LEXINGTON, Ky. — For adopting and utilizing technology to directly increase productivity, efficiency, revenue and profits, Bates Security has earned the Innovation Award from the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce. The accolade is part of the chamber’s 26th annual Salute to Small Business Awards program.
Divided into six categories, the Salute to Small Business Awards recognizes small businesses that have contributed to the economy in the Lexington area. The winners for each of the categories are put in the running for the overall Small Business of the Year Award, which the chamber will announce during the during the Oct. 17 awards ceremony.
“This is our first time participating in this program,” Bates Security General Manager Jeremy Bates tells SSI. “We applied for [three other] categories, including green initiative, business success and the Legacy award, and we won the Innovation Award. We’ve been making a lot of investments over the past several years to make sure that we have cutting-edge technology to run our business.”
A family-owned and operated business since 1984 when Sonny and Pat Bates purchased the Lexington Sonitrol franchise, the SAMMY Award-winning Bates Security offers access control, intrusion alarm, fire protection, video surveillance, and lock and safe solutions to 4,400 commercial and residential customers in Central and Northern Kentucky. The company also outfits its sales team and technicians with iPads to sell different services and uses its headquarters as a training center to display its technology offerings to clients.
“I think our industry lends us to being on the cutting edge with technology,” Bates says. “We have embraced the Honeywell Total Connect technology, which we call Bates Connect, as well as Honeywell’s home automation product that they’ve introduced that features Z-Wave technology. That is showing increased revenues in our residential installations.”
On the commercial side, Bates Security has implemented and maintained IT systems for video, burglary, access control and fire solutions, as well as managed access control, which the company has offered for 20 years, Bates says.
Although the company had numerous advanced technology solutions to offer customers, that didn’t necessarily mean the company would be successful. After all, a turbulent economy, as well as heavy competition in the electronic security market in central Kentucky, created a large obstacle in Bates Security’s path. Rather than shrinking back in defeat, company executives relied on their 55 employees to help boost sales.
“Succeeding and growing in the recession has been one of Bates Security’s greatest challenges,” Bates says. “When the recession first started, we had a pep rally and I told the company that someone in the industry in central Kentucky had to be successful and it might as well be us. We needed everyone to do their jobs to allow us to retain customers and continue to get referrals.”
The pep rally motivated the firm’s employees more than Bates could have imagined. Since the recession began, the company has not experienced any decline financially.
“If you judged whether there was a recession based our performance financially, you would not know it. For the last couple of years, we’ve been roughly $5 million, but in 2011, we did a little over $8 million [in revenue]. We’re on track to do the same this year. We’ve done nothing but add employees and we have move into a brand new building. We’re very fortunate.”
As it continues evolve technologically, Bates Security has also taken great strides to improve its social media presence, including creating Facebook and Twitter pages and a blog.
“Instead of being worried about the recession, we just took the attitude to forge ahead,” Bates says. “So we have continued to invest in social media to build the Bates Security brand, and we have definitely seen a lot of movement from that area. The only things that are expensive about it are time and effort.”
While Bates realizes that the thought of engaging in social networking can cause fear for some, he encourages all electronic security companies who want to advance technologically to hop aboard the social media marketing train.
“It can be overwhelming,” he says. “But the best advice we always heard it to start slowly. You can’t do it overnight.”
Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION magazine. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.