5 Security Stars Join Hall’s Galaxy of Greats
Selfless leaders of two of the most respected family run installation and monitoring companies, a legal crusader for the security industry and its businesses, a pioneering alarm company owner and co-founder of the principal trade association, and an executive unsurpassed in boosting national providers’ fortunes are elected to SSI‘s Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement. Their stories elicit admiration, awe and inspiration.
CEO, Safeguard Security
“A major challenge has been the change in my team during our growth years. Names and faces have changed, which allowed the company to go to the next level. Difficult decisions had to be made, but at the end of the day it is about the business. In 1987 our company faced serious financial hardships, mainly caused by pricing of our installations. We brought in an outside consultant and immediately set about changing our pricing model. We were quite terrified with the results; our middle-of-the road systems went down in price while our top-of-the-line systems almost doubled. As it turned out, we were installing more top-of-the-line systems and increasing our margin, fixed our financial issues and dug out of the hole we had created. Today, when cash flow and profits are not what they should be I still walk back to the installation department and start ‘investigating.’”
Sharing Best Practices With Colleagues
“I truly relish my time that I get to educate other companies in our industry. It gives me great satisfaction to share my successes and failures with my peers. I have always felt that by teaching, one learns so much more. Every business has the same problems. They all stem from maintaining focus and having the right persons surrounding you. It is always heartwarming to have someone come up to me and tell me that he or she went home and tried what I had taught and their sales or profits increased by X percent. It makes it all worthwhile.”
Changing One Thing Overnight
“I would like to remove the siege mentality from the smaller companies. When Safeguard was small I embraced the larger companies and learned all that I could. It allowed me to dream and grow. In fact, the main reason I began to participate in the national trade associations was to learn more from the larger companies. I wanted to be like them. Too many companies today look at the large companies as a threat to their survival and therefore do not participate in our industry associations. They will only be a threat if you let them. Never lose sight of the fact that they were once small too!”
Most Memorable Moment
“Many come to mind but only one stands out — our offsite dinner cruise at the long-range planning meeting for NBFAA on Grand Bahamas Island. When the group arrived at the dock, the dinner cruise ship was in dry dock and it was raining. We ended up eating in the captain’s house with his four Dobermans, and they were not friendly. It was a total mess and the entire trip was that way, including [SSI Hall of Famer] Bob Bonifas wanting an ocean view room upon check-in and the desk advising him that the ocean was four miles away. It was one of our more memorable NBFAA trips.”
Lessons Learned Along the Way
“I learned a lot from my father. He was very fair with everyone, had very strong values and believed in giving back. He was an innovator who would sell something even before he had figured out how he was going to do it. We still have that true entrepreneurial spirit here today. I learned a lot about acquisitions, how to accomplish and finance from my many friends in the industry. They showed me how to acquire the right way and not be foolish. My bankers also taught me the right amount of growth. They taught me this by saying ‘no’ many times.”
Why He’s Going Into the Hall
- More than 35 years of guiding one of industry’s most respected companies, Safeguard Security, as well as tirelessly pushing industry causes forward and openly sharing business wisdom with colleagues
- Transformed firm from small residential security and patrol business to a fully thriving integrated security and solutions company routinely posting double-digit growth
- Helped establish Public Safety Committee for Arizona Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, one of the most respected, innovative and modeled in the nation
- Helped unify California Alarm Association and New York Burglar and Fire Alarm Association while co-chair of NBFAA’s Charter Chapter Committee
- Served as chairman of Security Network of America Association for five years
- Received NBFAA’s Morris F. Weinstock Award in 1991 for industry contributions
- Serves on SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board
The Jennings File
- Born 1953 in Phoenix
- One of three children, his father owned a life insurance company before acquiring a Photo Scan of America franchise in 1966 and then installing alarms in 1968; mother was a homemaker
- Married to Ricki Dee for 34 years, with one daughter, Sarah, who works for Safeguard
- Earned bachelor’s degree from University of Arizona in 1975 in public management
- Says he would have gone into banking had career taken a different turn
- Current chairman of board for nonprofit Hospice of the Valley
- Other interests include golf, traveling the world to fly fish and flying
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