Idea of the Month
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month’s great idea comes from Ralph Masino, CFO of Beltsville, Md.-based ASG Security.
Masino’s great idea:
Strive to create a win-win relationship with your sales and operational teams, and externally with vendors, capital providers and sellers. Focus on adding value every day and being a trusted partner through open and honest communications.
Suppose you’re on an airplane that is having engine difficulties and all you want is to hear the calming voice of the captain for reassurance. Just hope it could be from the likes of Ralph Masino.
Masino, who serves as CFO for super regional ASG Security, is cool, calm, collected and always thinks before he talks. To expound upon his big idea this month: Masino emphasizes it’s all too easy to simply say “no,” but being able to create acceptable solutions requires listening, thinking outside of the box and applying the art of compromise.
If you’re in the administrative or financial side of your business, reread Masino’s quote over and over again, and recognize that he — working closely with President and CEO Joe Nuccio — has vaulted ASG into one of the largest security companies in the industry.
Since my primary business is that of a broker in helping sellers find buyers within the alarm industry, I’m used to working with all kinds of people whose responsibility is the financial administration of a business. They seem to fall into several categories. The largest, unfortunately, is the category of the controllers; literally, they believe that they should control every aspect of the business. Lord help those who don’t agree. Controllers are usually pretty capable financially, but truly lack good people skills.
The second category is what I call the middle of the roaders, those who aren’t quite astute at the financial side, are not really qualified to run a company, but tend to want to do both. Thirdly, there’s the competent incompetent, those who appear to know what they’re doing but are afraid to admit what they don’t know, and are really quite incompetent at the job they do. Finally, there are people like Masino, people I call the competent ones. The competent ones think like the big idea attributed to Masino above.
Becoming a Trusted Partner
There is no accountant or financial player in the industry who lives in a vacuum, nor should they. Think about Masino emphasizing the need to create win-win relationships. He has built a strong team spirit among those that he interfaces with at ASG, and he never makes someone feel inadequate. He always makes sure everyone involved in a discussion walks away feeling as though they have contributed positively.
A financial person can always say “no” and be able to justify it. But that isn’t always a team-building exercise. True financial professionals rarely use the word “no,” but rather explore what are the alternatives to any problem they may be facing. I’ve negotiated with Masino on a number of transactions and almost always he has been willing to compromise in the best interest of accomplishing mutual goals. His ideas on focusing on adding value every day by being a trusted partner are spot on.
I was reminded of this just the other day when I was flying back to Chicago. The captain made an inflight announcement about some minor difficulty with the airplane. The manner in which he spoke — and later when I saw him after landing, the professionalism he exuded — was the image of a competent individual on top of his game.
Here’s a question you might want to think about: Do you have that look? If not, it’s as simple as focusing on the basics and rereading Masino’s mantra of what he considers to be his role in the company.
Ron Davis is a SSI Hall of Fame inductee and President of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group Inc. Also known as The Graybeards, the company is active in acquisitions and mergers exclusively in the alarm business.