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Best of the Best: People Make Per Mar a Star

Like a highly disciplined athlete, Per Mar Security Services executes security business fundamentals to near perfection. Having finely honed its methods during the course of almost six decades, the Midwestern provider celebrates its first recognition as a SSI 2012 Installer of the Year.

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Talk about living up to your name. The “Per Mar” in Per Mar Security Services is an amalgam of personnel and marketing — qualities the firm personifies to such an extent that it has been named SSI’s 2012 Installer of the Year (Large company, 150+ employees).

“This honor means a lot to us. It validates the hard work and efforts of thousands of people over the past almost 60 years that a small-town, Midwestern values, family owned company can be considered one of the industry’s best,” says Director of Corporate Support Tim Smith, who has spent 15 years with the company.

Per Mar’s top-to-bottom excellence is predicated on its mission to be “Guardians of people, property, and profits for life,” and its pledge to deliver customers service and solutions rather than products. “From the top down our focus is service not product. We believe customers seek us out because they have a need. Our job is to listen to their needs and present them with a solution,” Smith adds.

Founded in 1953 by John and Eleanor Duffy on the front porch of their Davenport, Iowa, home, Per Mar has grown into one of the country’s largest privately held full service security companies. Today, under the second-generation leadership of CEO Michael Duffy, the firm operates four core business units: electronic security; security officers; background and investigative services; and fire protection (MidWest Alarm Services).

Serving Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana, half of Per Mar’s 20 locations (and 330 of its 2,600 employees) are focused on electronic security services. With more than 40,000 customers and $90 million in annual revenues, the business also operates its own UL/FM/CSAA Five Diamond central monitoring station. Offerings encompass everything from basic intrusion and fire alarms to access control and ID badging to video and medical alert monitoring, and beyond.<p>Per Mar Security is committed to charitable endeavors, having collected $1 million+ for causes such as the Red Cross, and participating to promote safety for children through Klaas Kids.</p>

“We have invested in a fully redundant disaster recovery site for our central station, and built a state-of-the-art data center that is one of only a few of its type in the U.S.,” says CIO Dan Turner, a 13-year Per Mar veteran. “The investment was mainly to become a leader in remote video storage. We have been working to design, build and offer a video storage service second to none. It is called Remote Vision.”

It is that type of progressive approach combined with the wisdom gained from decades of experience and a people-first mentality, both within and outside the organization, that helped set Per Mar apart. These factors and more make it a business worthy of admiration and emulation.

Customer Care a Team Effort

Per Mar’s exceptional customer service is primarily the responsibility of four core departments.

The customer care team handles invoice questions, central station account information, contractual questions and other service inquiries. The data entry team assures system data is clean and accurate for quick response times. Technical services supports field techs to meet customer needs, program panels for consistency, test systems and confirm signals. The central station remains in close contact with customers for verified response, video monitoring and dispatch service.

Some examples of how the company fulfills its customers’ needs include:

  • Providing postage-paid comment cards at the time of installation, service and on many central station alarms
  • Allowing customers to manage their central station accounts with online services
  • Giving new customers a packet covering everything from a welcome letter to dispatch procedures, commonly asked questions, panel information, payment options, etc.
  • Making many customer-friendly services available on its Web site that enable access to information, bill paying,  etc.
  • Training receptionists to provide a positive first impression, which helps reduce hold times and miss-transfer of phone calls
  • Having field reps periodically visit key accounts to confirm satisfaction, assist with security assessments, answer questions and educate on new services

“These are just a few of the ways we have structured our company to assure the customer can provide us feedback, access information at their convenience and talk to professionals about their needs,” says Smith. “This assures their sense of security is always intact and the way they want it.”

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Article Topics
Business Management · Best of the Best · Cover Story · Installer of the Year · Per Mar Security Services · SAMMY Awards · 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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Best of the Best, Cover Story, Installer of the Year, Per Mar Security Services, SAMMY Awards