As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I recently conducted a roundtable at the First Alert Professional Conference with four of the most experienced and respected CEOs from some of the installation community’s most successful companies. The two-hour discourse included John Bourque of Cranston, R.I.-based HB Alarm; Joe Hassan of Certified Security Systems in Jacksonville, Fla.; John Jennings of Safeguard Security and Communications in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Joe Nuccio of ASG Security in Beltsville, Md.
Although much of the discussion will be available in the January issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION, with bonus content in the online version, the sheer volume of fascinating and incisive comments expressed during this marathon session demand an additional outlet. That outlet is Under Surveillance, and this is the fourth and final exclusive postings stemming from this summit of industry leaders. The first covered industry marketing, the second addressed dealing with tighter credit restrictions internally and externally, and the third tackled employee issues and IT-physical security convergence.
This installment focuses on the benefits to be derived from belonging to a major manufacturer program such as First Alert Pro.
(clockwise from right) John Bourque, Joe Hassan, Joe Nuccio and Scott Goldfine
What appeals to you about being a member of a dealer program such as First Alert Pro? What business advantages does it afford you?
Joe Hassan: I think the biggest benefit that I get from being a preferred dealer is what they bring to the table is the best dealers in the industry. With that comes the best methods and practices, and I’m able to learn by interacting with these guys right there, having these discussions, and they facilitate that. I’ve had instances where we had needed reinforcement to come in because of a big job where things weren’t going well, and I have found them to be pretty responsive. But I’d say the No. 1 benefit to me is the knowledge I’ve gotten from the other dealers in the network, and they’re responsible for bringing that together.
Joe Nuccio: The way I look at the First Alert program is our company is a pretty big company. I at one time thought that we could kind of take our brand, that it would mean something, and we could go out and market our brand and really kind of stay with that. What I really found is that’s not true at all. Because no matter how much marketing dollars you have, there’s not enough to throw at it to get anybody to know who you really are or care. The opportunity with First Alert and the Honeywell authorized program is second to none. And, very similar to what Joe said, the network of the dealers that are in the group, the interaction that you have, the support that you get from First Alert and from Honeywell; I’ve been in the industry since 1984 and the support is first-class. There is nobody near that level of support and product information.
The co-op marketing program I think is exceptional. My sales and marketing vice president, Bob Ryan, used to be an executive of ADT for many years. He ran their director of national accounts program. He said just about a month ago, he said, ‘Joe, this is the best thing that we ever did for our company.’ I think that was a pretty bold statement. As I kind of look around and think about it, it is true though. It has been a very positive program. I think it has our employees feel very engaged that they have support behind them, not only of ASG, which is a pretty small company compared to the industry, but they have the Honeywell name, the First Alert name, they have the support behind them. They feel like they have the force of a thousand instead of a force of 100.
John Jennings: I can tell you there are many smaller dealers in the First Alert network and I admire those guys because I was a small dealer once too and working very hard to become a big dealer. That’s what’s supposed to happen to your company in America; you’re supposed to grow from small to large to larger and continue to grow. I admire a First Alert dealer that’s a million-dollar company or a $5 million company in revenues, or less. It gives them legitimacy. They’re a part of a bigger team. It allows me to interact with the Joe Nuccios of the world of ASG, who’s very good at acquisitions, and Joe Hassan, who’s excellent at marketing and doing his dealing, and John Bourque, who’s great at fire alarm systems and understanding wireless technology. And hopefully, I gave some of those back to you guys on what I’m doing.
I think it’s the sharing of ideas and information that I get the best out of any of my association work that I’ve done. It put me at a level with companies that are kind of like mine or somebody I want to be like. When I was in the NBFA, and I was working my way through the ranks, I always wanted to be like a Pat Eagan. He had a nice company and he grew his company. You also had others who ran some great companies and here I was a small guy looking up to them. Then First Alert came along and I was able to kind of get involved. I really appreciate the network and what it brings to the company as a whole. I think if you ask a majority of our employees you’ll hear the same thing that Joe said Bob said. I know Bob and he wouldn’t make that statement lightly, so I take that as a tremendous endorsement.
John Bourque: I was running out of interest within my local geographical area of my fellow alarm dealers. And when First Select came along, it gave me the opportunity to spread out beyond my local geographical areas and start meeting dealers like these guys [points around the table] from around the country. And ideas that I had I didn’t mind sharing because I wasn’t sharing it with my direct competitors. Everybody seemed to open up much more. So when we got together in the early days and shared ideas on what was successful and what was