Brothers Fire and Security, established in 1994, is a fire protection, security and communication company located in Minnesota. With its main headquarters in Elk River and its security operation in St. Cloud, Brothers Fire and Security is dedicated to providing the best service to its customers.
Brothers Fire and Security began 23 years ago when two brothers, who had previously been in the fire/sprinkler industry, decided to start a company that would meet the fire protection, security and communication needs of its customers. “One of the brothers retired and brought another partner in, who retired, and then I came in,” says Stephen Cieslukowski, President of Brothers Fire and Security. “I started out in retail and then went into my family’s industrial gas business, so my skill set was in bringing a very high level of service to very technical businesses. What I’ve been able to do is take technical aspects that people are really good at, inject a very high level of service, and really propel the platform.”
The company focuses on three areas: “Fire protection related (fire sprinklers, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, etc.), security (such as camera solutions and car access control) and communication systems (data cabling, voice and data infrastructure),” says Cieslukowski.
With 95 employees, Brothers Fire and Solutions is a regional company, focused primarily on Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. “We’re also able to provide integrated solutions to customers across the country. With Minnesota Medical – the medical marijuana grower here in Minnesota – we’ve not only provided it with a state wide solution, we’ve also worked with it as it has grown into New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania,” says Cieslukowski.
“Another example is New Horizon Academy – a daycare center with 70 locations,” he says. “It also operates a national program called Kids’ Quest for which we provide a national solution for cameras and access control. The benefit of that is we can provide them with door control and camera access across the country, and then roll that back into a single source headquarters viewing and control operation.”
One aspect of Brothers Fire and Security that sets it apart from its competition is the fact that it is a solution-based provider. “We understand our customers and their needs,” says Cieslukowski. “If we’re working with a traditional fire sprinkler company and already providing it with a very high level of service, we can also take care of its monitoring, alarms and extinguishers. We can provide a high level of product on a wide scale for that company, and simplify the process.”
When referring to the companies that Brothers Fire and Security service, Cieslukowski says, “We can improve their systems, improve their service and simplify their lives; that’s what we do.”
The company is committed to security. “In some ways, it’s a moral commitment,” says Cieslukowski. “My father worked in the industrial gas business and was the safety director of his industry association. He would say, ‘you have a moral commitment to your employees because they come with two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes, and I expect them to leave that way because I think we have an obligation to do that.’ I’ve heard that since I was 10 years old and I believe that. I believe that productivity is also a function of safety and I just believe it’s the right thing to do.”
To this end, Brothers Fire and Security is governed by three basic principles. “We’re sales-oriented, customer-focused and employee-sensitive,” says Cieslukowski. “Those three areas impact every decision we make. We try to consider what is really the best thing to do for our customers and our customer base, and how will it impact our employees and their ability to accomplish that task. We try to give our employees enough latitude. I believe that people intrinsically want to do the right thing and you have to give them mobility and the freedom to do that.”
The company puts a lot of thought and effort into finding quality employees. “We stick to our core values and we don’t try to grow so fast that we lose what our core values are,” says Cieslukowski. “We like to grow on that nice five, ten, fifteen percent, so that we can add people that are ‘A’ quality, but that also fit within the community and can absorb the values of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
He explains that, “When somebody asks me why I’m so slow to hire people, I tell them it’s because I really don’t like firing people,” says Cieslukowski. Unlike some companies where 100 people are hired in the hopes that six of them stick, Brothers Fire and Security is only interested in the best six. “If I make a commitment to hire somebody, I believe that’s a commitment. And if they don’t work out, a lot of the times, it’s a failure on their end but it’s also a failure on my end. So, I want to make sure that we keep them. When people make a commitment to me, they make a commitment to the company; they bring themselves, and they bring their family, into it. It’s a big decision. So I respect that decision and try to make sure that it works for both ends.”
Brothers Fire and Security is also dedicated to its customers. “We tend to be very reactive to what our customers need; we understanding what they need and act on it,” says Cieslukowski. “We try to be a very genuine, customer-focused group and I don’t think we really have an agenda, other than wanting to help our customers continually be safer, grow and be more productive.”
The company makes use of social media to share some of its success stories, especially those that have a good moral or message that Brothers Fire and Security believes might benefit all of its customers. “We try to bring issues to life that our customers don’t always understand,” says Cieslukowski.
When it comes to the company’s commitment to its customers, there are many examples, one of which is when organizers of a Kiss concert ran into problems. The concert was on a Saturday night, and the head of risk operations called on Thursday to ask for Cieslukowski’s help. Apparently, they needed six CO2 extinguishers, but weren’t sure to get them on time, and the fire marshal wasn’t going to let the concert go on without them. “She called me at 11pm and I told her: ‘no worries, we’ll have them there’,” says Cieslukowski. “I had to drive to Green Bay, Wisconsin to personally pick up the CO2 extinguishers from our vendor and drive them over.
“That’s the commitment we make to customers,” says Cieslukowski. “If they have a problem, they call us and we solve it. When someone has a problem, we want to be the company they think of. We want them to think, ‘we have a problem; let’s call Brothers Fire and Security and they’ll figure it out,’ or at the very least, we want them to know that we will point them in the right direction. We really try to be is the greatest resource. I want my customer base to know that when there are problems, that there are very unique, cost-effective ways that can make their lives simpler and safer.”
Brothers Fire and Security is proud of its many accomplishments. “We’re really proud of the fact that having just gotten into monitoring four years ago, with basically no customers, we now monitor over a thousand customers,” says Cieslukowski. “In terms of inspections and service calls, we do well over 7,000 calls a year. And we’ve just surpassed our two-year benchmark for the data cabling business within 18 months.”
The company now looks forward to expanding its territory. “Not only do we have a great base of employees but we have a great base of products and vendors as well,” says Cieslukowski. “And now that we’ve perfected this model of service and customer care, what we really want to do is take this onto a more national basis. We’ve got a great basket of goods, we’ve got great service and we constantly want more customers because we feel that if we get a customer, we keep a customer, and we can grow near the customers as well as help our customers grow via what we do.”
As Brothers Fire and Security keeps evolving, it aims to continue meeting its customers’ needs with dedication and commitment, while expanding from its impressive regional-based customers to include a more national base. “We want to be a service-oriented national player,” says Cieslukowski.