Case Studies

BCM Controls Corporation

Customizing Building Automation and Security Solutions

BCM Controls Corporation (BCM) is a leading provider of building automation, security systems and energy services. The company is based in Woburn, Mass., serving customers all over New England. BCM works with an assortment of clients, including commercial and institutional organizations in healthcare, biotechnology, education and government agencies. BCM was founded in 1984 and has since experienced steady growth over a span of nearly three decades. The team continues to diversify, staying on top of the latest developments in technology.

Steven L. Feinberg, president of BCM, has been with the business since 1999. At the time Feinberg owned his own company, Orbit Systems Inc. (Orbit), which was bought by BCM. Feinberg assumed his current position in 2010 after Bob Clarke, a founding partner of BCM, retired.

“I got into this industry by accident,” explains Feinberg. “I was helping a friend fix televisions for the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston back in 1989. While in the basement of the hotel, a facilities person asked if we knew anyone that could install security cameras, because John Kerry’s campaign office was moving into the adjacent Statler Building and needed a system. My friend had previous experience with security cameras so we volunteered. Before we knew it we installed our first system, and then retrofitted most of the system in the Statler Building and a business was born.”

Feinberg and his partner built up Orbit for the next 10 years before selling to BCM. “Since the acquisition, I have had the privilege of being trained in building automation and energy services by some of the most highly skilled people in the industry,” says Feinberg. “In addition, my management and leadership skills greatly benefited from the mentorship of Bob.”

Diverse Services

BCM’s team members pride themselves on offering customized solutions and prioritizing customer relationships. “We don’t do canned solutions,” states Feinberg. “We’re focused on individual customer needs, and we are driven to do whatever it takes to get the job done right.” While specific customer details cannot be discussed due to privacy and security concerns, the BCM team has completed some cutting-edge projects, offering secure and energy-saving systems to clients in several sectors.

“Our customers include some of the most recognized worldwide healthcare organizations, Class A office space owners and prestigious universities,” elaborates Feinberg. “We have had the privilege of working with them on numerous projects to address work place comfort, as well as contribute to their green initiatives. Many of our energy-efficiency projects have contributed to LEED accreditation and have a return on investment of less than two years.”

In the security division, BCM has outfitted large federal buildings, statewide transit systems and healthcare organizations. “Our systems and services have contributed greatly to the overall safety of these organizations and we are frequently called upon by law enforcement to assist in investigations,” says Feinberg. “It is very common to see images from our systems on major news networks.”

BCM handles all project management, engineering, installation supervision, software application and field commissioning. Building automation electrical installation is subcontracted using a combination of union and nonunion partners. Security electrical installations are typically self-performed by an in-house, licensed crew, but union installations are performed by strategic partners.

“We rely heavily on our network of suppliers and subcontractors,” relates Feinberg. “Strategic partners are carefully screened prior to establishing a relationship to ensure that they have the capabilities and quality that we require and to verify proper business alignment. On the subcontractor side, electrical installation typically represents over 30 percent of the project. Therefore, it is very important that the quality and accuracy delivered meet or exceed expectations in order to guarantee a satisfied customer.”

Controlled Growth

While BCM offers a diverse range of unique services, the team was not immune to the effects of the economic downturn. “Our industry typically lags the overall economy between 12 and 18 months,” says Feinberg. “We learned some valuable lessons during the downturn in 2001 to 2002. At that time, our service business provided warranty and time/material service, but it was not a key revenue focal point. In addition, much of BCM’s offerings were critically dependent on construction projects. Although BCM weathered the downturn and was able to avoid layoffs, profit levels dipped dramatically.”

In the decade since, the team has shifted focus to expanding the existing service base and utilizing it as a revenue and profit center. These efforts included separating the service department into two, creating independent business units for building automation and security. The team managed to bulk up business by increasing the volume of service agreements and performing more small projects, exceeding customer expectations and growing revenue.

When the recession hit in 2008, BCM was well prepared to enter survival mode. Having survived a previous downturn, Feinberg has put his experiences to work and made changes early on that would guarantee minimal impact.

“First, we carefully and aggressively selected large new construction projects in order to build a sufficient backlog to weather a downturn and also provide additional long-term service,” notes Feinberg. “We developed two new expansion initiatives that would not be dependent on the economy. Our energy-services segment helps customers reduce overall energy spending by providing customized energy-control strategies for their HVAC systems. With integration takeovers, we have also opted to actively pursue servicing the installed base of the largest controls manufacturer in our area.”

As a result of these measures, BCM not only managed to stay afloat, but saw a 75-percent increase in revenue between 2007 and 2012. Feinberg was also able to bulk up BCM’s staff, expanding from 63 employees to 81.

“We utilized the downturn as an opportunity to grow revenues and increase the talent of our workforce,” explains Feinberg. “Challenges still remained as a result of the downturn, primarily related to price pressure. With so few new construction projects being implemented, competition grew and therefore margins were squeezed. In addition, longstanding customers were being approached by competitors seeking to increase their base. While these challenges still exist, BCM has fared well due mostly to the growth in the service area, retaining and growing our customer base by providing exceptional customer service and high employee retention.”

Feinberg and his team have laid the groundwork for expansion in all directions. “I am very excited about the opportunities that exist in both of our primary markets,” says Feinberg.
“Technological improvements in all areas have opened a wide array of expansion opportunities. On the building automation side, there are opportunities to expand our offerings into all areas of energy efficiency. On the security side, the market appears to have no limits in terms of vertical market expansion as well as technology upgrades and improvements. As far as the recovery goes, I am certainly seeing improvement.”

According to Feinberg, bid activity for new construction and large retrofit projects has increased dramatically over the past year. “In addition, existing customers in all of our key verticals have construction or retrofit plans that were on hold just a short time ago,” he continues. “The way I see it, if I didn’t have access to the media, I’d think the economy was doing very well.”

The company is staying the course and continues to push innovative technological solutions that benefit its customer base. BCM Controls Corporation puts customers first, and Feinberg plans to continue expansion based on the founding principles of service and exceeding customer expectations.

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Spring 2018



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