SOUTH SHORE INSIDER: Norwell-based SIGNET hooks up hospitals, courts, prisons
GREG DERR/The Patriot Ledger
Brad Caron is president of Norwell-based SIGNET.
When Charles J. Caron was laid off in 1974, the service technician had to find a way to support his young family. He soon opened SIGNET Electronic Systems Inc., a small service repair company that worked with clients he had come to know in the security installation industry.
Now, almost 40 years after SIGNET opened in the basement of a men’s clothing shop in Braintree, Caron’s son Brad is president of the expanded, Norwell-based systems integrator company.
Since Brad Caron joined SIGNET in 1987, the company has grown with the ever-changing tech industry. Its focus has shifted from installing apartment intercoms and antennas to implementing communications systems in some of New England’s largest hospitals, as well as security systems in courts and prisons.
The growing business now has more than 60 full-service fleet vehicles, 150 employees, and offices in Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. It installs audio-visual, communications, life safety, and integrated security systems.
Who are your biggest clients and what specifically do you do for them?
Our communications clients include some of Boston’s biggest hospitals. We work with Children’s Hospital, Faulkner, Beth Israel and Mass Eye and Ear. Hospitals are trying to reduce noise pollution so we’re installing systems that page to cellphones so that we’re no longer paging overhead. On the security side, we also service court systems and prisons with door security and camera installation. We are currently contracted with the John J. Moran Facility in Rhode Island for a $756,000 project there.
How much does a SIGNET installation cost in a hospital?
If we just focus on a ward or a floor, it’s over $100,000 for communications solutions, and you multiply that times as many floors as we are servicing. We certainly have million-dollar projects in hospitals.
What SIGNET project has made you most proud?
We recently partnered with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center at their new facility in Boston. We worked directly with the hospital and the construction team. We provided the fire alarm, the communications solutions, the patient televisions, and the digital signage within the hospital.
Are you affected by outside economic factors such as the most recent recession?
We’re pretty resistant to the valleys within a business cycle because we have a strong service base. Even if our business might dip a little bit we still have a very large client base within New England, and people still need to be serviced every day, so that’s helped smooth out the rough patches over the years.
What’s next for SIGNET?
My industry is in flux right now. Soon, fire alarm, security, closed-circuit TV and telephone systems will all be network-based and sit on the World Wide Web. In the near future, my business will use fewer electricians and technicians and depend more on computer and software engineers. My challenge is to plan for this inevitable transition.