A Security Salute to Bob Harris
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine reflects on his friendship with the late security industry veteran Bob Harris.
In the back half of 1998, as a new hire at Security Sales magazine and accompanied by some editorial associates, I visited an alarm company for the first time — in what my employer termed a reader call.
Located about 20 miles north of the publication’s then Torrance, Calif., offices, Culver City’s Pacific Alarm Systems (now part of SSD Alarm) was a leading local security systems dealer. While that firm served as an ideal introduction to the alarm business, the experience was all the more impactful thanks to Pacific’s personable and outgoing general manager — Bob Harris.
Having been associated with the electronic security industry since 1977, Bob’s close relationship with and advocacy for Security Sales well preceded my arrival. His keen interest and involvement in the alarm business and its community through trade associations, along with a philosophy to go above and beyond to do right by customers, was as evident as his jovial good nature.
That first encounter set the stage for Bob to become one of my industry mentors as well as a valued supporter, sounding board, friend and confidant. And as a contributing writer, expert source and in more recent years a member of SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board, he also regularly and generously shared his insights and advice with fellow security professionals.
Through the years, Bob and I kept in constant touch on the phone, through emails and in person. It was always a pleasure, and often educational, to catch up with him. No matter how busy he was or what else was going on in his sometimes hectic life, he never failed to find time to respond — even when hustling between connecting flights.
Still he would often apologize for not being able to give more, and could always be counted on for thoughtful, knowledgeable, compassionate and good-humored input.
Travel for him was frequent after he parted ways with Pacific Alarm and switched course to launch his own company in 2003, The Attrition Busters.
Through public speaking engagements and onsite company training, that business allowed him to fully unleash and share his great passion to promote the highest degree of professionalism and customer care throughout the security and other service-oriented industries.
Forever optimistic about what he saw as enormous opportunities in front of security providers, regardless of the economic or competitive environment, he enthusiastically emphasized and explained how to execute ongoing company adaptation, empower employees and never fail to delight a customer.
His inspiring guidance helped further the fortunes of many of the industry’s most successful companies, and he sometimes was brought in to address arena-sized audiences. Throughout his journey we would compare notes, commiserate about common challenges or frustrations (often alarm company owners’ reluctance to embrace change or invest to improve their operations), talk about family matters and rejoice in each other’s victories.
I helped allay his apprehension striking out with his own business and weathering the recession, and he did the same for me through the stress of three SSI ownership transitions.
In late October I conferred as usual with Bob about a new publishing initiative, never in my wildest thoughts considering it would be the last time. It was only about a week later when he was stricken with COVID-19 and admitted to the hospital. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Bob, with family members often by his side, fought gallantly to recover.
Tragically, despite weeks later showing some improvement that offered a glimmer of hope, he succumbed on Dec. 7 at age 61. The outpouring of sorrow, respect and fondness for Bob among security industry friends and colleagues was swift and emotional.
It came as a devastating blow to me and I can’t begin to imagine the impact of his loss to wife Marilou and their two children, to whom my heart goes out. Although I grew up without a brother, I feel like I lost one in Bob.
Bob Harris gave so much of himself imparting wisdom to the industry and its installation and monitoring companies. Let us never forget the man, his contributions and his zest for life. In his memory, let us also remain resolute to stop this abominable pandemic.
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