Big Idea of the Month: Plan for Tomorrow by Being Heavily Involved in the Industry Today

Ron Davis talks to Becklar CEO Steve Richards about the importance of new technologies and being involved in the security industry.

The company that I founded over 25 years ago does M&A work exclusively in the alarm and the security integrator markets (yes, that’s my day job, and I love it!). However, for 20 of those 25 years, I have also done monthly interviews with probably hundreds of dealers.

I love doing that also, and those interviews appear as this column in Security Sales & Integration, one of the best publications in any industry. The luxury of doing this is a key to developing contacts and relationships throughout the industry, many of them lasting a lifetime. And that brings me to Steve Richards the CEO of Becklar.

Looking at him today, one can imagine a time he was into athletics, as well as academia. He spent the last 10 years managing M&A companies, private equity companies and investment companies. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy, and he sure gets excited when he talks about the people who have joined him at Becklar, one of whom enjoys the position of executive chairman and founder, Josh Garner.

A good man and one of the sons of the predecessor company to Avantguard (that being Rod Garner), a real visionary and good businessman. The cadre of young people that have come on board at Becklar is first class, and it is the key for Becklar.

Josh, and his brother Eric, are two mainstreams of the industry, and after an appropriate amount of time, took the company that their father and my good friend, Rod had started, Mountain Alarm, to Becklar. That gave the company a huge security platform, which today is 1.2 million subscribers, and their short-term goal is to reach 1.5 million subscribers by the end of this year.

In talking with Steve about his long-range programs, he mentioned that the industry has a plethora of monitoring centers, and he thinks that consolidations of some of the larger ones will bring about real economies of scale. He casually mentions that he would include private 911 companies as part of that market.

He envisions new technologies providing significant answers to the questions today’s industry asks. But he hastens to add that he’s got a pretty good job getting the company, as it is today, to the point where it could be a launching pad for new technologies and new products.

It seems as though the company is rapidly heading towards a whole new destiny that is probably not known today. And regardless of when the new technology comes about, the company is headed for significant size.

Think of all the airlines that used to be around, or all of the banks that were scattered all over the landscape. Those industries consolidated and today they are led by a relatively small number of operators. Although the industry has not finished with consolidation, both Steve and I feel that a great deal of it is going to take place at the wholesale monitoring level.

The wholesale monitoring industry has been given a new life as a result of the rapid growth achieved by companies like COPS Monitoring, Rapid Response and ADT all having (seemingly) rapid growth and successful integration of large numbers.

The company that Becklar acquired as its platform, Mountain Alarm, is also among the largest in the industry. Just like the original alarm industry, which consisted of over 18,000 independent operators that had to go through major changes that affected smaller dealers, but managed to bypass the larger companies (i.e. ADT, Honeywell, Smith Alarm, Vivint and others), it will probably include 911 centers in the mix.

And this leads me to the conclusions that Steve saw as part of the answer to “If you could share one really great idea with the industry, what would it be?” And of course, you, my dear readers, are going to ask the obvious question of “What shall we do now?” Steve had an answer for that.

“Go to as many tradeshow events as you can manage each year. Attend seminars that focus on new products coming out now and in the future. Ask questions. Formulate your own theories for your own company. And of course, keep this magazine and other trade publications coming to you, but focus on new technologies and products and after you read each article, ask yourself the question, ‘How does this apply to me?’”

Never has the phrase “plan now for tomorrow” been more appropriate and to the point! Oh, and make sure you have fun in everything you do.

About the Author

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Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Marketing Group (DMG), a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.

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