President, Per Mar Security Services
Keys to Success
“My parents allowed me, at a very young age, to take over responsibility of the company and learn a lot of things the hard way while they were still alive to support me. I’d like to be thought of as fair, firm and consistent by my colleagues and someone who always tried to do the right thing, had high ethics and high integrity. I attribute the success we’ve had as a company to the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, both mentors and co-workers. My greatest professional accomplishment would be the many great employees that are able to support their families through this business. Some of the greatest challenges I’ve faced are people challenges. I’ve learned you overcome them by sharpening your saw — attending seminars and participating in trade association meetings to share best practices when it comes to working with people.”
Early Years and Lessons Learned
“Early days in the industry were spent working long hours, drinking lots of coffee and smoking a lot of cigarettes. We tried to figure things out the hard way — we’re much more professional today. I believe they call that working smarter, rather than harder. I also learned the harder you work, the luckier you get. You should be nice to people on your way up because you may meet them on your way down. You should treat everyone equally; we all put our pants on the same way.”
Industry Change and Business Impact
“Obviously technology has been the most prevalent change but most issues remain the same. One consequence would be in many cases, the customers may receive more timely service. However, the ‘people’ aspect suffers and relationships aren’t as close as they used to be years ago. With so many advances and so much automation available, we have strived to use those in areas that will benefit the customer most, such as online services, paperless options and having the most cutting-edge equipment. However, our central station still answers live 24 hours a day and we encourage face-to-face interaction with our customers.”
Dedicated to Community Service
“I’m currently involved in the Buoniconti Fund, an organization that was created to help cure paralysis; Quad City Cultural Trusts; and Assumption High School Long Range Planning Committee. I also like to support the local political agendas to best benefit taxpayers and support the free enterprise system. Through the years I’ve been involved in a number of charitable endeavors; I’ve chaired fund drives and served on boards of not-for-profits, including a high school and a university. Per Mar also has a committee, led by my daughter, to ensure we’re helping in all of the communities we serve.”
Why He’s Going Into the Hall
- More than 45 years of security business experience, 35 leading one of the industry’s most successful independent operators, Per Mar Security Services, and dedicating much time and effort to industry and community causes
- Positions held include dispatch supervisor, alarm manager and vice president of operations; appointed executive vice president and COO in 1974 before taking over as company president in 1977
- Oversees operations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota
- Oversees offerings that include security officers; mobile patrol; event management; commercial, residential and industrial intrusion and fire alarms systems, CCTV and remote video storage systems, managed access and access control systems; private and background investigations; and UL-Listed CSAA Five Diamond Certified central station monitoring
- Involved in more than 60 security company acquisitions
- Founder/director of Per Mar Guard Training Academy, a training facility for guard instruction approved by Illinois’ Department of Registration
- Has conducted crime conferences for U.S. Small Business Administration throughout Iowa, lectured at colleges and is active in many security associations and organizations
- Per Mar Security Services was named an SSI Installer of the Year in 2012
The Duffy File
- Born March 17, 1950, in Minneapolis
- One of three children, father was a private investigator, mother a market research analyst; together founded Per Mar Security Services in 1953
- Married to Linda since 1973, with seven children and 15 grandchildren
- Four children work at Per Mar Security; two sons are branch office general managers, one daughter in sales and another heads the firm’s charity fund
- Pitched a perfect game while playing baseball as a youth
- Graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, with bachelor’s degree in business administration
- Says he might have been a Catholic priest if career took different turn
- Other interests include reading, family time, and studying business and politics
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