Why Now May Be the Right Time to Migrate Into Integrated Systems

Ron Davis shares the success story of a “total source provider” and offers questions to ask ISC West exhibitors.

Doug Fearing and his wife, Lois, are integrators — not alarm dealers. Yes, they service, install and do a pretty good job of looking like they are alarm dealers, but make no mistake about it they are systems integrators.

I guess their company name, Fearing’s Audio Video Security, gives that fact away. The website details the company’s mission to be a “total source provider” when it comes to low-voltage offerings — audio, video, surveillance, access control, alarms, structured cabling and automation — that commercial and residential clients might otherwise seek from multiple contractors.

As Doug enthused during a recent interview, “the more complex the job, the more we love it” and the more excitement it generates for the business.

Customers Benefit From Expanded Offerings

The Fearings say their employees feel the same way, that they just can’t help embracing technology and wanting to grow the company with anything that’s new.

Sound like a scattered business? Not to the Fearings. Their customers appreciate the potential of integrated systems and new technology also; since Fearing’s AVS profits have improved dramatically they’ve expanded from their home office in Madison, Wis., to nearby Milwaukee.

Of course, having experience with RMR from being in the alarm business, they learned that lesson and are also profiting from introducing maintenance agreements for all the products and systems that they now sell to customers.

Yes, the company is doing well. When it wasn’t doing so well, during the middle of the last recession, as Doug put it, “We got down on our knees, and prayed for help and guidance.”

While they might have received the help and guidance they sought, it is just as likely that by getting off their knees and getting back to work they discovered the real joy of doing something that gave them pleasure, was needed in the community, and fulfilled them.

This was the subject that I was calling Doug to chat about. Call me slightly irreverent for the point about them getting off their knees, but whatever it takes to find success I’m all for it. It seems to me that when a person finds their passion in work, it becomes a lot easier to find success.

You see, with all of the conflicting input we hear about the future of the alarm industry, that industry is still here. But what is equally relevant is the fact that many alarm dealers have evolved into full-service integrators selling everything from fire, video, access control and basic security systems to commercial businesses.

We’re seeing more and more of these businesses achieving greater success than had seemingly been enjoyed in the past. I think that reflects on the overabundance of products and services that are now being offered into the security industry.

Security Showcase Spotlights Commercial Possibilities

You can see this for yourself at this year’s ISC West show in Las Vegas. What used to be a relatively small event drawing only upon traditional alarm dealers is now a mega trade show attracting tens of thousands of current and potential dealers.

The product showcase is evolving. Drones are flying, robots are roaming freely around the exhibit floor and all manner of products and services directed at commercial accounts are being shown and demonstrated.

If there ever were a time to explore expansion into the commercial market with integrated systems, now is that time. Whether it is to see new fire systems, access control, guard and patrol services, video cameras, or any combination of these things, the ISC show is the place to be.

Not only to view and play with the products, but also to get training, motivation and help in starting a business in any or all of these areas. Given the amount of emerging technology and new-to-you solutions you will encounter in Las Vegas, here are some questions you might ask potential suppliers as you’re going from booth to booth:

  • What are the barriers to entry into marketing these products or services?
  • How difficult would it be to integrate these products into my offerings?
  • What level of support can I expect, especially given the size of my business and lack of experience with your products?
  • What’s a reasonable expectation that I might have for achieving success with this product?

I’m not sure if Doug and Lois Fearing went through all of these questions while deciding to expand their integrated services to commercial clientele. Doug kept going back to how he and the people around him just love technology and learning about how tying all this technology together can be utilized to improve business. Does this kind of passion keep you motivated too?

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About the Author


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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