After serving nearly five years, Frank De Fina will resign from his post as executive vice president of Samsung Techwin America on June 2 citing personal reasons. A successor to the position has not been named.
De Fina made the announcement on Wednesday (May 28) during a conference call with several invited members of the security industry trade media. Although he did state a specific reason why he was resigning from the company, he requested it not be reported.
De Fina said he would be “taking a breather” from the industry before potentially returning as a consultant. “I am leaving on my own in a very amicable way. I am leaving due to personal reasons,” he said.
De Fina joined Samsung in early 2010 as the company was foundering in its attempt to build brand recognition and market share. Among the challenges he faced, De Fina had to rectify a broken go to market strategy, which included two competing distributers that were selling to other suppliers.
“Almost five years ago when I came here [the company] was a shell. There really was no company. There were no processes in order. There was no team,” he said.
Rising from near total obscurity in the industry, as of late the company has experienced positive growth and is incrementally improving brand awareness among installing security contractors and end users alike, he said.
“Our business this year versus last year is up about 75%. We are sure we are gaining market share. If you look at the North American market that is growing around 8% to 9% [annually], a 75% increase is very significant. I am leaving the company in much better shape than when I found it,” he said.
De Fina feels among his greatest achievements at Samsung is the management personnel he leaves behind to run the company: “I will take credit for building a great team, but the credit for building the business goes to that team.”
“There are a couple of obvious potential choices” who could be selected to lead the security division from the roster of managers he recruited to the organization, but the decision will ultimately be made by Samsung brass in Korea, De Fina said.
The core management team includes Tom Cook, vice president of sales; Keith Ridings, business development director; and Janet Fenner, senior marketing group manager.
De Fina fielded a few general industry questions following his resignation announcement. When giving his thoughts on what he expects to be the next big growth area for video surveillance, De Fina cited his recent month-long, fact-finding tour through the Silicon Valley where he met with executives from Google, Yahoo, Citrix and other tech firms. He learned the companies were equally concerned about the physical security of their data centers as they are about cybersecurity measures.
“If you look at the traditional physical security space there is a big growth area in protecting the approaching criminal if you will,” he said. “There is still a big physical security problem with data centers and mobile towers and bridges and infrastructure … the big growth areas are going to be intrusion or violation of space surrounding these critical areas.”
And the greatest challenge that integrators confront in today’s marketplace? Decreasing margins, he said. To compete in an ever competitive market, traditional integrators “need to reinvent themselves to mimic or track in parallel” emerging growth opportunities such as securing the likes of data centers and critical infrastructure.
It’s no longer about capturing on camera “who is in the lobby,” rather the key is to gather video data as somebody is “approaching the mobile cell tower in the dark in the middle of the farmer’s field. People will pay more to solve these problems that are not so easy to solve,” he said.
De Fina formerly served as president of Panasonic System Solutions, which he retired from in 2008 after holding various positions at the company for more than 25 years. Following a stint as the top executive at Paul Reed Guitars — De Fina is an avid guitarist and music aficionado — he assumed his role at Samsung.