Security-Net Membership Has Its Benefits
Individually, they are successful businesspeople who operate security integration firms throughout the country. But together, in the form of Security-Net, they are a group that can leverage their expertise, buying power and geographic reach to compete with the leading national integrators.
Founded in 1992, Security-Net is made up of 19 independent companies that stretch from coast to coast, north to south and encompass part of Canada. In recent years it has expanded to include independent systems integrators with business operations in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Jim Coleman, Security-Net vice president and president of Operational Security Systems in Atlanta, describes the core organization as “19 people who are good at what they do.”
While each member is an independent businessperson, there are benefits that come from being part of a group as well. For Coleman, it is about shared best practices and sharing lessons learned. “It is harder to tell peers when you screw up,” he acknowledges, “but over a period of time, you achieve a comfort level working with the same group of people. We can see and discuss trends that are happening in our area and elsewhere. With 18 others offering input, you can confirm your suspicions.”
In sharing the many business advantages participating in such an organization affords independent installing security integrators, Coleman and other Security-Net member company representatives provide food for thought for those continuing to go it all on their own. However, as you will see, it does require a level of commitment and as with most things you get out what you put in.
Called ‘Participating’ for a Reason
Joe Liguori, the current president of Security-Net, who recently began the second year of his two-year term, says Security-Net is comprised of individuals who meet specific criteria, and undergo an interview and selection process that takes into account their geographic location, size of business, security integration capabilities and commitment to Security-Net.
Every company that becomes a member is required to pay quarterly dues and have a representative attend four meetings each year: one each at ISC West, ISC East, ASIS and an annual meeting. There are also monthly conference calls that require mandatory participation.
“We want members who want to be engaged,” says Liguori, who in addition to heading Security-Net is also president of Access Control Technologies in Clifton, N.J.
While members are required to be active participants in meetings and serve on the various committees within Security-Net, there are definite benefits they accrue, says Liguori. “Independents are often at a disadvantage, in that their clients want the quality of a locally owned and operated business, but are also seeking the breadth of a national organization.”
Via Security-Net, a company whose client wants coverage not only where the integrator is based, but also in other cities nationwide, can get that because of Security-Net’s network. The company that gets the contract is the point person in charge of the installation, but then works with other Security-Net companies to carry out the project in other locales, just as a national operator would.
Building National Accounts
For his business, J. Matthew Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau of Exton, Pa., says the value of being part of Security-Net is that the organization serves as a fulfillment channel for national accounts. As a group, Security-Net has worked on national projects for health-care company WellPoint and pet food manufacturer American Nutrition.
“We can get quality integrators for our projects,” Ladd says. “We are working with the best of the region, not just a branch office.” He adds that with some national companies, one branch may not even know their counterpart in another part of the country. The Protection Bureau does business in as many as 30 states, so being part of Security-Net allows Ladd, who also sits on SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board, and his company to service clients nationwide with people he knows well.
Over time, says Ladd, Security-Net has formalized the process of working together, going from a handshake business to an organization with set “rules of engagement” such as how to price jobs, how to respond to a partner request, and so on. “That has made a major difference,” he says, and has strengthened Security-Net’s goal of working with a common purpose.
It’s about making 19 companies work as one, explains Coleman, adding that Security-Net allows members to answer those national firms that say a small company can’t be competitive. “This is our raison d’etre,” he says.
There’s Power in Numbers
Additionally, by forming a group, members of Security-Net have improved their purchasing power, says Liguori. With a combined size of about $400 million, Security-Net can go to manufacturers and make deals just as the largest integrators will do. “We have the same advantage as the big companies,” adds Liguori.
And, adds Coleman, by combining their buying power “and representing us as one of the group,” the members are able to have a closer relationship with manufacturers and deal with those higher up within the organization.
Of course, says Coleman, independents are just that because of their strong, entrepreneurial personalities. So coming together as a group can be challenging at times. “There is a lot of communication that goes back and forth,” he explains. “And when you’ve got 19 guys — all entrepreneurs with outsized egos — you have to get used to that. But we’ve learned to play nicely with others.”
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