communications systems and other state-of-the-art hardwired and wireless technologies. Fisk has been involved in a variety of meeting and convention facility projects in the Las Vegas area.

“A great number of the hotel/casino systems now operate on the structured-cabling infrastructure,” Vowell said. “These systems may include voice and data communications, VoIP, Wi-Fi, cellular, slot machines, table games, point of sale, MATV, CCTV, audiovisual, environmental controls and signage. Larger resorts can include upward of 27,000 Category 6 cables, over 30,000 pairs of copper distribution, in excess of 12,000 fiber terminations (both single- and multimode), 5,000 television locations and 4,000 security/surveillance locations.” In order to support such operations Fisk routinely installs thousands upon thousands of feet of wire and cable and more, according to Vowell.

Target marketing

Fisk has successfully shown that target marketing works. The company has earned a reputation that allows it to continue working at some of the most well-known hospitality names on the strip. Learning how to work together is essential and critical in developing a good working relationship with any client, but especially the casino owner.

“The contractor and owner must work very closely together to ensure that the cabling system will support the different topologies and be robust enough to handle the typically large number of changes/additions as well as future uses for the infrastructure,” said Vowell.

The casino industry has its own special sets of circumstances that make it unique, and a little intimidating to those who may not understand them. By learning about this specific customer, Fisk has been able to position the company as a contractor that any casino would be glad to have on board. Fisk understands how business is done, which means that it can do the jobs in a seamless manner and with little or no interruption to the business.

“All our teams work very well together. The high amount of traffic that exists on the strip can be a challenge, but the teamwork-oriented approach makes it easy to work around,” Vowell added.

Managing such complex projects carefully helps ensure that things run smoothly. Vowell described special circumstances with most casino projects by saying: “All of the casino projects are ‘fast track’ construction. We may only have 120 days to install 9,000 outlets and a large copper and fiber backbone system in a multimillion-square-foot structure. And, because of the nature of the construction, major changes may be made to the cabling system on a daily basis.” Sentiments like that may scare off a contractor or two, but Fisk not only feels comfortable working under such conditions, the company has found a way to excel at it.

When one talks about working at such high-profile, high-traffic properties, certain hurdles can’t be avoided. Troy Lee, Fisk project manager, said, “One of the worst problems is finding a lay down [storage] yard for material.” Working with the owners and others, creative solutions are found to keep projects on schedule, he added.

Teamwork makes a difference, in every market. Fisk is a model of a company that succeeds, even when circumstances may not always be ideal.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.