ISI Security (ISI) is a large specialty commercial and institutional (detention) security contractor based in San Antonio, Texas. ISI is a dual-track organization, designing and installing both physical and electronic security systems to keep people and property either in or out of a given structure. The company has been in business since 1991 and now employs approximately 300 people.
The crew works nationwide in correctional security with offices in seven locations across the western United States, including in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Corpus Christi. The company’s out of state locations are in Orange, Calif., and Greenville, Wisc. Currently, the business serves commercial clients across Texas, though recent growth may stimulate an additional expansion of these services.
Ray Gilley, president and CEO of ISI, leads the team with more than three decades of experience in the electronic security industry. “I started right out of high school when I was 19,” Gilley recounts. “I only got into correctional facility services in 2012. I was recruited by ISI to run the commercial security segment. A change in leadership allowed me the opportunity to run both sides of the business. Altogether, I have been in the industry for 34 years.”
A highly skilled team of professionals offers ISI’s customers a full-service approach to security systems. The crew works closely with customers to design systems that meet the physical and functional needs of a space. Installation experts install systems in customers’ buildings, and in some cases hooking everything up to a high-tech monitoring center.
Customers have access to full documentation for every project and can count on the ISI team for maintenance throughout the life of a system. Whether designing and installing bars, mesh, mechanical doors or electronic controls for high-security detention facilities, or access control, video surveillance and fire prevention equipment for commercial clients, the firm stands by a high level of quality, durability and value.
ISI has been involved in a number of unique security projects over the years. Recent clients include the state judicial system, detention facilities and even educational institutions.
Correctional projects over the past year include the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico, Calif., a 750-bed, 180,000-square-foot correctional institution. ISI provided security design and installation services for two courthouses in California: Yolo Superior Courthouse in Woodland, Calif., as well as Kings County Courthouse in Hanford, Calif.
The crew has been busy on the commercial end, as well, performing a number of contracts to enhance the security of businesses and organizations. The team’s recent work includes the new U.S. courthouse, as well as the newly refurbished Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas. Additionally, ISI is tackling Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where the team is installing a mass notification system throughout the campus. ISI also recently installed a complete fire detection system at the Menil Museum in Houston.
Growing in a Tough Market
Gilley and his team have gotten through a few tough years. While he says he has noticed gradual improvement in the economy, there are still challenges in the industry. “Our struggles are similar to a lot of people,” Gilley explains. “We need to sell more and we need more projects. There is definitely still a margin of compression. We aren’t seeing the margins we were before the recession. The biggest challenge is unearthing projects and winning them, still sometimes not at the margins we are looking for. We are doing well so far, though.”
Stiff competition has played heavily into the struggles faced by many industries throughout the slow economic recovery. Gilley and many others have found that some contractors will do whatever it takes to get a job, even if that means sacrificing margins to the extreme.
“You always have someone who has cut the price down to the bone in order to just buy business,” Gilley elaborates. “If you get into a situation with a competing contractor who is doing that, you have to be able to beat that price. ISI will not do that just to win a project. Until they wake up, that’s the reality.”
In order to keep those margins profitable, ISI is under tight management. “Sales are big for us,” Gilley continues. “As a fairly large company, we have to make sure we have enough to keep the engine moving. We look at the margins and the financial metrics like any business to make sure we are going forward, not backward. That means for each individual project, we are looking at our equipment and labor to make sure we are performing a job as it was sold.”
In the coming years, Gilley and his team plan to continue on a path of steady growth. ISI is an industry-leader in security solutions. The large team’s reputation and skill level ensures that as the demand for these services endures so will the business. “We understand this market,” Gilley explains, “And our guys really know what they are doing. That is what attracts our customers.”
With the economic recovery on track, albeit at a snail’s pace, ISI is looking to expand when the time is right. The company’s background in correctional security shows customers that the team can handle just about anything. Gilley would like to see the commercial end of the business expand outside of Texas. As ISI Security moves into its third decade of service, the team maintains a commitment to consistent quality and customer satisfaction.
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