25 Years: Events that defined the Industry

It all started with pages littering a bedroom, a couple thousand dollars and a need for a publication to serve alarm installers and dealers more than manufacturers. It became Security Sales & Integration.

With a battle cry of “for the pros by the pros,” the first issue of AID – Alarm Installer & Dealer went out to 10,000 contractors and integrators in November 1979. Bob Bargert, who had been editor of Security Distributing & Marketing, felt a need for a new publication that would put the dealer ahead of the advertiser. AID was born (for more on Bargert, click here).

When Bargert mentions in his first issue editorial that he put the issue “to bed,” he could have meant it literally. The first issue was put together in the bedroom of his Calabasas, Calif., home with Hal Bigman giving the magazine its initial visual look. Bargert put up $10,000 to start the magazine, while four other partners put up another $10,000 each.
Among them was George Lippert, a marketing manager with Morse Security Group, who would go on to write the “By George” monthly column until his death in 1988. Lippert was also instrumental in the growth of the Security Industry Association (SIA), whose annual award to an outstanding individual in the industry is named after him.

The magazine has had four names on its masthead during its 25 years – AID, Alarm Installer & Dealer, Security Sales and Security Sales & Integration – and had four homes in California – Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Redondo Beach and Torrance. Despite the changes, the basic core value at the heart of the magazine of informing and educating the security contractor hasn’t changed since the very first issue of AID.

Ron Davis, managing partner and founder of the Davis Marketing Group, interacted heavily with Bargert on the earliest issues of AID. Davis knows the importance of building relationships, as he was one of the innovators of alarm industry public relations while he was chairman of Security Associated Int’l (SAI) (for more on Davis, click here). He says Bargert was ahead of his time. “He was an innovator whose ideas were not always appreciated during his lifetime,” Davis says.

Some issues within the industry have remained the same – the very first issue of AID had an article on false alarms. Other issues – like incompatible equipment, lack of bundled hardware and the high expense of residential systems – have gone the way of near-extinction, like tape dialers, film surveillance cameras and analog.

SSI takes a look back at several of the events that shaped the electronic security industry and the magazine itself in its first 25 years.

Distribution Delivers Customers for Manufacturers

The advancement of technology, the integration of alarm products and the resulting reduction in cost helped make the concept of security product distribution more realistic.

Pittway Corp. gave Steve Roth (for more on Roth, click here) marching orders in 1985 to establish a distribution business for its products. The result was Ademco Distribution Inc., which later dropped the Ademco name and became known as just ADI.
ADI revolutionized distribution through its nationwide network of more than 100 branches.

Today, ADI, which joined Honeywell with the rest of Pittway in 1999, has developed into the largest distributor of electronic security products with annual sales exceeding $1 billion and has expanded beyond its Ademco roots to distribute other companies’ products.

Another pioneer in distribution was once a little-known manufacturer from Canada with a low-profit margin. DSC began to conquer the U.S. in the late 1980s by distributing its products through independent distributors – a move with little precedent at the time.
Now, more and more manufacturers are distributing through independent distributors, including NAPCO.

Mass Marketing, Technology Bring Security Home

Whether its through advertisements placed in newspapers or ads streaming through the mass media of radio and television, residents are well aware that a home security system can be a strong deterrent against potential break-ins.

While it wasn’t his invention, Peter Michel (for more on Michel, click here) set the standard for the mass marketing of electronic security systems to residential customers while he was president and CEO of Brink’s Home Security. But before mass marketing could occur, security had to become affordable.

Brink’s push to the masses provided a strong influence to the competition, including Protection One and ADT. As margins decreased, competition increased thanks to the vastly expanded market created when security became affordable for the home.

Customers, now becoming more aware of the need for alarms also became more informed, and the market became strongly driven by the consumer, rather than the supplier.

Development of Training, Standards Improves Industry
The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) pioneered national, standardized training for security installers when it established the National Training School (NTS) in 1985.

The NTS led to central station training and installer certification. In the past year, it’s increased its accessibility by offering many of its courses online.

As for standard practices for the alarm industry, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) had established signaling standards as early as 1898. However, the various standards covering fire alarms had become either repetitive or redundant.

Enter NFPA Standard 72 – the National Fire Alarm Code. Created in 1993 and revised every three years since, NFPA 72 was a consolidation of six other standards and has helped guide the fire alarm market.

For central stations, UL has become as much a symbol of quality as the Good Housekeeping Seal is for home products. Approved by Underwriters Laboratories Inc., customers can be assured that UL-Listed stations comply with minimum standards to remain operational and functional in any circumstance.

The emergence of open standards that assure interoperability between electronic products has also had a strong impact on the industry – not just for the integration of security but also for open standards that link computer and IT to physical security.

Dealers Gain Strength in Numbers Through Programs

It started out in 1974 as Photo Scan Associates Inc. and manufactured TV camera housings. But in 1980, Photo Scan started the process that resulted in today’s PSA Security Network.

That’s when Photo Scan became a cooperative of dealers sharing profits and changed its name to Professional Systems Associates (PSA) Int’l. PSA Int’l helped drive sales of CCTV, becoming the biggest buyer of CCTV equipment. At the same time, PSA members purchased stock in the cooperative and, without paying a membership fee, shared in the profits.

PSA has evolved since then into the PSA Security Network and remains the largest electronic security cooperative. It can be credited as an inspiration for the dealer programs that developed later.

When ADT acquired The Alert Centre in 1996, it inherited with it a small program designed to increase the relationship between manufacturer and dealer. ADT not only continued the program, but also expanded it throughout the company in what many consider the first major dealer program.

Since then, dealer programs have multiplied and most manufacturers have one.

Baby Bells, Utilities Try and Fail to Grab Piece of Industry Pie

The concept was simple: A one-stop shop. Not only would the “phone company” or the “electric company” give a home t
heir service, but also provide their cable television, I

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