Hiller Turns 100

January 30, 2019


The Hiller Companies

Hiller Celebrates 100 Years of Safeguarding Lives & Protecting Property

The Hiller Companies, Inc. turns 100 this year, and the company has much to celebrate.

Founded as a single shop in 1919, Hiller began as a modest venture in New Orleans, Louisiana under the name of its owner Herbert S. Hiller. Initially, the company served to provide fire protection equipment for commercial and shipyard customers. As the business (and the need for fire suppression technology) grew, they relocated their headquarters to Mobile, Alabama and today Hiller boasts a global reach as well as over 20 offices around the United States.

Quietly working behind the scenes, the Hiller name is not always well known outside of the fire protection industry. However, Hiller systems can be found around the globe with such clients as the New York City Mass Transit Authority (MTA), the Harvard Library, The National WWII Museum, the Smithsonian, the Louvre Museum, and the Indian Navy. There is also a Hiller system on every active U.S. Navy combatant ship.

Within the fire protection industry, Hiller has grown to become a trusted worldwide leader in fire and life safety. They’ve combined sound mechanical and electrical engineering practices, decades of experience, and the latest in fire protection to create products and services of the highest level of excellence. Services include life safety protection through the design, installation, monitoring and service of fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, fire alarm systems, security systems, and more.

“What makes Hiller the best of the best is our ability to design, install, and service some of the most complex fire protection systems in some of the harshest environments in the world today,” said Patrick Lynch, Hiller President and CEO. “We are able to do this through the knowledge, experience and passion of our employees. Our engineers and technicians are outstanding at what they do. Some of them have been with us for over 40 years and we have the right leadership in place to enable us to perform wherever and whenever our customers need us.”

Hiller will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans on April 24th, 2019.

For more information about Hiller, please visit www.hillerfire.com.

The Hiller Companies, Inc. offers fire protection products and services that are preserving lives and property all around the world. Headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, Hiller extends its reach globally as well as locally with offices in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia. We are proud to safeguard everything from small businesses to nuclear testing facilities, yachts to aircraft carriers, and gas stations to offshore platforms.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact John Mackey at 251-661-1275 or email at jmackey@hillercompanies.com.

Lawsuit Against Fike Claims Fire Alarm Not Loud Enough

January 28, 2019


By Jeannie O’Sullivan

A New Jersey-based chemical company on Tuesday urged the Third Circuit to undo a finding that its consumer fraud claims against two fire suppression system makers actually fell under product liability law, arguing the $5 million in damages it incurred from an explosion stemmed from the companies’ false claims about the effectiveness of a fire alarm.

Sun Chemical Corp. filed New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act claims, and not claims under the state’s Product Liability Act, against Fike Corp. and Suppression Systems Inc. because they allegedly misrepresented the effectiveness of their alarm, a Sun Chemical attorney told a three-judge panel sitting in Philadelphia for oral arguments. The company wants to reverse a New Jersey federal judge’s dismissal of the suit.

Sun Chemical claims the alarm system wasn’t loud enough to be heard by the employees of its East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S. Ink facility the day the facility exploded in October 2012. The PLA only applies to claims for bodily injury or property damage to a plaintiff caused by a defective product or warning, Sun Chemical contends.

However, the “vast majority” of its damages constituted economic losses merely consequential to the bodily injury to its employees, which led to costly lawsuits and regulatory inspections, according to Sun Chemical. The explosion left the facility permanently inoperable.

“We have suffered purely economical losses,” Lance J. Kalik of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, representing Sun Chemical, told the panel.

An attorney for the defendants, Gino P. Mecoli of Reilly Janiczek McDevitt Henrich & Cholden PC, called the argument “nonsensical.”

This was “not a case at all in which Sun [Chemical] has not had physical damage to property,” Mecoli told the panel.

Third Circuit Judges Thomas L. Ambro and Cheryl Ann Krause challenged Kalik’s assertions.

“It sounds very much like a design defect claim,” Judge Krause said at one point.

Judge Ambro asked Kalik several times why Sun Chemical hadn’t simply amended the complaint to assert product liability claims.

“You’ve suffered an economic loss just by being here if you didn’t have to,” the judge told Kalik.

Kalik, who explained that he joined the case at the appeal stage, said Sun Chemical wasn’t alleging the alarm didn’t work, but rather that the defendants overstated the audibility of it.

Sun Chemical’s July 2013 lawsuit claimed the companies oversold the suppression system’s capabilities, prompting Sun Chemical to buy what turned out to be an unsuitable product based on the misrepresentations, according to court records.

The claim was further bolstered by testimony from an expert witness who said many of the representations by Fike and Suppression Systems “were, in fact, false,” court records said.

In March 2015, now-retired U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg rejected the defendants’ argument that the PLA subsumed the CFA claim and denied their motion to dismiss.

Fike and Suppression Systems moved for reconsideration, but in June of that year, Judge Esther Salas — to whom the case had been reassigned following Judge Hochberg’s retirement — backed Judge Hochberg’s reasoning and denied reconsideration. During oral argument on Tuesday, Kalik repeatedly emphasized the case’s survival of the dismissal motions.

However, in December 2017, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vasquez granted summary judgment to the defendants after finding that the PLA did subsume the CFA claims.

Judges Cheryl Ann Krause, Thomas L. Ambro and Julio M. Fuentes sat on the panel for the Third Circuit.

Fike and Suppression Systems are represented by Gino P. Mecoli, Michael J. Jubanyik, Suzanne I. Turpin, Thomas Eugene Grady and Susan M. Valinis of Reilly Janiczek McDevitt Henrich & Cholden PC.

Sun Chemical is represented by Lance J. Kalik and Jeffrey A. Beer Jr. of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP and John McGahren, Stephanie R. Feingold and Drew Cleary Jordan of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The case is Sun Chemical Corp. v. Fike Corp. et al., case number 18-1062, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

–Editing by Janice Carter Brown.

Original article can be found here.

Deaths of 2 Technicians Working on Fire Suppression System Being Investigated

January 10, 2019


By Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer
69 News

NEW YORK — The National Science Foundation says two technicians working on a fire-suppression system at an Antarctica scientific station were found unconscious and died.

The foundation said that the two had been working in a building at McMurdo Station, which is on Ross Island. It says they were found on the floor by a helicopter pilot who had landed after spotting what appeared to be smoke from the building.

Both were taken from the building and given CPR. One died at the scene. The other was flown to a clinic and pronounced dead shortly after.

They were employed by a Virginia-based subcontractor. The foundation says it is not immediately releasing any personal information about the pair. The deaths are under investigation.

Original story can be found here.

Fire Equipment Distributor to Serve Jail Time in Bribery Scheme

December 17, 2018

K&M Fire Protection Services/Courtesy of Google Maps



SOUTHINGTON — The former owner of a Plantsville fire suppression business was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison Friday for bribing an employee of a Stamford construction company to receive millions of dollars in contracts.

Michael Uszakiewicz, 52, of Prospect, will also serve one year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in April, and forfeited more than $1.1. million as part of his plea.

Uszakiewicz, free on $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on Jan. 4.

Uszakiewicz was the owner of K&M Fire Protection Services, 8 West St., Plantsville.

Between 2011 and 2014, Uszakiewicz and other contractors paid between $250,000 and $500,000 in bribes to an employee of a Stamford-area construction company, Building and Land Technology Inc, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement.

In return, Uszakiewicz and the contractors received millions of dollars in BLT contracts on Stamford construction projects.

Original article can be found here.

UTC Closes Rockwell Deal – Will Divest Non-Aero Companies

November 30, 2018

Among the items United Technologies produces are Pratt & Whitney jet engines. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News

Industrial conglomerate to spin off Otis and Carrier, after swallowing Rockwell Collins


By Dana Mattioli and Thomas Gryta
The Wall Street Journal

United Technologies Corp. has decided to separate itself into three independent companies, breaking apart one of America’s last industrial conglomerates.

The company, which makes everything from Otis escalators to Pratt & Whitney jet engines, said that it plans to spin off to shareholders its Otis division and Carrier building systems businesses. The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported on the plans to break apart.

The separation is expected to be completed in 2020 and leave UTC as a pure-play aerospace company, following its acquisition of airplane-parts maker Rockwell Collins Inc. That $23 billion cash-and-stock deal closed Monday after lengthy antitrust reviews in the U.S. and China.

The company’s current leader, Greg Hayes, will stay on as UTC’s CEO and chairman following the separation. The company didn’t name the leaders of the Otis and Carrier spinoffs.

The breakup comes as investors are pressuring traditional conglomerates to justify their existence.

One of UTC’s biggest rivals, General Electric Co. GE -1.85% , is essentially breaking itself apart after 126 years. Several activist investors have been pushing UTC to split, and Mr. Hayes has openly expressed his preference for smaller, more focused companies.

United Technologies has outperformed the broader market in the last year, with a 9.5% rise in its shares, while GE has lost almost 60% on troubles in its power business and financial services arm.

GE was once several times the size of UTC, but the combined market value of UTC and Rockwell Collins is now almost twice GE’s market value.

The Farmington, Conn., company has a market value of $103 billion and has expanded over the years by swallowing other players. Before the Rockwell deal, UTC’s revenue was about evenly split between airplanes and buildings.

UTC said its newly merged aerospace business would have had about $39 billion in revenue last year.

The Otis business had $12.3 billion in 2017 sales, while Carrier had $17.8 billion. For 2018, UTC has forecast companywide revenue of about $65 billion.

United Technologies was formed in 1934, but it expanded beyond its aerospace roots in the 1970s by acquiring Otis Elevator Co., which pioneered the elevator business, and Carrier Engineering Co., a large manufacturer of heating and air conditioning systems.

The company got embroiled in national politics in 2016 after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized its decision to close a Carrier factory in Indiana and move production to Mexico. After Indiana offered financial incentives, Mr. Hayes agreed to keep some of the jobs at the factory.

UTC said the three companies are expected to pay an annual dividend of at least $2.94, the amount currently paid by the parent company.

Write to Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com and Thomas Gryta at thomas.gryta@wsj.com.

Original story can be found here.

Summit Acquires A-1 Fire Equipment, Expanding into Texas

November 21, 2018


Summit Companies

SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA – Summit Companies, a premier fire life safety company, announced it has acquired A-1 Fire Equipment Co., Inc. (“A-1 Fire Equipment”) in Houston, TX. The purchase is a strategic geographic expansion of Summit’s existing fire protection, life safety and consulting business. Summit Companies currently operates branch offices in the states of Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin and performs work across the United States.

Summit Companies will retain the management, staff and service technicians of A-1 Fire Equipment. The current Houston office of A-1 Fire Equipment, will become a new branch office for Summit Companies operating under the A-1 National Fire Co. subsidiary.

“Summit’s entry into Texas is in direct alignment with the company’s growth plan to expand nationally,” stated Summit CEO, Jeff Evrard. “Establishing a presence in Texas, not only demonstrates Summit’s continued commitment to our customers and expanding our customer base, but also complements our existing southwest service base in Arizona and Nevada.”

A-1 Fire Equipment roots date back to 1967 when Kevin Coggin’s step-father, Ward Cooper established the company with a focus on sales and service of portable fire extinguishers. In 1978, Kevin joined the business spending time in various roles and capacities prior to assuming leadership of the business in 1985. Under Kevin’s guidance A-1 Fire Equipment has grown significantly, adding new products and services.

“On behalf of A-1 Fire Equipment, we’re thrilled to be joining Summit Companies and are looking forward to an exciting future,” stated Kevin Coggin. “A-1 Fire has been serving the Greater Houston area for over 50 years selling and servicing fire extinguishers, pre-engineered systems, engineered systems and fire alarm. In partnership with Summit, we’re eager to share with our customers and future customers an expanded fire life safety product offering and continue serving the metro area for another 50 years and beyond.”

Today, A-1 Fire Equipment is a full service fire protection company offering fire extinguishers, extinguishing agents, pre-engineered kitchen, industrial and vehicle suppression systems, special hazard suppression systems, fire alarm and monitoring services. The company also provides high-pressure cylinder testing and refilling in addition to fire training, design/installation services along with service, repair and inspections of fire equipment.

With the additional resources of Summit Companies, the company plans to expand its offering by adding complementary fire life safety services including fire sprinklers and fire protection consulting services.

UTC Explores Sale of Chubb Fire and Security

October 31, 2018

FILE PHOTO – United Technologies Chairman and CEO Greg Hayes gives an interview to CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


By Harry Brumpton, Arno Schuetze

United Technologies Corp is exploring a sale of its Chubb Fire & Security division for more than $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

On Sept. 14, United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said the company will announce a decision within 60 days about whether to break up. The company’s main business lines are comprised of aerospace engines, elevators and building equipment such as air conditioners.

Chubb was acquired by United Technologies for about $1 billion in 2003, and is now part of the company’s climate, controls and security division. It has been playing catch-up for market share with rivals Securitas AB and Tyco International Ltd. Tyco was acquired by Johnson Controls International Plc two years ago for $16.5 billion.

United Technologies, based in Farmington, Connecticut, has hired Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to run an auction for Chubb, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential and cautioning that no deal is certain.

United Technologies did not respond to a request for comment, while Bank of America declined to comment.

United Technologies, maker of Pratt & Whitney engines, Carrier air conditioners and Otis elevators, has a market capitalization of approximately $113 billion. Chubb, headquartered in Britain, provides fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organizations around the world, although its business is predominantly in Europe.

Hayes said at an investor conference this month that United Technologies planned to close its pending $23 billion acquisition of aerospace parts maker Rockwell Collins (COL.N) by the end of this month. That deal has been held up by China delaying regulatory approval, amid an escalating trade row with the United States.

Investors have increasingly shunned sprawling industrial conglomerates, forcing peers such as General Electric Co (GE.N) and Honeywell International Inc (HON.N) to also announce the sale or spinout of major divisions.

Activist investor Bill Ackman’s hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP and Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point LLC have been putting pressure on United Technologies to break up into three focused, standalone businesses.

Original story can be found here.