The Big Idea: Sometimes, Saying ‘No’ Can Yield More for Alarm Dealers Than Saying ‘Yes’

When an opportunity could deviate you from your established goals, just say no.

In person, Stanley Oppenheim is a big man. Within the industry, he is considered a giant. Throughout nearly 40 years I have gotten to know him pretty well, and sparred with him often (verbally – he would have killed me physically, though in any case I almost never won). He has a prodigious intellect, and a mind that has not lost anything with the passage of years. He is the president, CEO and owner of DGA Security, as well as Affiliated Monitoring, in New Jersey.

DGA is a well-respected and well-entrenched, primarily commercial security company servicing the New York metropolitan area. Affiliated — pretty much run by Oppenheim’s son Daniel — is architecturally and physically one of the most beautiful, employee-centric and versatile wholesale monitoring companies (don’t just take my word for it, go see for yourself).

Oppenheim has been active in the industry for a long time, has earned almost any recognition the industry is capable of giving him (including induction this year into SSI’s Industry Hall of Fame) and has long been recognized by competitors and friends alike as one of the most innovative and successful businessmen the industry has known. He is not an individual to be taken lightly.

When I called and asked him my signature question, I sat on the other end of the line waiting with profound anticipation. After a few moments, he said, “Ron, it’s what any parent would teach their children – you have to learn to say ‘no!'” Sensing a little bit of a letdown from me, he then went on to add, “You can make more money in one day by saying ‘no’ than you will ever get by saying ‘yes.’ Try not to be all things to all people. Define who you are by what it is you do – actions always speak louder than words.”

You can make more money in one day by saying ‘no’ than you will ever get by saying ‘yes.’ Try not to be all things to all people. Define who you are by what it is you do – actions always speak louder than words. – Stanley Oppenheim

After we were off the phone, I sat and pondered what he’d said. Oppenheim is too bright a guy to say anything trite, and I knew he was speaking from the heart. Was there a greater message here? Thinking about it later, I was pretty sure there was. Now this may not work for some people, but for the rest of us, it is right on the money. And money may be the end result of Oppenheim’s great idea.

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You see, he built DGA according to a formula that was in his head — one I suspect he rarely, if ever, deviated from. What the exact makeup of that formula was, I don’t know, but I do know that he has built one of the most significant businesses in the industry, in the toughest U.S. market. And while he has surrounded himself with a great team and obviously knows how to manage people, I suspect the business was built almost singularly on his shoulders.

And maybe that larger message I sought in his answer has to do with meaningful goal setting. By being able to say “no” when something may cause you to deviate from your chosen path, a person is much more likely to pursue the accomplishment of their established goal. And I believe that’s just what Oppenheim did, and in so doing, reached his goal … and then some!

The fruits of reaching your goals are almost immeasurable. In Oppenheim’s case it involved being able to purchase a building in midtown Manhattan, and establishing it as the headquarters for DGA. Then, as if he knew from the very beginning it was only a beginning, he filled each of the five floors in that building with one of the most magnificent poster art collections ever amassed. You can walk into any office, any part of the building, and facing you is a motivational poster, which in itself is a noted piece of art, and taken as a part of the whole a wonderful collection, shared with everyone who works at DGA’s headquarters.

Then, if you were to take a short drive to a truly world-class central station, you would see more of Oppenheim’s dream. We were there on Halloween, and everyone was dressed in a costume, including Daniel as a buccaneer, and everybody having one heck of a good time. The pizza was pretty good, too.

Unfortunately, very few people have the opportunity to spend a day with Oppenheim and see his world, through his eyes. It’s a wonderful experience, and if ever an opportunity presents itself for you to visit either or both of the operations, do yourself a favor and seize it. And as we head into the new year, try something new and learn how to say “no.” I’ve tried it for a few days, and it’s amazing what simple adherence to this philosophy will generate.

Bio: Ron Davis is an 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. E-mail him at [email protected]

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Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Marketing Group (DMG), a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.

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