Systems Management Group Celebrates 10 Years

From two business partners and one employee in 2009 to 66 employees and a multi-million-dollar business today, Systems Management Group (SMG) has good reason to celebrate its 10th anniversary in January.

SMG, a division of The Hiller Companies, specializes in full-service, low voltage integration in Arizona and Colorado. Acquired by Hiller and supported by their 100-year history, SMG has a rich history of success on its own.

According to Co-founder and General Manager Terrence Kane, credit for growth and success goes directly to SMG’s high caliber employees.

“Our employees, each and every one, have created the opportunity for us to keep the doors open for the past 10 years,” Kane said. “And because of their hard work, we have had remarkable growth year over year.”

General Manager and Co-Founder Owen Myran noted that he and Kane started the company with a common goal to create a culture at SMG where not only business would thrive, but employees would as well.

“We wanted to grow a company that would take care of its employees, produce excellent customer service and deliver a superior product,” he said. “We are a people-first company. Whether you are an employee or a customer, we treat people with respect and dignity – that’s what drives our success.”

Having such dedicated employees makes the 10th anniversary special to Jenny Todd, Operations Manager.

“I am excited to celebrate our anniversary with an employee appreciation event in January. It is important that our staff knows how much we recognize their contribution to our success,” she said. “We really value times when we can build our relationships outside of the office. From the long-term veterans to the younger, more recent hires, everyone has something important to offer and to teach each other.”

The first employee Kane and Myran hired in 2009 is still with SMG and has been an example of the character of SMG and its employees.

“Gabriel Romo was our very first employee,” Kane said. “Through his dedication, character, and work ethic he has helped set the bar for the qualities we look for in employees. He also represents the opportunity employees have to advance and develop over a long-term career with SMG. He has grown over the years from our first hire into a top employee and lead manager.”

The desire for continued growth for SMG and long-term, limitless opportunities for employees was a driving factor in Kane’s and Myran’s decision to work with The Hiller Companies when Hiller acquired SMG in September of 2018.

“Hiller’s acquisition of SMG has given our employees the opportunity to grow and expand their personal well-being, to receive more training and to increase longevity with the company. It has taken them from a partnership to a career,” Kane shared.

Todd believes the opportunities with Hiller are wide open, but more importantly, the ideals of Hiller support the culture she, Kane and Myran have worked so hard to foster at SMG.

“Culture is vital,” she said. “SMG has always been a family. When Terrence and Owen were discussing SMG’s acquisition by Hiller, it was important to us to maintain that atmosphere. One thing that stuck out during the talks with Hiller was that they were very much a family as well. That’s why it was such a good fit for us.”

As for the future, Kane is excited about continued growth.

“What would make me tremendously happy would be if the company is able to continue growth and to change the core of what we do by adding other disciplines. I would love to add five to ten more locations and three to four more verticals,” he said. “With Hiller, we have a greater possibility of achieving that. I want our employees know that in 10, 15, 20 years, they can retire from a great career with SMG.”

For more information about SMG, please visit our website at

Systems Management Group is a low voltage integrator in the Colorado and Arizona markets that specializes in consulting, designing, installing, servicing, and integrating your low voltage systems; from fire alarms, intrusion alarms, access control, camera systems, audio/video systems, BDA systems, area of refuge systems, telecommunications and data systems, and more. Systems Management Group is a division of The Hiller Companies, Inc.

Hiller’s Year Long Celebration of its 100th Anniversary Continues at the Virginia Branch

Norfolk, VA – On October 2, 2019, The Hiller Companies continued its 100th anniversary celebration in Norfolk with a high-energy party designed to appreciate the past while looking to Hiller’s strong future of continued growth and opportunity. Virginia, one of Hiller’s largest branches, exemplifies the strong connection to the marine industry which is demonstrated by the fact that Hiller systems are on every single naval combatant ship in the fleet.

“Hiller is part of the fabric of the Norfolk community,” Vice President and General Manager of the Marine Division in Virginia Mark Herzog said. “Around here, people are very tuned in to what we do. With the massive military presence here, I would say probably 25 percent of our employees are retired or former military members.”

In planning the celebration, Herzog learned of a story of someone who was working as a part of the entertainment for the event. This man was former military, and when he realized that Hiller was throwing the party, he relayed how he was on a ship in the Navy and a Hiller system saved his life.

“It is important to recognize the impact Hiller has not only on the fire protection industry as a whole, but also on the communities we support,” Herzog said. “We were excited to host a celebration that focused on the future and what’s to come for Hiller and for our branch.”

Herzog started the Virginia Branch in 1985 after working with Walter Kidde. He has been a fixture there, and is an ten-time recipient of the internal Manager of the Year trophy. He is known for his effective team development and ability to recognize potential for growth.

Herzog noted that his background is marine fire protection, and he was able to assemble a team to take a hard push at the marine market in Norfolk. The number of employees grew from one to 115 during the last 34 years. Over time, he also added Commercial and Industrial, Special Hazards, Sprinklers, Security and Access and CCTV Cameras.

“Many of these markets developed organically,” he said. “Often, an employee would walk in the door with a specialty or skill and we would make the best use of that. Keeping an open mind to talent that presents itself is a key to growing and becoming more successful.”

General Manager of the Commercial and Industrial Division, Belinda Arthur, was one of the talents Herzog added to the Hiller team in 1995.

“I was brought on as a sales manager, and I was the only one on the sales team,” she said. “I was basically a sales manager of myself. Now, we have a team of seven outside sales people, three inside sales people and 2 estimators.”

Arthur believes the customer base was ripe for growth at the time she started with Hiller.

“At that time, many customers had multiple fire protection vendors they had to manage – one for inspections, one for repairs, one for fire extinguishers, etc. We began to bill ourselves as their one-stop-shop. I think many customers were happy to be able to call one company and get everything they needed. That was really a key element of what helped us grow.”

Herzog credits Arthur, who was just named Hiller’s 2019 General Manager of the year, with the Virginia branch’s ability to grow and become so successful. He said that her strong background in sales and in the commercial and industrial markets helped the department take off.

Both Herzog and Arthur agree, the biggest reason for the celebration of Hiller’s 100th Anniversary is because of the employees.

“We were excited about the party because it was all about the employees and showing them our appreciation,” Herzog said. “We wanted to recognize all of the employees who have continued the tradition and great reputation of The Hiller Companies.”

Arthur couldn’t have agreed more.

“The 100-year-celebration is about our people. We provide value to our customers, and that comes straight from our employees,” she said and then addressed the future. “We are a 100-year-old company, but we don’t act like one. Some companies that reach this point get settled and comfortable where they are. We are not those companies. I am excited we celebrated the first 100 years, but I am more excited about the next 100 years. We will continue to focus on growing while maintaining our foundation of customer-focused service.”

Hiller Celebrates 100 Years With a Look at the Mobile Branch

Mobile, AL – As The Hiller Companies celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, we are taking a look at the Mobile branch, which holds a unique place in the growth and evolution of the company.  As one of the largest and oldest branches, Hiller Systems Mobile represents innovation, experience, growth and community.

JACO main office
The 1946 office of JACO, which was later purchased by Hiller in 1981 leading to Hiller’s headquarter relocation from New Orleans to Mobile.

“Mobile is a very special place for Hiller,” Chairman of the Board Duncan Greenwood said. “We have a lot of employees with longevity here and have seen a lot of growth and change. Technology has opened the industry up for more and more opportunities, and the Mobile branch has shifted from a primarily marine-based operation to a more even distribution of marine, offshore and commercial business.”

Founded in 1919, The Hiller Companies opened its first office in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1946, Jack Cocke and Company (JACO), another fire protection company, opened in Mobile and expanded to Pensacola, Florida and New Orleans. In 1981, Hiller purchased JACO and in 1988, Hiller headquarters was moved from New Orleans to Mobile.

owner of JACO
Jack Cocke, owner of JACO, at his desk in 1967.

While Hiller is headquartered in Mobile, the local operational branch itself is one of the largest branches and employs more than 100 people. Mobile specializes in comprehensive fire detection and suppression solutions for commercial, marine, and military and government sectors.

“In the Mobile complex, we have done a lot of marine work. We are proud that our systems are on every combatant ship in the Navy,” Greenwood said. “But we have also worked on subway systems and brought Securiplex water mist technology to this branch. That has opened a lot of doors for us.”

Greenwood, who served as President and CEO from 1981 to 2013, has been with the company for more than 40 years and believes that the modernization of the fire protection industry has greatly contributed to growth and opportunity.  Bill Roberts, Director of Marine Engineering, agrees.

“I started here when Hiller was still JACO.  I was on the ground floor when computers came to pass,” Roberts said. “I helped develop flow calculations with the Walter Kidde Company so the people writing the code could write it correctly. We originally did these calculations by hand. Can you believe that? Duncan and I both did them by hand. It’s mind boggling how far we have come.”

Roberts is proud of the legacy the Mobile Branch has and his participation in it.

“I designed the fire suppression systems in the early 70s and 80s for several classes of navy ships. Many of these systems are still in use today,” Roberts said. “I am proud to be a part of our strong and enduring relationship with the military.”

The Mobile Branch is located at the Corporate Office.

As one of the oldest branches in the company, the Mobile branch benefits from many long-term, dedicated employees. Some have been with the company since the JACO days. One such employee is Marine Sales Manager Greg Bloch who has been with Hiller for more than 50 years.

“I started with Jack Cocke in 1969.  My job was the lowest you could go – pipefitter helper.  I couldn’t even see the top from there,” Bloch said. “Was there A/C in the trucks? No way! Radios? No way! I started at $2.50 an hour and worked my way up.”

“Back in the day, I knew Jack Cocke – we just hit it off.  He was a hard worker, and it wasn’t unusual to see him out on the job grabbing a pipe wrench to give you a hand. Duncan Greenwood also played a pivotal role for me. When I was uncertain of my future after Hiller bought JACO, Duncan was the one who made me a deal at a Sunday night dinner. He really knew how to bring out the best in people.”

Bloch worked his way up from pipefitter helper to pipefitter to supervisor to project manager/production manager. He has been a Marine Sales Manager since 2000, and he sees a bright future for Hiller Mobile. Duncan Greenwood agrees.

“For me, it all flows back to the people,” Greenwood said. “While modernization has made things faster and easier, without the people we have at Hiller, we would not be successful. We are always looking for that balance of youth and experience in our workforce to continue to grow.”

Mobile branch specialization
Today, the Mobile branch specializes in both commercial and marine applications, including design, installation, commissioning, training, inspection and service.

Roberts looks forward to the future and after more than four decades at the company, he still feels excited to come to work every day.

“I love my job. I love what I do, and the gratification of knowing my systems could save someone’s life keeps me vested,” he said. “I told Duncan that if I ever get unhappy or if my work stops being fun, I will shake his hand and walk away. That hasn’t happened in more than 40 years.”

The Mobile branch consistently enjoys growth year over year. Its strength and experience in the government and commercial marine industry as well as in health care and other verticals forecasts that this growth will continue. Hiller Mobile’s combination of experience and innovation ensures a strong future for both employees and customers alike.

The Hiller Companies Announces the Purchase of American Fire Technologies

The Hiller Companies is pleased to announce the purchase of American Fire Technologies (AFT) in Wilmington, North Carolina. AFT was welcomed into the Hiller family on June 28, 2019.

“As Hiller continues to grow, we look for opportunities to expand our offerings and expertise. American Fire Technologies strengthens Hiller’s special hazard fire suppression, detection and design capabilities while expanding our market along the East Coast,” Hiller CEO & President Patrick Lynch said. “AFT gives us deeper reach into many key verticals regionally and across the country.”

American Fire Technologies supports commercial, educational, governmental, industrial, medical and utilities markets nationally and internationally in the areas of suppression, detection management and design. Their professionals have expertise in fire safety and special hazard systems and are dedicated to providing customers with the latest technologies and state-of-the-art products.

Hiller plans to maintain all of AFT’s management, staff and technicians, so customers can continue to count on the dependable and professional services they have always received. This will ensure a seamless transition of AFT to a division of The Hiller Companies.

“We are excited to become a part of the Hiller team,” Paul Hayes, AFT CEO said. “We believe that together, American Fire Technologies and Hiller will offer our customers the excellence they have come to expect by continuing to deliver quality and value. We will also be able to grow our offerings and expand our service with the strength of the Hiller family behind us.”

Commemorating 100 Years, Hiller Reflects on New Orleans Roots

Store front
The original Herbert S. Hiller location in New Orleans.

New Orleans, LA – The Hiller Companies, Inc. is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2019, and the New Orleans office is where it all began. Founded in 1919 by Herbert S. Hiller, the original shop started as a local business and has expanded to include an international presence with 20 offices across the country.

“When I started with Hiller 40 years ago, it was still a small business based in New Orleans,” New Orleans Marine Branch Manager Mike Charleville said. “It was such a close-knit family that if any of the guys were ever short on money, they would help them out. As we have grown larger, we are more of a corporation, but we are still a family.”

Charleville has the honor of being the longest-serving employee in the New Orleans branch and said with growth, there have been many significant changes.

“When you go through this kind of growth, you lose a little, but you gain a lot,” he said. “It is harder to maintain the closeness we had as a small company, but there are a lot of positive improvements. When I started, the vehicles had no air conditioner, no power steering and AM radio. Now, our vehicles and equipment are first class.”

Another longstanding employee, Danny Brown has been with Hiller for 37 years. Brown joined Hiller in 1982 as a superintendent and worked his way up to a project manager, an engineering manager, assistant general manager and finally to general manager. In 2018, he took a corporate position as Manager, Strategic Projects for the Marine Division of The Hiller Companies.

Danny Brown presenting fire ext to Butch Browning
Danny Brown (right) presenting Hiller’s 95-year commemorative fire extinguisher in 2015 to Butch Browning (left), State Fire Marshal of Louisiana

“When I started with Hiller, I thought I would be here a couple of years. My knowledge of fire protection was very limited,” Brown said. “The more I became involved and realized that I could see the country and the world, the more I liked it. Most business and residential properties require some type of fire protection. Hiller is a company that provides every fire protection system available. I saw the bigger picture and wanted to make this my career.”

This is a common story at Hiller. Not only did Brown work his way up in the company, but in 2012 he was appointed by the Louisiana Governor to the Life Safety and Property Protection Board. The board has the authority to approve all training, certification and examination requirements for licensure for The Office of State Fire Marshal. He currently serves on the Louisiana Fire Marshal’s Suppression Board, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 301 committee representing the Fire Suppression System Association (FSSA), and is President of the Louisiana Automatic Fire Alarm Association

Brown has also witnessed many changes and periods of growth at Hiller requiring the New Orleans office to move three times during his tenure.

“The New Orleans branch is different because this is where it all started,” Brown said. “We have been through a lot in New Orleans. We survived Hurricane Katrina, we have hit bumps in the road, but we always come out stronger than before.”

With more than 60 employees, the New Orleans branch does it all, according to Brown; but, one unique service they focus on is military fire protection.

“Hiller designed a panel for fire suppression in military vehicles,” he said. “We have provided over 3,000 systems for one of the U.S. Army’s Armored Security Vehicles.”

In addition to fire protection of military vehicles, Hiller New Orleans has played an integral role in the design and fabrication of customizable fire suppression equipment, such as the USCG-approved AFFF hose reel stations. Originally designed in 1978, the AFFF hose reel stations and standalone hose reels remain a key industry offering to this day. Other Hiller innovations include breathing air stations, soda acid and foam hand-held fire extinguishers.

19th century fire extinghuisher
Mid-19th Century Herbert S. Hiller Fire Extinguisher

Brown is also proud of the way Hiller gives back to the community. In 2007, The National WWII Museum in New Orleans bought and restored the PT-305 – a boat from the mid-1940s used as a fast attack boat during the war. It took 10 years and 120,000 volunteer hours to get the boat restored and fully operational. Hiller reached out to some of its dedicated vendors and supplied the engine room CO2 fire suppression system, portable fire extinguishers, fire hoses and nozzles. Hiller donated the engineering, project management, field labor, pipe and fittings required to install and certify the systems.

“Hiller is a great company to work for,” Brown said. “They believe in giving back to the community and in strong families. These attributes combined with strong customer relations, keep business thriving day in and day out.”

Charleville agrees. “We have a lot of employees who’ve been with us for 20, 25, 30 years who really know what they are doing and are very professional. When you work with good people, you develop good relationships in the company and with your customers. Hiller is full of good people.”

Hiller Offers Bi-Directional Amplification System as a Life Safety Solution

Bi-Directional Amp system

The Hiller Companies, Inc., a century-old fire protection and life safety provider based in Mobile, Alabama, now consults, installs, and trains users on NOTIFIER’s Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA).

Designed and customized to meet all public safety frequency band ranges, BDA is an emergency responder radio coverage solution that boosts in-building radio frequency signals for public safety radio. During an emergency, this solution helps first responders inside a building communicate clearly with emergency personnel outside the building, possibly preventing injuries and saving lives.

“Responders inside a building can lose contact when radio signals are diminished by obstructions like concrete and metal,” says Joe McElvaney, Lead Fire Protection Engineer for Hiller. “Effective communication in these emergency-type situations is critical. On 9/11, communication failures caused responders in the World Trade Center to not receive the evacuation order. If BDA systems had been around then, it’s likely many more lives could have been saved.”

NOTIFIER’S BDA is a UL-listed two-way radio communication system and delivers reliable performance to meet signal strength requirements, even in the most challenging radio frequency environments.

BDA systems are required in both new and existing buildings per the ICC Fire code and NFPA 1 and can be paired with any existing fire system to provide the reliability and quality expected from a life safety solution.

In addition to the consultation and installation of BDA systems, Hiller offers product training for all customers. The trainers have received extensive education by Notifier and each hold an FCC general radio operator’s license.

For more information about BDA systems, please contact us.