EAST SETAUKET, NEW YORK — On June 7, 2018, after a two-year process, and approaching a decade in business, Foos Fire Inc. received certification as a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) in the State of New York. Foos Fire Inc. is unique in a male-dominated industry in that the company is one of only a handful of fire sprinkler companies certified as a WBE in the entire state of New York.
For the past decade, Foos Fire Inc. has serviced Long Island, all the downstate regions of New York, multiple states in New England, and, through its sister company, the five boroughs of New York City. Foos Fire provides new installations, testing/inspections, and service/maintenance of fire sprinkler systems. Some of its typical clients include retail chain stores, banks and investment companies, office buildings, big-box stores, restaurants, hospitality centers, churches, hospitals, educational facilities and industrial spaces. The company offers services that also include retrofits, tenant buildouts, design build, field surveys and site consultations.
"Our WBE certification offers us new advantages in the industry," Kristie Roche Johnson, Owner/President, Foos Fire Inc., said. "It affords us the opportunity to give back in the sense that our clients are able to achieve any participation goals set in place by state agencies for their projects, based upon funding or advantages they have been awarded. It was an extensive, complex and exhaustive process to meet the criteria. This was a major accomplishment because it's difficult to be approved as a WBE."
One of the interests of the state is to offer tax advantages and funding to assist in the economic, cultural, and affordable growth in our communities by promoting revitalization projects. In order for these funding opportunities to developers and local communities to take place, the state has put a requirement on the utilization of minority- and women-owned companies, specifically a 15% requirement of the funded amount to go directly to these entities.
Ms. Johnson's involvement with the fire sprinkler industry began over 15 years ago while she was operating her company, Computers Solutions of Long Island, an IT-focused consulting firm. She was working with two clients in the sprinkler industry at the time. "One of the fire sprinkler companies was approached by someone who wanted to sell 80 inspection accounts to my client," she said. "The company didn't want to pursue those accounts, so I decided to buy them. I saw this as an opportunity to utilize my IT, financial and business development skills in a totally different industry that would benefit my own endeavors." Foos Fire has now grown to service and inspect over 2,500 locations in the Northeast and has completed close to 500 installation and renovation projects throughout the region.
The company originated as AAA Fire Protection in 2008. In 2014, Ms. Johnson changed the name of the company to Foos Fire, Inc. She wanted to come up with a name that made the company stand out from all others. "Like Google, what did Foos mean?" she said. "I knew when we were brainstorming that it would set us apart."
The name originated from an old client that Ms. Johnson had in her early technology career that left a lasting impression on her, although some employees thought it was because of the fact that it was a women-owned business. "One of our employees, Michael Lopez (one of our staple installation employees), said to me, ‘I thought it stood for Female Owned and Operated Sprinkler company'; I then knew this is the name we are going with."
Ms. Johnson believes that what makes her story more significant is that she started the business from the ground up. "I didn't inherit this company and I didn't marry into it," she said. "It's unusual to have a women-owned sprinkler business, although I have had a couple of really strong mentors that continue to nurture me through this business. It has not been an easy undertaking."
Foos Fire has grown with three locations — New York, New York; Taunton, Massachusetts; and its main headquarters in East Setauket, New York — and to just under 50 employees who perform fire sprinkler inspections, testing, service, maintenance, and installations.
When asked about her keys to success, Ms. Johnson cites her hard work, but also her efforts to embrace new technologies in her company — an easier task, considering her IT and business consulting background. "Nothing makes us more successful than the root of the company, its employees," she said. "I have been very blessed cultivating the experience, hearts and minds of the people who have chosen to build this company with me."
Ms. Johnson is optimistic about the company's growth. "I feel we are poised to expand our operations throughout the regions we serve, but especially on Long Island, considering the growth seen in commercial construction, including so many revitalization projects all over the island in the last few years, as well as so many just now in the planning stages," she said.
In December, Foos Fire will celebrate its 10-year anniversary, and as the company continues on its journey, Ms. Johnson intends to endure and achieve nothing short of the highest level of success possible for all involved with the company. "I think about my employees and what this means for all of us. We have a unique dynamic, which lends itself to our effective teamwork," she said. "It's exciting to see them all grow along with the company."
For more information, call (631) 689-6869 or visit www.foosfire.com.
About Foos Fire Inc.
Foos Fire Inc. provides installation services on any project large or small, specializing in retail chain stores, banks and investment companies, office buildings, big-box stores, restaurants, hospitality centers, churches, hospitals, educational facilities, and industrial spaces. Services include installations, inspections, repairs and upgrades, testing, violation corrections, design consultations, account management and 24/7 emergency services. The company installs wet, dry, pre-action, deluge, anti-freeze, ESFR and in-rack systems while strictly adhering to NFPA 25 and NFPA 13 guidelines. Foos Fire has locations in East Setauket, New York; New York, New York; and Bridgewater, Massachusetts. For more information, call (631) 689-6869 or visit www.foosfire.com.