“Mirroring the Service You Expect” a Hallmark of H&S, Sentra

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series on the origins of H&S Protection Services.)
Steve Garritson started in the alarm industry early in 1980 after reaching his “full university potential,” as he puts it wryly. He joined a small residential security company in Elm Grove, WI, doing installations and service calls. He was later hired as an operations manager by Central Control where he was in charge of the central station and customer service.
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The company sold to Ameritech in 1997, and with frustrations mounting, Steve had a meeting around his dining room table that led to the formation of his own company, Sentra Protective Systems in 1998. “We did security, a little bit of fire alarms, and cameras were just starting to come into play,” Steve (who along with Mike Horgan co-owns H&S Protection Systems) remembers.

“We went to some of our former biggest customers and got a big break. Three came over to our new company – Warehouse Shoes, Guarantee Bank, and St. Francis Savings and Loan,” Garritson says.

Sentra hung its hat on “mirroring the service you expect,” making sure customers knew they could talk to Garritson and his team at any time about any issue, and retaining local control of the business, all qualities he has brought over to H&S.

Steve and Mike developed a close business relationship, along with former partner Chris Utter. As they compared notes, it became clear that one business could be stronger than the two separately, and they began discussions about the best path to merge.

(Stay tuned for Part III of this series on this blog site.)

From Fire Extinguishers to Full Security Service: H&S 1959-2015

(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a short series on the history of H&S Protection.)fire extingisher

From our humble beginnings in 1959 as Horgan Sales, servicing fire extinguishers, we’re proud to have expanded our offerings and joined with Sentra Protective Services to provide a wide range of security services across a larger area of Wisconsin in 2015.  Like the country, we were simpler back then.  Our history reflects both the evolution of business in the United States, and the nature of the fire/security industry.

Dave Horgan, grandfather of H&S Co-Owner Mike Horgan (along with Steve Garritson), started Horgan Sales in Stevens Point in 1959 while working at AT&T.  Selling and servicing fire extinguishers for local businesses, he started operating part-time in the basement of his house.  The mess from the yellow powder used to fill the fire extinguishers was too much for his wife Vernie though, and he found a building in downtown Stevens Point to maintain domestic peace.

Over the next 12 years, Dave Horgan grew the business and added other fire-related services. His son Ed joined the business in 1971, returning to Stevens Point from a sales manager position he held with Proctor and Gamble in New England at the time.  As the fire protection business commoditized, the Horgan’s looked to new markets, adding restaurant suppression products for kitchens, testing of fire extinguishers and hoses, a 24-hour answering service, along with selling and servicing pagers. Slowly, too, employment with the company grew from a one-man show to six offices with upwards of 50 employees.

That was peak employment, and by the late-1980s, the Horgan’s sold the fire division/protection equipment side of the business to focus on the new area of burglar alarms.  The pager and answering service were also sold.  They subcontracted the central station response services and began focusing on electronic security.

(Stay tuned for Part II, as we bring you Steve Garritson’s journey into the industry and the creation of Sentra Protective Systems.)