Solutions + Services = Future Success

In an exclusive SSI roundtable, four leading integrator company CEOs debate the winning formula to remain relevant in today’s changing business environment. All share the pains of transitioning to a managed services model, and the belief that doing so is critical.

The top two challenges facing installing security systems integrator companies today are transitioning to new, service-based business models, and recruiting people with the requisite mindsets and skill sets to make it happen. That’s the gospel according to the wisdom imparted during a recent roundtable discussion among leading integrator executives moderated by SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION.

Those broad-stroke issues contain myriad moving parts and facets, all of which were addressed in revelatory detail by the leadership brain trust, which was brought together during this year’s PSA-TEC event outside Chicago. Taking part in the candid, closed-door session were CEOs Matthew Ladd (The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa.), David Levine (Security Control Integration, Albuquerque, N.M.), Pierre Trapanese (Northland Control Systems, Fremont, Calif.) and Eric Yunag (Dakota Security, Sioux   Falls, S.D.).

Enriching the highly interactive dialog were the facts that not only does each participant head a highly successful operation but together they provide an especially diverse industry perspective given their varying ages and geographies. So expansive were their viewpoints that what follows is only half the story. The rest can be found at

What business challenges are foremost in your mind as we sit here today?

Eric Yunag: First, the change in dynamic of margin on product and monetizing more of the service aspect of our business. It’s about trying to monetize the front side of our relationships from a consulting basis along with design and engineering, and looking forward because those product margins are not going to be coming back. That’s one of the biggest things we’re working on addressing for the next several years.

Secondarily is the increase in competition from various aspects of IT and the commoditization of our products in general. This isn’t new, but it becomes more common every day that people have options, not just security integrators to supply surveillance. We’re addressing that by developing programs on the managed services side and pushing to really differentiate the security expertise we bring to the table that IT companies don’t have. Yes, they have the channel for some of their products. Yes, they potentially understand how to program the IP address of it. But there’s really a value in the security expertise we offer.

David Levine: We’re also seeing the commoditization of our products, the lowering of margins, the pressure from IT integrators and electrical contractors, and the increase in intelligence of what was historically a smaller population of lower level alarm dealers who weren’t necessarily in the integration world who now are. So the pressure on our business is just as great in the same way. How do we set ourselves apart? How do we bring that security expertise? How do we bring that expertise to the customer who can hang the camera on their network, who can put the card reader on the network, but doesn’t understand it from a security perspective and may not understand it from a code perspective? Working quite a bit in utilities, we now have so much more government oversight. Federal oversight in that environment with regards to security and the intelligence is so much greater.

How do you overcome that?

Levine: It’s really a simple approach. We’re going back to our customer base and establishing that intelligence. We are establishing ourselves as the authority. We’re changing some of our approach on the installation side to minimize that tension. Where we used to buy lots of copper wire, we don’t buy any now. Where we used to have tradesmen who understood how to hang the devices and made sure we were aesthetically polite when it comes to a certain building, our staff is now more at the project manager level. We’re subcontracting now, where we’re paying for more intelligence across the board and we’re finding we don’t have the lower level skill. We need the higher level skill to set ourselves apart.

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Tagged with: Features Business

About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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