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Peer Power

A handful of security company CEOs have discovered how sharing ideas and best practices brings them greater success. Members of a peer exchange group explain what’s involved and the rewards to be had.

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It’s not easy being an installing security systems company entrepreneur these days. But some progressive and open-minded owners are finding the best way to beat the local competition is by cooperating with those running similar operations in other parts of the country. This enables the sharing of ideas and best practices for the common good. It’s an approach that has been embraced by the eight principals brought together through the PSA Security Network who now participate in a peer exchange group (PEG).

The group’s members are: Debbie Horvath, Reliable Fire Equipment Co., Alsip, Ill.; Kurt Kottkamp, Enterprise Security Systems Inc., Charlotte, N.C.; Matthew Ladd, The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa.; David Levine, Security Control Integration, Albuquerque, N.M.; Jeff Nunberg, Integrated Security Systems, Miami; Brian Sullivan, PASS Security, Fairview Heights, Ill.; Pat Van Haren, SecurAlarm Systems, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Bob Vezina, Life Safety, Buffalo, N.Y.; and David Watson, Arcom Systems, North Little Rock, Ark.

PEGs are comprised of eight to 10 leaders or executives who have no personal or business connections that might inhibit open communication. The group commits to a shared set of meeting processes and language protocols that diffuse the usual interpersonal issues or political obstacles that can make meetings a waste of time. In a PEG, ideally everyone gets heard and everyone learns from the experience.  

“The philosophy is, ‘If two heads are better than one, imagine the power of eight to 10 heads composed of peers who have great process for helping each other in a confidential, nonjudgmental environment,’” says Mo Fathelbab, president of Forum Resources Network in Alexandria, Va., and facilitator of the PSA PEG. “PEGs provide business and personal growth.”

While the main objective is gaining experiences to inform their work life, personal issues and growth inevitably occur when the group has achieved a trusting bond. Most participants say the communication tools they learn in a PEG are useful in every aspect of their lives. PEGs are commonly outgrowths of affiliations with professional organizations. In this case, PSA Security Network - the world’s largest integrator co-op - served as the vehicle.

Just ahead, members of the PSA PEG describe how and why this unique approach works, and the specific benefits others could realize by doing likewise.

Professional and Personal Growth

Members believe their participation in the PSA PEG, which began in 2006, is time and money extremely well spent. Even when entering the program with heightened expectations, they say the professional and personal growth they have gained has surpassed anything they could have imagined.

“My original interest was purely to improve my knowledge base and company by sharing of information and best practices with my peers,” says Kottkamp, a 20-year industry veteran who launched his company in 2001. “The nature of our group and our meetings, however, has allowed us to develop very close personal relationships in which we all are interested in seeing one another succeed. It has given me an informal board of advisors to help guide and grow my business.”

Horvath, who 12 years ago became president of the firm founded by her father in 1955, agrees.

“My participation in PEG has provided a new confidential board for me to work within business and personal situations,” she says. “It has grown our revenues, enhanced our opportunities, created improvements in processes and procedures, and has introduced me to other premier industry leaders I may not have met otherwise.”

For Van Haren, some initial trepidation quickly resolved itself into satisfaction and eager anticipation of further engagement.

“I was skeptical prior to the first meeting of the value I’d receive,” he says. “That feeling went away quickly during the first meeting and I’ve never had second thoughts. PEG is a trusted, confidential forum for team processing of ideas and/or issues with talented, caring professionals. The result is real, actionable steps for both personal and business growth.”

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Article Topics
Business Management · Business Tools · Features · Peer Exchange Group PEG · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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Business Tools, Features, Peer Exchange Group PEG