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.)
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.)