Hawaii-based Security Integrator IST Overcomes Adversity to Find ‘Unlimited Opportunity’
Integrated Security Technologies’s husband-and-wife management team discusses how to satisfy commercial clients.
MOST people know Hawaii’s unofficial motto is “hang loose”; but when you’re protecting critical information, resources or people, that’s pretty much the last thing you can do with an integrated security system.
So, although Andrew and Christine Lanning started Integrated Security Technologies (IST) in the heart of paradise almost two decades ago, they won’t rest until their customers — primarily in the department of defense, federal and local governments, and health-care markets — are secure in their surroundings.
Don’t let the carefree flowered shirts fool you: the Lannings know their work is the vital link between customers and security. But how did a guy born in Kentucky and a girl who spent her childhood in Iceland end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? And how does that faraway location affect the work they can and can’t get?
Andrew came to Hawaii at the end of 1986 and served aboard the USS Joseph Strauss. “I did any job I could for the Navy to stay in Hawaii,” he says with a laugh, although he did leave the islands for about a year to work in a graduate program at the University of Kentucky.
While in Kentucky, Andrew began installing commercial alarm systems with an ex-Marine friend. After one winter in Kentucky he returned to Hawaii and found his way to Sentinel Alarm Co. He was unsuccessful at convincing Sentinel’s ownership to move into the systems integration space, but he did meet his future wife, Christine.
Christine, a 2014 ASIS Women of the Year honoree and first-ever female PSA Security Network board member, was a Navy brat whose father was an electronics technician. Her family moved around often, including going from South Carolina to Iceland to Hawaii when she was a young girl.
At Sentinel, she moved from accounting to sales administration while attending junior college on evenings and weekends. She ultimately earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and a Master’s of Science in information systems. Christine’s training led her to managing the computer network for a prestigious local law firm, a job she kept during the early years of IST. Christine’s IT experience coupled with her formal education was a direct complement to Andrew’s applied Department of Defense (DOD) integrated weapons system experience and Master’s degree in communications.
“We didn’t see a great future in alarms and Sentinel wasn’t interested in doing integration,” says Andrew. “I was excited about that kind of business and I had a credit card, so I started the business and I’ve been broke ever since.” Could that be because Andrew and Christine got married the same day they got their IST business license? “If we knew what we were getting into, we never would’ve done this,” says Andrew jokingly. “It was just a willingness to start a company.”
Let’s set course for the South Pacific and find out how the Lannings intend to more than double their business beyond the $5 million mark this year and advice they have for other firms looking to catch the security integration wave.
Getting Their Feet Wet
“It took a little while for IST to establish its reputation on the island,” says Andrew. “My experience selling was more technical and Sentinel was very established at that time. There’s not a lot of trust of new companies here because they come and go so often.
“Calling on clients as IST was a lot more difficult than calling on them as Sentinel, which was nearly a household name. It’s not an uncommon story.”
Christine anticipated some of those challenges, having grown up Hawaii, but that didn’t make the task any less daunting. IST made its first sale in June 1998, securing a state bid job installing an outdoor, video-verified alarm system for the Department of Transportation that included outdoor motion sensors. Andrew called on the DOT after bids had closed and found a way to offer a solution lower than any of the bids they had received. “It was a door-opener,” he says.
In another early win, IST was contracted by the Crunch Fitness franchise to install networked video surveillance systems nationwide, including locations in New York, Miami and Los Angeles. IST’s big break, though, came a year or so later when it got together with Lenel to outfit Tripler Army Medical Center with access control, intercom, video and intrusion detection systems. “That integrated system model became the standard for many of the U.S. Navy and Army facilities in Hawaii,” says Andrew.
IST has become the go-to security integrator for the Kaiser Permanente Healthcare chain in Hawaii, among others. It also benefits from being a women-owned company in the federal government Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8a set-aside program, which allows IST (and others in the group) to compete for projects before they go out to bid. The company also has its hands on clients statewide in the financial sector, local refineries, hospitality and various educational campuses. Among IST’s recent work is a project outfitting radio towers for the Honolulu government, an undertaking made more challenging due to the pure height of the installations and troubles with the project management bureaucracy. Despite the obstacles, IST brought these projects in on time and on budget, and is continuing the modernization program in 2016.
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