SSI Industry Hall of Fame 2024: Aria Kozak, Elite Interactive Solutions CEO

Kozak became known as the Father of Remote Guarding on his way to earning a spot in the SSI Industry Hall of Fame.

SSI Industry Hall of Fame 2024: Aria Kozak, Elite Interactive Solutions CEO

One of Aria Kozak's greatest joys is spending time in nature with friends and family. (Contributed photo)

Yesterday, we kicked off SSI Industry Hall of Fame 2024 inductee week with Kelly Bond of Davis Mergers & Acquisitions Group. Today, we introduce the second of this year’s five honorees: Aria Kozak, chief executive officer of Elite Interactive Solutions.

SSI created the Industry Hall of Fame in 2004 to celebrate the highest achievers and the legends in our ranks…to spotlight the people whose imprint on the security industry is indelible.

This week, we’re adding five more incredibly deserving honorees to the SSI Industry Hall of Fame ranks, saluting their remarkable careers and their ongoing service in the overarching mission that unites us all — namely, the imperative to keep people, their families and their property safe.

Each of this year’s inductees exhibits the core characteristics that any SSI Industry Hall of Famer must possess: integrity, honesty, commitment, the zeal of an advocate and the unselfishness of a volunteer.

We asked each one to write in their own voice about what their keys to success have been, who their role models are, what their most cherished memories are and what they’d like their legacy to be.

The Kozak SSI Industry Hall of Fame File

  • Born in 1949 in Poland; third-born child, with three sisters
  • Family migrated to Israel in 1957; came to U.S. in 1970
  • Father wounded in World War II and worked in the tax department in Israel; mother was a housekeeper
  • Married wife, Donna, in 1971; two sons (both work for Elite ISI) and two daughters; nine grandchildren
  • Decorated officer with Israeli Army Special Forces
  • Other interests: soccer, marathons, waterskiing, snow skiing, snowboarding, reading, politics, and spending time in nature with friends and family
  • Role models: Aaron Rappaport, Kurt Mann, Ed Korn, Ron Spiller and Leo Guthart.

Why He’s in the SSI Industry Hall of Fame

  • Began his company with his first central station: Universal Alarm Systems
  • Introduced groundbreaking financing for his customer contracts from established financial institutions
  • Became known as “The Father of Remote Guarding”
  • Sold Universal to ADT, being paid the highest multiple ever: 50 times
  • As an executive for IntelliSec, oversaw revenue growth to almost $25 million and $2 million RMR in about 12 months
  • Founded Elite ISI, a real-time crime-prevention provider that incorporates leading-edge technologies, in 2007

“Following my experience as a decorated officer with Israeli Army Special Forces and relocating to America, I began my company with my first central station: Universal Alarm Systems. At that time, the industry relied solely on tape dialers and was hesitant to embrace new technology. As soon as digital technology became available, I implemented it by using Radionics. We also began incorporating two-way audio. Shortly thereafter, I introduced groundbreaking financing for my customer contracts by approaching TOPA Thrift and Loan, Imperial Thrift and Loan, and Inglewood Thrift and Loan. Previously, the industry had been unable to attract that type of monetary commitment from established financial institutions.”

“In the early 1980s, we established a successful marketing program with telephone solicitation and direct mail to businesses. We discovered those customers were contending with competitors that raised prices annually for outdated systems providing poor performance. We approached the accounts and charged them $0 to install new, better-performing equipment. And I matched the monitoring prices they’d been paying. Therefore, my creation costs were very low. Our accounts’ RMR average was a previously unheard of $120-plus. This approach held attrition to 4.1%, which was also unheard of.”

“In the late 1980s, recognizing the power of video monitoring, Radionics introduced OmegaVision. I was the first early adopter. It marked the beginning of video verification for the industry. It was just what I’d been looking for, and it led to being known as ‘The Father of Remote Guarding.’ Throughout that time, I also built the first three UL-approved central stations and incorporated the service options of patrols and armed guards.”

SSI Industry

“In the 1990s, I sold Universal to ADT since they paid me the highest multiple ever: 50 times. Fellow SSI Industry Hall of Famer Michael Barnes can attest to this, as it was his first transaction, and he has referred to Universal as the best company he’d ever seen. Then, I built a high-end integration company called IntelliSec. We tackled some of the U.S.’ largest, most complex projects. Those included the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, the Crystal Cathedral and the private residence of Father Mahoney, the Disneyland parking lot (including 1,000-plus PTZ cameras and Code Blue) and more. In 1999, when IntelliSec was at $5 million revenue and $75,000 RMR, another SSI Industry Hall of Famer, Lessing Gold of Mitchell, Silverberg and Knupp, introduced me to a venture capital group (Patricoff). Having recently lost Protection One as account, Patricoff set their eyes on IntelliSec after viewing our impressive accounts and business model.”

SSI Industry“Moving into the late 1990s and to the early 2000s, I stayed on as an executive for IntelliSec. Working closely with Jim Mackenzie and another SSI Industry Hall of Famer, John Mack, I focused on acquisitions and made the first four very successful ones. Within 12 months, our revenue grew to almost $25 million and $2 million RMR. Then came an acquisition Patricoff insisted on closing against my better judgment, leading to my resignation. Within 12 months, they filed for bankruptcy.”

“In 2007, I started Elite ISI, a real-time crime-prevention provider incorporating leading-edge technologies, including custom-calibrated video analytics and AI, highly skilled command center agents and trusted law-enforcement partnerships. The timing was right, and I had the expertise needed. It was the company I’d wanted to start since the beginning of my career — one focusing on crime and catastrophe prevention.”

Keys to Success

“I always strive to remain a student, knowing that tenacity, persistence and self-reinvention are essential. I recommend fellow security practitioners embrace migrating to new technology — that is the future. Along with that, remain true to your vision, while staying ethical and moral.”

Cherished Memories

“Most memorable to me was building Universal from the ground up and ultimately selling my first company to ADT at the highest-ever multiple.”

Change We Need

“I’d like to see a solution to the $1 trillion in annual revenue losses corporate America suffers (according to Allied Universal) due to security incidents. I’d also like the industry to continuously reinvent itself by keeping up with technology and becoming crime and catastrophe preventers.

 His SSI Industry Hall of Fame Legacy

“I’d like to be remembered as always fair, ethical and moral. Also, for breaking the stigma of monopolies, initiating creative business solutions and being at the forefront of remote guarding since 1985.”

Check out all of this year’s SSI Industry Hall of Fame inductees:

Then check out the stories behind all SSI Industry Hall of Famers since 2004:
A

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author

Contact:

Dan Ferrisi has been a B2B editorial professional since November 2004, covering the audio, video, lighting and music industries since the beginning of his career. Getting his start with Sound & Communications, he ascended from assistant editor, to associate editor, to eventually lead editor. He served as editor-in-chief of Commercial Integrator from November 2021 through August 2023 before being promoted to group editor, commercial and security, gaining oversight responsibility of the Security Sales & Integration brand, as well.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters