Prefab's all the rage for homes these days. And now, thanks to an Annapolis company, even criminals can do time the trendy way: in prefab jail cells.
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on whom you ask—the cells, marketed under the name Maxwall by CompuDyne of Annapolis, aren't as pretty as many of the prefab homes on the market. In fact, they're exactly what you'd expect them to look like: four pastel, concrete and steel walls with a sliding door. Still, they certainly are unique.
Like prefab homes, the jail cells are easy to build and cost less than their traditional counterparts. Another advantage: They can be installed in new or existing buildings and can be configured any way you want them.
"At a jail we did in Arizona, we were able to reduce the number of beds by getting rid of one floor, saving millions of dollars," says Geoffrey Feidelberg, the CFO and treasurer of CompuDyne.
CompuDyne, which has 800 employees and 15 offices worldwide, is a conglomerate of sorts—a family of companies that all sell safety and security products and services. They range from things like 911 call systems to blast-resistant doors and windows to closed-circuit surveillance systems. But with prison overcrowding a national problem, sales of prison-related products now represent 40 percent of the firm's $140 million a year in sales.
Thanks to strong sales of its attack-protection and emergency dispatch systems, the company reported a gain of $0.04 per share for the third quarter 2006 from a loss of $0.65 one year before. That has propelled the stock from a 52-week low of $4.94 to a high hovering around $8 per share. And Maryland has been one of the company's strongest clients: The Maryland State Police, Prince George's County, and Anne Arundel County all use CompuDyne's security software.
It's a far cry from just over a decade ago, when CompuDyne was on the verge of bankruptcy. In came CEO Marty Roenigk, a former vice president at the Travelers Corporation, who refocused the company on producing the public security products that have made it successful today.
"We have many businesses," says Feidelberg. And ultimately, no matter how diverse those organizations, they all have one goal in common: to make their customers safer.
"One of our mantras is, 'We save lives,'" says Feidelberg. "And we do."