Celebrating Departed Industry Stalwart Rod Garner

Ron Davis toasts to the good times of a recently passed security industry standout.

Several weeks before writing this month’s column, Rod Garner and I caught up with each other at an industry conference in Palm Beach, Fla.

We spent a few minutes kibitzing, talking about our respective families and then set about making plans for our annual steak dinner at the upcoming ISC West show.

We had been doing that for close to 30 years, maybe longer, and anybody who knew us, whether it be staff or industry friends or for that matter anyone looking for us, would know that on Wednesday night of the show, Garner and I would be having dinner at one of the premier steakhouses in Las Vegas.

We both looked forward to that because it gave us an opportunity to catch up, talk about industry issues, problems, opportunities, as well as our respective businesses.

When Garner and I first met, he was operating a rather small company in the Salt Lake City area, and I was a consultant, helping companies like his plan for the future.

I recall we met at a seminar I was conducting, liked each other immediately, and eventually became close friends. Over the years, we participated in a number of business transactions.

Once, a company I was chairman of bought Garner’s central station … 15 years later, we sold it back to him.

Success Spread Throughout U.S.

Little did I know that our meeting in Florida would be our last. Rod Garner died on Feb. 18, and my wife Beverly and I were there for the funeral. The cause of his death was complications from a minor surgery, which led to discovery of some significant health issues that ultimately conspired to kill my friend.

When he died, Garner was considered one of the most successful dealers in the industry, and his little company had grown to be a regional powerhouse, spread out over a multistate area, employing hundreds of people, and monitoring and servicing tens of thousands of customers.

That central station we bought and sold back became AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, one of the largest wholesale monitoring companies and run by Garner’s oldest son, Josh.

Another son, Eric, is CEO of the multistate alarm company, Mountain Alarm, for which Rod had been president and CEO. The funeral — the largest I have ever attended — was a resounding testimonial to Garner’s personality, leadership, community service and friendship.

I would suspect there were several thousand people in attendance, at least it seemed that way. During the service, his five grown children each spoke about a singular experience they had had with their father that exemplified what he stood for.

During one of the testimonials, my mind drifted off and was I thinking about all of the wonderful times that I knew would have been in store for his children and grandchildren. What a loss.

While I was having this thought — I swear this is the truth — I felt a hand on gripping my shoulder and shaking it, as if to say, “It’s all okay, Ron.” I turned to see who was holding it, but all I saw were people fully engaged in listening to the speaker.

I glanced at my wife and saw her hands folded in her lap and a look of concentration on her face also listening. There was no one who could have been holding my shoulder, but I’ll keep believing a message had been delivered.

Stay Focused on the Positives

So in the spirit of this column, let’s say Garner was sharing his greatest idea, at least in that moment. It has to do with something that he and I had discussed at many of those dinners we shared.

I think that he was trying to tell me to not focus on the sadness of the day, but rather, on the good times that we had enjoyed, the stories we had told, the successes of our children and grandchildren, our adoration of our respective wives, and the great fortune we had enjoyed, each in our respective businesses.

The message for you, loyal reader, is to remember that with all of the changes that the industry is undergoing, and with all of the issues that you will be facing in the coming months and years you will always have a choice of what to focus on: the problem, or the solution.

It’s as simple as that. Which option do you choose? I know which one Rod Garner would focus on, and since I’m sure he’s reading this column somewhere, I am equally sure he would agree with it. See you later, Rod.

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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