Speaking From Experience

Shutterstock/ Philip B. Espinasse
Shutterstock/ Philip B. Espinasse

COSCO Fire Protection operates out of 10 locations in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

The Brea, Calif., company offers services in two general areas. The first is fire suppression systems that includes wet and dry sprinkler systems, special hazard suppression systems (chemical, gaseous and foam), restaurant kitchen hood systems and fire extinguishers.

The other is fire alarm and detection systems that include alarm and detection control panels, heat, smoke and gas sensors, alarm notification systems, voice-activation systems and emergency lighting systems.

The company’s alarm division represents about 20% of the total revenue and is home to 200 of the total 900 employees.

“Overall, we tend to specialize in fire protection and fire alarms, and we don’t do a lot of access controls or high-end security,” said John Strohecker, vice president of the alarm division.

The company does work in various areas, such as airports, commercial, educational, entertainment, government, healthcare, manufacturing and military facilities, along with multibuilding residences, public projects, retail shopping malls, sports complexes and utilities.

“While we do serve all of these types of customers, our primary customers are utilities, manufacturing facilities, higher education and healthcare,” Strohecker said.

To market itself, COSCO works closely with a number of large electrical contractors.

“We have such a close relationship that these contractors often search us out and contract with us to do their specialty work,” he said.

In addition, the alarm division has built a number of direct relationships with some very large customers to perform inspection and service work, such as Boeing, UCLA and the University of Southern California.

Besides marketing itself, COSCO’s work is in demand for a number of other reasons related to its competitive advantages.

One of these is that the company has a very large training center.

“We can also take on jobs that are more technical in nature because our people have the special skills that are necessary,” Strohecker said.

Some examples include high-level specialized gas detection and specialized air sampling systems for high-value projects.

COSCO also prides itself on professionalism. It is a member of the NFPA, the National Fire Sprinkler Association and the Fire Suppression System Association.

Furthermore, it offers turnkey services for its projects including design, installation, service, inspection and repairs.

“We also get hired because we have the financial ability to do large projects,” he said.

COSCO also gets a lot of work because of its commitment to safety. The company’s reputation, experience and size allow contractors to work on some massive projects, including L.A. International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, San Diego International Airport, L.A. Police Department Headquarters, Microsoft, Seattle Convention Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Center museum complex, Home Depot Sports Arena and the Staples Center.

For example, at LAX, the company provides specialty detection services and controls for fire sprinkler systems for the airport.

“We also do all of the inspection and repair work for Southern California Edison and PG&E,” Strohecker said.

Currently, the company is involved in a large retrofit project for the L.A. Metro that involves the installation of fire alarm systems, suppression systems and special hazards systems for 48 of their train stations.

COSCO was also involved in work on USC Village, which is the largest development in USC’s history, covering 15 acres and costing $700 million. USC Village features over 104,000 square feet of shopping, dining, entertainment and exercise facilities. It is also home to 2,500 students who live dorms and apartments, which feature multipurpose rooms, group study rooms, individual study rooms, outdoor areas, gyms, a media room and a dining hall.

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