The March issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION includes my exclusive and in-depth interview with Mark VanDover, president of the newly rebranded Tyco Integrated Security (formerly ADT Commercial Security). In this, the second of two bonus blog posts from my lengthy discussion with VanDover, the long-time Tyco executive who assumed his current post last November, talks about his background, how things have changed, and present professional challenges and goals. Read what VanDover has to say about marketing the new TycoIS, personnel and market dynamics, and projections in the companion post to this one. In addition, check out a third blog in which some of the industry’s leading analysts chime in on VanDover and TycoIS.
You moved into your current role last year. I’m curious what’s it like to move from the technology products to more of the design-installation part of the industry?
Mark VanDover: For me, I would say it’s been a known direction. In my past, I came out of the Simplex world, so I ran the service and installation business for Simplex. Before that, I ran service businesses in other industries. So moving back into a service and installation business is not an unknown entity for me. What I really enjoy is that with Tyco they’ve given me the ability to go in and work on the products side of the business and take product businesses and chart a path for success, and reinvest in technology and platforms, and really make them state-of-the-art as we go forward. Likewise now, the time’s come for me to take on a new challenge of building a new business, taking it to the next level, a whole different challenge of rebranding and getting an identity, and really focusing on commercial securities. So it’s actually been an easier transition for me than it probably would be for most, and it’s been exciting because it’s almost going back to a bit of my roots, where I’ve been in the past.
Talking about that past, can you point to a few significant ways the industry has changed since those earlier days of yours?
VanDover: We’re changing in technology at a very rapid pace. If you look back five years, the video and even some of the other technologies, analog, more primitive technologies; now we’re moving into the Internet space, remote monitoring, and other remote and mobile applications. It’s been a whirlwind of technology, and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. The technology spin seems to be happening faster and faster. Those are probably some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the industry, and we’ll continue to see more and more of that.
What about the customer expectations? Do you think those have changed also?
VanDover: I think certainly customers are always looking for the best in breed. They’re looking for the new technologies. But I also think that one of our strengths is really focusing on customers for the longer term, and focusing on the life of the customer, and making sure that they always see the new services and new technologies. And I think that what we’re seeing now is more and more customers looking for partners or suppliers that are going to help them migrate through the changes on an ongoing basis. In the past, it was point solutions. People bought something and they moved on to something else, maybe adding monitoring. Now with all the technology shifts, they’re looking for partners and people they can work with that can help consult them, and show them the new things that are out there, and the new ways of handling security. And security is moving more into the operational side of their businesses as well. That’s a big driver we see going forward.
From a personal standpoint, what drives or motivates you? What do you really enjoy and what shapes your approach to how you conduct yourself in the business?
VanDover: Certainly I love the challenge of new opportunities and I think for me coming into the TycoIS operation, it’s a really great time in the business with all the change in the market and the change in technology, and the focus from Tyco. To be able to come in and lead the largest security business in the North American market, that’s a great place to be. Certainly setting direction and setting a path forward that can take it to the next level and become even more significant to our customers I think is a big driver for me.
What would you say is the most difficult aspect of your job? Sometimes I ask that and executives will say travel. But the travel part of it aside, what would you say is the most difficult or challenging, and how do you deal with that?
VanDover: I’ve found in business the biggest challenge we face is making sure we have the best talent in the market. It’s about making sure we treat people fairly and give them opportunities to grow, whether personally, technically, skillset wise, those are some of the keys to success. So making sure we can find the right talent, bring new talent into the organization, keep a constant pool of people who are highly energized and highly motivated is always the thing I focus on most. Whether it’s the biggest challenge or where we have the biggest success, they probably go hand-in-hand.