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 Mark Ein, majority owner and managing member of Kastle Systems.
Ein’s great idea:
The security industry will continue to evolve and flourish. On the commercial side, the Holy Grail is building systems and all of the RMR sources that go along with them.
Mark Ein is an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the co-chairman and principal shareholder of Kastle Systems, a leading provider of managed security systems. He’s also the founder and owner of the Washington Kastles, a franchise of the World Team Tennis Pro League. Ein’s name is well known throughout the Washington, D.C. area and his philanthropic activities are well documented.
No one would question whether or not Ein is a bright guy, but even I was taken aback by his great idea. What surprised me most was that it reveals the depth of perception Ein has about the industry. While many people in the industry are predicting the collapse of the business as we know it, he sees it not only as a thriving industry but one that will be around for a long time to come. So just what is it that causes people to not appreciate the opportunities that lie in front of us?
I guess the answer to that question resides in the cumulative psyche of businesspeople everywhere; notably, the resistance to change. Most of us — some says it’s as high as 95% of the population — are content with the status quo. These folks don’t really embrace, let alone understand, that with every change in any business of value there is a concurrent opportunity to achieve something even bigger.
Just look at the array of providers that comprise the electronic security and fire/life-safety industries. What you see is a cumulative total of growth, year after year after year. Want an example? Just when it seems as though the residential market is so beyond any potential growth, well, nature abhors a vacuum. And into that vacuum came direct-selling companies, led by Vivint. Hundreds of thousands of alarm systems were sold, even in markets where “experts” said we were reaching saturation. Today those so-called experts are saying we are reaching saturation once again. Yet, it’s not slowing down cable companies, telephone companies, other direct marketers, utilities, etc., from jumping into the industry.
Taking Stock of the Future
On the commercial side, Stanley, Tyco Integrated Security, Protection 1, among others, all seem to have opportunities to continue growing in the sector. Kastle Systems is one of the real leaders in remote managed security services, and Ein’s the guy who said the opportunities are bigger in front of us, than those that are behind us. I’m paraphrasing here, but it’s essentially the philosophy that most great thinkers and leaders in the industry embrace. Whether it’s commercial security, residential security or a combination of the two, you as an alarm dealer, should endeavor to determine what is the next “big thing” that you should be embracing.
Here’s what you can do in order to ensure that you’re a part of the next wave of opportunity in this industry. The next time you go to a trade show or an industry meeting where there are exhibitors in attendance, go to each of those vendors and ask a single question: “If I take on your product, what would my business look like in the next 10 years, and what will your company do to help me achieve that?” You’re probably going to get a lot of blank stares. A few people will, frankly, ignore you. But the ones who do sincerely reply are the keepers, because they’ve thought about this question. They have some answers. If you like what those answers are then you’ve got an opportunity to be in front of the pack, rather than chasing it.
Ein knows what it’s like to be a leader. He’s competitive. If a competitor like him thinks the future is pretty bright, perhaps you ought to as well.
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.