Point Monitor Corporation was started in 1999 by Mark Higgins to address the clear need in the low voltage systems market for a solutions-focused company with integrity and professionalism that could deliver results. In the 22 years following our humble launch, the company has grown to 100+ employees in 3 locations, being quite successful, enjoying low employee turnover and adding plenty of new capabilities along the way. Employee-owned and merit-based, the Point Monitor family of companies is admired as the market leader now in the Pacific Northwest for fire, security and communications systems, continuing to display steady growth of both amazing team members and satisfied customers every year.
Back in 1999, the fire alarm market was dominated by national manufacturers focused on securing projects by any means and then tending to holding those building owners simply by means of being the only provider and servicer for the equipment installed. There was little mention of client needs planning, customer service, or long-term relationship between property owner and systems provider. Recognizing this, Mark Higgins left a leadership position at one of those major manufacturers to start something different. He created a company with a culture based on integrity, execution, planning, and long-term mutually beneficial and honest relationships. He chose to pursue business relationships where a “win-win-win” can be achieved between Point Monitor, its end-user client sites and the contractors involved with building and maintaining facilities and their fire, security and communication systems. This includes partnership with electrical and general contractors of choice for the building owners, as well as specialty contractors such as sprinkler contractors, elevator service companies and others. From Mark Higgins’ home in Aloha, Oregon, Point Monitor Corporation got its humble start with no customers and no other employees, but with a solid understanding of the trade and what customers wanted.
Having first focused on assisting electrical contractors start up large systems on new construction projects, Point Monitor became a valuable partner to them, as is still the case to this day. Meeting a need and helping others succeed became the impetus for adding professional staff and assistants. In 2001 Rick Welch began a near 20 run with the company as the first full-time employee, helping with design, CAD drawings and field installation and service, working right alongside Mark Higgins. In early 2002, Ben Breit joined the group and rapidly grew in knowledge and responsibility, recently achieving the distinction of managing a division of the company at this time as VP of the Commercial Business Unit. By the time the team of four was outgrowing the space on Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy in Beaverton, there were loyal repeat customers in Portland, Vancouver, Pendleton, Grants Pass and Medford. It was time to expand to meet the strong demand for excellence. Successful completion at high-profile projects such as Domaine Serene winery and Newport Recreation Center occurred during this period, as well as assisting bringing online systems at Two Rivers Correctional in Umatilla and NORCOR in The Dalles.
In late 2002 the company moved to its Oleson Road space, with conference room, considerably larger office space, a small warehouse and bench test area. Employees were being added to handle growth due to providing high quality shop drawings, responsive field support on part & smarts systems packages to electrical contractors, as well as turnkey systems installation for those customers that desired a total solution from one company. Point Monitor provided options for both…and still does…so that what best suits each customer is what is offered. By this time Point Monitor had entered the small commercial market, providing all low voltage systems (fire alarm, security and visitor entry systems, CCTV, teledata, cable TV) for several apartment projects, condominiums and independent living facilities. The company was entrusted with a massive Trammell Crow apartment complex which became known as Deveraux Glen in 2003. Point Monitor’s expertise had simultaneously already been tapped to provide fire alarm and other systems for major projects such as Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, Plaza Retirement in Myrtle Creek, the Jasmine Park complex in Grants Pass, and Cornelius Pass Corporate Center in Hillsboro. Next came several large projects in the Pearl District and surrounding areas of Portland, including high-rise voice evacuation and smoke control systems in Museum Place South and Pacific Tower, as well as the high profile Sitka Apartments project in the Pearl, with extensive fire alarm, CCTV, access control and security solutions. Additionally, we had entered the industrial market, having completed systems for ATG in Hillsboro and a pair of unique application remote control security systems for natural gas recompression stations in Shoetree, Oregon and Radar, California. Point Monitor was also chosen to design and provide extensive fire and detection systems campus-wide for the new Bridgeport Village stores in Tualatin, Oregon, providing the original code-approved design, all addressable Notifier fire alarm equipment, professional panel terminations and custom programming for twelve buildings and over 50 tenant spaces, successfully executing all the work over a 30 month period.
Before the growing company departed the Oleson Road location, future key executives had joined the team in various roles. Joanne Corrigan joined the team in 2003 to assist in the office (presently serving as VP Multi-Family Business Unit), Jane Ackerson joined at the end of 2004 to do business development for the service side (now in her 17th year with the company as VP Life Safety Services Business Unit), and Michael Callaway came aboard in 2005 to oversee field quality control (elevated in 2020 to VP Field Operations for Portland-Metro area).
Rapidly increasing headcount to effectively manage the workload and the size and breadth of projects coming in the door and of the growing installed base requiring monitoring, servicing and testing, migration to a larger office with triple the footprint was completed in 2006 to what is now known as Parkside Business Center. The growth of the staff and the pressing demand for Point Monitor’s services had been so strong in the region in the run-up to the move, that on the day the team moved in, Mark Higgins negotiated an additional adjacent office space and the lines were drawn on the wall where the adjoining door would be. Point Monitor was joined by future key leaders Jeremiah Teach, Stephen Cole and Sean Byrne, all now serving in significant roles within the company in Field Operations. The company fleet expanded rapidly, and the new burgundy Point Monitor became a trusted logo all around town. Full-time dedicated CAD operators and project managers were added as the projects became larger, more complex and more rewarding as well for our growing and tight-knit team. Point Monitor expanded into more nurse call systems, specialty CCTV solutions, aspiration detection in high-tech and industrial facilities, and early radio fire and security monitoring solutions, something that would become a mainstay technology by the time the company moved again. Prestigious Oregon projects were completed during this period such as Hawthorne Gardens in Portland, Stillwater apartments in Lebanon, Emerald Pointe retirement in Keizer and Laurel Parc/Bethany Athletic Club. Nurse call systems and emergency call systems had been added by now as a mainstay offering as Point Monitor began to dominate the assisted-living, memory care and retirement market. Multiple projects in the Pearl District added to the company’s growth and success, as cranes popping up across Portland meant the 2008-2009 recession was over and the marketplace was going to require additional rapid growth for Point Monitor.
In 2011 the company added Heidi Messer who immediately began to help manage the growing need for our services and for coordination of service and testing dispatch. Simultaneously the company added a full-time representative focused on the school market providing schools and universities opportunities to benefit from Point Monitor’s services and broadening systems options, including school intercom, hybrid phone systems and emergency communications. Projects were completed with Portland State University, Lewis and Clark College, Concordia University and several K-12 school districts in the area, and they were completed on-time and under budget.
As the team grew, so did the opportunities for more eager individuals wanting to learn a trade and be a part of a successful organization. Point Monitor became one of the largest and most successful training agents in the Portland area, bringing on apprentice candidates and investing in their desire to become limited energy electrician professionals. Point Monitor still enjoys the reputation as the best place to learn the trade in a broad way, and the company has been blessed to have retained many of these fine workers as the company matured and expanded its footprint and its influence. Expansion also meant growing pains, but people stepped up to meet that challenge, and the company invested in technology and even custom software to allow the growing team to keep up with the volume of commitments and data. A custom Traxxess database application started in 2010 is still in use today and has evolved to keep pace with the company’s growth and data processing needs. It is maintained by an internal brain trust, able to improve, adapt and maintain the company’s accounting and data management processes, integrating with Quickbooks and other applications as necessary for smooth and automated client billing, labor and equipment tracking and project management needs. 2006 – late 2012 was a period of growth but also a period of maturing, of systematization, and of getting the means in place to manage a business that would scale.
In February of 2013 Mark Higgins negotiated a lease with an option to buy at the present Lake Oswego complex in Lakeview Blvd. In less than a year the company had moved in, remodeled certain areas and had executed the purchase of the building.
2013 was also the start of Point Monitor entering the fire extinguisher and hood business to complement the fire alarm systems and service offering, including preventive maintenance. City Fire in Longview was purchased from Hamer Electric and those customers began to be serviced in SW Washington from a small office. Brook Chapman joined the team at that time and immediately began to contribute in the areas of estimating and management, overseeing operations there, expanding the staff and managing monitoring accounts for our partner Longbell Security Resources. Within two years that office had expanded, the staff increased, and Point Monitor purchased those monitoring accounts from Longbell and continued to serve them under the Longbell name.
From 2012 to 2016 the company went from 28 individuals to a 90 person team, with major business segments of the company organically and necessarily operating semi-independently, from the TI department (which later became the Commercial Division) to Facilities Division and Multi-Family. The Life Safety Services wing of the company was a success in adding more and more sites for which Point Monitor was responsible to monitor and provide code-required periodic fire alarm testing. Hand-held fire extinguishers and kitchen hoods were added to service packages for the convenience of the customers, and the team grew again to accommodate the demand. Major fire alarm and access control contracts were secured with various school districts, including massive contracts with Portland Public Schools, all completed by the end of 2020, even during a year characterized by major interruptions to business and to our way of life.
In 2016 Point Monitor adapted again and added IT services, being able to manage computer networks, servers, backups, etc., and began providing managed services to existing or outside clients, with computer helpdesk support, project capabilities, remote monitoring and management of updates, all available remotely through an investment in technology to accomplish this, but also being able to go on-site to assist our clients with workstations, servers, WIFI networks, and VOIP phones. What started out as just a two-man team within Point Monitor, the IT Security department became SecurePoint LLC, and is still serving and expanding in 2021.
Point Monitor is engaging in buyout opportunities along the way with industry partners ready to retire or changing the way they do business, having completed by 2019 five buyouts of companies or groups of monitoring accounts, and view this as another way to grow the business and provide a safe haven for customers and employees of other firms that are ready and desire an opportunity to be a part of something successful.
By the time the company had hit 20 years in existence, we were 100+ employees strong, had grown to fill the Lake Oswego building that once appeared to be more space than we could ever need, have moved to larger space a second time in Vancouver, and had bought a building in Central Point which we are now proud to call our Southern Oregon branch, serving our many customers with a team of three outstanding technicians.
Lastly, with the continued growth and success, it was recognized that the company and its present divisions had grown to a size which required new thinking and a new structure. A blueprint was put in place in recent years to reorganize into Business Units for the estimating, design-build and proposal process, a better way to manage the business side of our valuable customer relationships, and on the field side to spawn a cluster of very capable Operations Groups for execution of the work, gathering these under our new Field Operations Division. The migration to this specialized but decentralized model is completing now in 2021, and has already increased Point Monitor’s ability to adapt and optimize how our customers are served, and to know in advance what we know we can tackle as an organization. Point Monitor has the values, the expertise, the resources, and the amazing team to continue its success story into a blessed future, the next leg up, the new solutions to be designed, and the next adventure of success and customer service.