Bright Ideas: CEOs Keep Their Eye on the Prize
If you want your security business to be more successful then you’ve come to the right place. In a relaxed but frank forum, four of the industry’s top independent integrator company executives come clean on what’s behind their winning ways.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
That famous battle cry translates perfectly to the mindset of the business leaders who are winning today’s security integration wars. Under attack by a merciless economy, cutthroat competition, dearth of able-bodied manpower, atrophied margins, shifting marketplace demands, keeping pace with technology, credit-line crunch and rising operational costs, these savvy and strategic company owners and managers are outmaneuvering these adversarial forces. SSI recently convened with four of these “generals” for a debriefing of their integrator intelligence.
Participating in the high level, closed-door roundtable conducted during this year’s PSA-TEC event outside Denver, were company Presidents Dan Budinoff (Security Specialists, Stamford, Conn.); Jeff Nunberg (Integrated Security Systems, Miami); Ron Oetjen (Intelligent Access Systems, Garner, N.C.); and Vice President/CEO Andrew Lanning (Integrated Security Technologies, Honolulu).
Like four great military leaders hunkered down in a hidden bunker to plot a course for world domination, these highly successful executives share their war stories in a lively, interactive and candid discussion marked by revelation, discovery and mutual benefit. Consider them advisors to ensure your own business is victorious. The hot topics include drafting a managed services master plan, recruiting and training an army of IT-capable personnel, providing customer personalized attention, outgunning competitors and contending with regulatory constraints.
Real quickly and introduce yourself and give a little background about your company, your market focus, your geographic location, and your mix of clients.
Ron Oetjen: I’m Ron with Intelligent Access Systems. Our vision is the I-85 Corridor between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. We do have offices outside of that in Tampa and Pittsburgh. Our key clients are mostly in the critical infrastructure, health-care and higher education markets. We’ve been in business since 2003.
Dan Budinoff: I’m Dan of Security Specialists with our main office in Samford, Conn. Established in 1978, we’ve been around a little while. Hopefully I’ve learned something. Our primary focus is on health care and Fortune 100 companies, also the education vertical so kind of an interesting mix. We cover the New York, Connecticut, New Jersey market and that’s about it.
Jeff Nunberg: I’m Jeff Nunberg with Integrated Security Systems. We’re based in Miami, Fla. We have offices throughout Florida and the Carolinas. Our focus is the financial industry, pharmaceutical manufacturing, health care and critical infrastructure as well. That pretty much covers it.
Andrew Lanning: Andrew Lanning with Integrated Security Technologies. Our geographic area is Hawaii and the Pacific territories, Guam, American Samoa. The verticals we represent are pretty much all the commercial verticals in Hawaii: health care, finance, utilities, DoDs and other large clients. Half of our business is DoD in Hawaii and that’s air force, marines, navy, coast guard and army. I have a GSA schedule as well so we also sell product outside of Hawaii but not services. And we started in 1988.
Hosted or managed services have received a lot of attention. What is your sense of it thus far? What is your reality versus the hype, and ultimately what does the cloud mean for your business?
Oetjen: It’s that paradigm shift every industry has; it’s where we’re going. The interesting thing we’ve seen is Florida and Atlanta has been our big markets for managed and hosted services. The smaller markets we haven’t been as successful. Florida has been the easiest market, by far, because it’s got so much Class-A office space in the Tampa and Orlando market. The same with Atlanta; just overwhelmed with Class-A office space. In the Raleigh/Durham [N.C.] market, you see startups and incubator companies that you can sell managed services to, but the big tech companies there haven’t been interested.
So we’ve seen geographical success with the managed and hosted services. Probably the most significant managed and hosted opportunity is a regulated natural gas company owned by a private equity firm in Pennsylvania. This company came to us and said, “We want you to manage our ID badges, make them, deliver them, everything, and same with our video.” They have about 17 locations, 10,000 employees now, and quite a few cameras and readers.
Nunberg: One of my large customers is an energy corporation and at the end of the day we spend a lot of time protecting their critical infrastructure. One of the most important things we protect for them is the connectivity. So to host that, I don’t know if that was something that I would ever even be comfortable doing, although I’m an up-for-a-challenge kind of guy.
Oetjen: In Pennsylvania, we’ve done more with the critical infrastructure companies, power, water, gas; those are the ones where we’ve done a lot of managed video. It’s merchant plants that provide power to the grid but they don’t have their own substations, they don’t have huge staff but they fall under the same regulatory requirements as any other monster power company. We’ve been able to do the managed video and save them a lot of money, as long as we can meet the same regulatory requirements they have, meaning six-wall perimeter, all those things that you have to do to be compliant.
Lanning: Do you bundle it with the connectivity, so IP for their office for example?
Oetjen: Typically, we work with their IT department. Some of these small co-ops may have one or two guys in the IT department and nobody in security. So you’ve at least got a guy that you can go to and get the secure connection set up. Most of the time we work with their IT group to do it all remotely. The panels connect back to our central station or our hosting location. We have two; a primary one in a third-party datacenter and our backup is within the datacenter in our office.
Nunberg: That’s great, good to hear. We personally struggled in that market trying to build a recurring revenue business around managed and hosted services. I’ve looked at different access control products over the years and never had one I was comfortable with. Lenel is supposed to be deploying their product and I’m holding my breath hoping it will work. We’re a Lenel house and have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in that training over the years. One thing we’ve done recently was we deployed VideoIQ as an alarm system. The IQ cameras are fantastic. We’ve deployed hundreds of them. We did our first car dealership with it. A buddy of mine owns several car dealerships and I said, “Mario, let me put these in for you.” I put it in his luxury dealership where we’re protecting Porsches, Ferraris and things like that. It’s worked tremendously and they’re paying us recurring revenue for that.
So I’m training some sales guys now to go out and specifically target video as an alarm, not necessarily car dealers, anybody who’s using a guard service, anybody who has an open yard, anybody who may be protecting a fleet, things of that nature. I see that as being a huge hit for us. I’m a little concerne
d about the central stations that are out there offering the service and ultimately I think I may be forced to go on my own.
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