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Good business has a way of succeeding despite tough situations. While some companies may have fallen during the economic downturn, others have survived—and thrived—by exploring new opportunities. This was the case with Advanced Electronic Systems Integrators Inc., which not only consolidated its leading position in the entertainment, communications, security and networking market, but enhanced its standing through strategic acquisition and organic growth.

“We had to change our business model to accommodate the economic environment,” says Joe Hieronimus, a principal with Advanced ESI. “But a large part of our success was down to aggressive growth through acquisition. The downturn in Southwest Florida was enough that it created opportunities for those strong companies who could go out at acquire new business partners, new capabilities and new geographic presences.”

Advanced ESI’s ability to capture new acquisitions was enhanced by its operations in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which provided a steadier base than the “peak and valley” economy in Florida.

“The economies in Pennsylvania and Ohio were steady-Eddies for us,” says Hieronimus. “They provided us with the ability to make investments in Florida, which we made, banking on better days ahead.”

The investments made to-date have changed the face of the company, which used to operate exclusively out of Bonita Springs. Formally known as Accent ESI, it acquired another company’s facilities in 2010, and moved its sales group into new premises in Naples. This was followed by the acquisition of projects and assets from a company called Advanced Audio Design, which not only gave the company a new name and a new full-service branch office in Sarasota, it also led to another move: new headquarters on Trade Center Way, where all the operations in its southern division are housed.

In terms of the business itself, Advanced ESI has a range of commercial and residential services for both the new build and retrofit market, offering commercial audio-visual, home theater systems, communications, lighting control, security and closed-circuit as well as networking and full integration (the company is a certified Cisco dealer).

“While Pennsylvania and Ohio are largely commercial projects, our operations in the south tend to be mainly residential. Of these, about 75 percent are integrated projects – a mixture of audio, video, networking and whole-house automation,” explains Hieronimus.

Between its two markets, 2011 was a positive year for Advanced ESI, with revenues of around $19 million underpinning its rapid expansion.

“We have always been financially conservative,” explains Hieronimus. “We have never overinvested, and we always found a good balance between our own balance sheet and our relationship with our lending partners. This allowed us to tap into cash whenever good opportunities arose.”


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