SSI Installers of the Year Share How They Handle Top Hurdles

Five Best of the Best winners share their companies’ top three challenges and how they deal with them.

SSI Installers of the Year Share How They Handle Top Hurdles

To hear the late Notorious B.I.G. tell it in his 1997 hit, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” it’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.

It is a matter of perspective, but from my vantage point for security dealer and integration companies, no matter how much more money or larger sized they become the problems remain more universal than not.

What changes most is the available resources to effectively deal with those issues. In any case, there are not too many firms unwilling to take on the “burden” of more revenues.

Regardless of size, being able to pinpoint, face and subdue challenges (or flip them into opportunities) is a hallmark of keen leadership and adroit management.

Those qualities are exemplified by SSI’s Installer of the Year winners featured in this 2019 Best of the Best Issue. Here is how Owen Security Solutions (small company category) Director of Operations April Chastain, Acadian Total Security (midsize company) Security Operations Manager Al Lanclos, and Securitas Electronic Security (large company) EVP, Field Operations & Enterprise Solutions Kevin Engelhardt, HR Vice President Pete Straka and President & CEO Tony Byerly see and are dealing with their companies’ top three challenges…

April Chastain: One is attrition. We are attempting to combat attrition rates by finding new and improved ways to ‘WOW’ our customers and turn them into raving fans. We have implemented our plans to dedicate account managers to only a particular amount of accounts to ensure that each customer is taken care of and receives a personalized experience. Education is another. Keeping up with constantly changing technology is a challenge in any industry.

We strive to continuously educate our employees with training and our customers with new product information, videos, newsletters and social media. Lastly is employee satisfaction. As we continue to grow, we continue to look for ways to keep the relationships among our team very tight-knit. We are constantly creating more job opportunities, encouraging growth, promoting from within and creating a work environment conducive to personal and professional growth.

Al Lanclos: First is the economy in Louisiana due to the oil and gas slump. We overcome that by diversifying our product offerings, and focusing on educating our customers on the necessity of having a security system and what it can do for them. Second is talent. Because of our rapid growth, it is hard to find qualified technicians.

So we improved our recruiting, onboarding and in-house training, including focusing on internal development and hiring from within, and working with community colleges. Finally is keeping up with technology and new products. We attend trade shows to preview what is new, check out security periodicals, press releases and webinars for new products and services, and work with vendors on product development and testing.

Kevin Engelhardt: First is maintaining our leadership position within commercial security in training, competency and certification for field associates. Thus we enhanced our focus on training with the expansion of SES University and our new SES Technician Certification Program. With security’s rapid advancement of technology, keeping our associates current in training and certification has proven to be an industry challenge that requires immediate adaptation to stay ahead of the competition.

Pete Straka: Next is matching the appropriate resources with SES’ growth. SES has expanded rapidly, now with approximately 1,500 associates in North America. At our Center of Excellence (CoE) — where security panels are programmed, tested and commissioned for thousands of businesses and projects — detailed inventory and resource planning is essential. The CoE has established project timelines based on customer needs, preventative maintenance, service and installation requirements. The blending of our centralized programmatic approach and [2018 acquisition] Kratos Public Safety and Security field infrastructure has given us a national reach with local touch.

Tony Byerly: Finally is the ever-changing risk of security in today’s society. Staying ahead of potential new risks and offering unique solutions to mitigate those risks will always be the challenge for security professionals. The future of security risks and technology needs is unknown, because the landscape is always changing. Therefore, emerging technology solutions require research and testing prior to deployment.

This concept is especially important when managing thousands of business locations to ensure success. We work diligently as a pure-play integrator with our strategic technology partners to determine the solutions our clients need to stay ahead of potential risks. Focusing solely on the needs of business clients furthers our ability to ramp up research and development efforts around the ever-changing risks, allowing us to be a trusted advisor to our clients.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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One response to “SSI Installers of the Year Share How They Handle Top Hurdles”

  1. As a person who has provided the security industry training solutions for almost 20 years, I was very encouraged to see each person in the article relate their success and their ability to manage threats to their businesses with education! Corporate learning is as important as sales and product development because without it your company will surely not thrive. Great insights from all interviewed!

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