Orca Security has profitable niche in Greater Vancouver
By Peter Caulfield
Founded in 1999, Orca Security Corp. bills itself as Greater Vancouver's premier full-service provider of low-voltage systems, including security systems. The company is located in a combined warehouse and office building near the north arm of the Fraser River in Burnaby, from where it serves British Columbia's Lower Mainland.
By Peter Caulfield
Brad Morrison, founder and president of Orca, says the company works as far afield as Whistler, a ski resort located 75 miles north of Vancouver. Most of Orca’s contracts, however, are for projects on the city’s west side and in West Vancouver, which are comparable to the more comfortable areas of north Toronto.
“We have commercial and industrial customers, too, but Orca specializes in the custom residential home market,” Morrison said. “We do custom work for people building their dream house and who want to do the job once and do it right.”
Orca’s customers in the residential market are custom home builders, architects and home owners.
“The west side is a very competitive security market,” Morrison said. “We don’t compete on price, but we are very competitive on quality. All of our work is done in-house; we don’t use sub-contractors.”
For the past eight years, the company has gone under the name of Orca Security Plus. It offers a large variety of different but related low-voltage systems to its residential market niche: Home theatre, distributed audio, home automation, lighting control, structured wiring, communications, access control, video entry, CCTV, alarm monitoring, central vacuum – and security systems.
Morrison says Orca’s security systems cover the full range of alarms.
“Door and window contacts in all entry points; motion detectors that know the difference between a pet and a person; glass-break sensors to protect vulnerable windows and doors; exterior and interior sirens and cellular backup to ensure our customers are protected,” he said. “Add carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors or temperature and flood sensors and you’ve ensured your family, business and property are protected for every possible threat.”
Morrison said Orca is “a 10-fingered company.”
“We offer full integration of audio, video and security systems,” he said. “Not only do we build and design systems, we also do all the wiring and networking. That way a contractor doesn’t have to call 20 different companies to get something done.”
The Orca company logo includes a killer whale.
“I was born and raised in Burnaby and I still live here,” Morrison said. “I wanted a strong B.C. name and symbol for the company and that’s why I picked that name and that symbol.”
Morrison got into the security business through the side-door in 1981.
“I learned how to install central vacuum systems from my brother-in-law and from there I learned about alarm and intercom systems,” he said.
Morrison says he entered the market at the right stage, just as security systems were starting to take off in urban British Columbia.
“I was an employee of another security company and I found there were services not being provided to the local market,” he said. “So, in 1999, I decided to start my own company and do it better.”
Morrison started off working out of a home office in his garage in Burnaby.
“One day I walked outside and saw six or seven company vans in my drive way,” he said. “That made me realize it was time to get my own office.”
So Morrison leased some space – in Burnaby, of course. Orca continued to grow and prosper and two years later he bought his own warehouse/office building nearby.
The company’s growth – today Orca has a fleet of 18 vehicles and 22 employees – was not the result of a deliberate growth strategy.
“It just happened,” Morrison said. “There was no master plan.”
Looking ahead, Morrison says Orca will continue to grow, but in a judicious manner.
“We have good regular clientele and we’re cautious about how much work we take on at one time,” he said. As a matter of fact, we downsized from a couple of years ago. We plan to grow – we bought six new trucks recently and we’re hiring more staff now – but we’ll do it carefully.”
Of Orca’s 22 employees, seven are in office and administration and 15 are in installation.
“We take students from the security certification program at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology, in Burnaby) and teach them how to install audio and video systems,” Morrison said.
Morrison says a trend in the Greater Vancouver residential security market is the increasing use of iPhone and iPads.
“Our customers want to be able to go on vacation and check remotely on the water, heat and security of their properties over the Internet,” he said. “With the latest devices they can dial up their house or vacation property and assure themselves that all is well.”