EMERgency24 Places Urgency on Employees and Customers as Well as Signals
A sit-down with the central station’s leadership and tour of its facility makes clear the company’s commitment to prioritizing both people and technology in the mission for superior security and safety.
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A few months back one of the electronic security industry’s longest established and most respected third-party wholesale monitoring providers, EMERgency24, announced a changing of the guard.
In November, Steve Mayer was named vice president of operations and administration, taking on the leadership role that had been held by Senior Vice President Patrick Devereaux, who had spent more than 27 years with the company.
Founded in 1967, EMERgency24 has been a leader among central stations by streamlining the monitoring process. Dante Monteverde, the company’s founder, patented tape dialers and developed the first computerized monitoring system. So impactful was his influence that he was inducted into the initial SSI Industry Hall of Fame class in 2004.
EMERgency24 remains ahead of the industry’s technological curve by staffing in-house programming expertise that allows responding to almost any dealer need. The company is also able to monitor more than 15,000 panel models. In addition to its Des Plaines, Ill., headquarters, the firm operates branches in Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Washington D.C.
In Mayer, EMERgency24 has brought on someone new to the security industry but who brings strengths in finance and operations. To get better acquainted and find out how Mayer is settling into his new position, and learn more about the latest developments at EMERgency24, Security Sales & Integration visited the central station’s headquarters for a fruitful discussion and tour of the state-of-the-art facility (see the accompanying slideshow).
Joining the enthusiastic Mayer for the proceedings was Kevin Lehan, a former SSI columnist and longtime executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association who was recently promoted to EMERgency24’s national sales and marketing manager.
Steve, how are you settling in some five months after assuming your new role? What’s been a surprise and what’s been a challenge so far.
Steve Mayer: I’m still drinking from the firehose, learning a lot about the industry and getting to know the company more and more, but it’s been great. This is a phenomenal company, with really tremendous people. The fact that there’s many people who’ve been with this company for so long, for decades, 20, 30, 40 years, to me, is a great indicator that EMERgency24 treats its people well.
My rule is you treat people well, and they’re going to treat your customers well. I’ve just been kind of taking in a lot of the industry. In terms of what surprised me, for the good, I wasn’t aware of the level of complexity of the technology and how cutting edge we can be and are. So that was pretty cool. I’m pretty new to learning the dynamics and various players, what’s going on both in terms of disruptive organizations and disruptive technologies, but also the consolidation and the changing of the guards, if you will, within the industry. It’s a really dynamic market, which is fascinating.
What steps have you taken to get to know EMERgency24’s customers?
Mayer: A handful of things, like meeting with some of our top dealers, one on one, or we’ll bring Kevin [Lehan], Dante [Monteverde] Jr. as well as Baird [Larson], our director of technology, just to introduce myself, get to know them, understand what their needs are and where they’re going. That’s one. Two is outreach for phone calls and then just listening in to our operations.
I spent the first couple weeks learning to be an operator. I’m still going through the training just to understand the experience from the operator’s perspective and also to listen in. What are our customers and our customers’ customers experiencing? How do we make sure that we’re delivering exactly what they need?
How would you say your background helped prepare you for what you’re going to do here now?
Mayer: My background is in finance and operations, which is often intertwined with technology. That background from United Airlines, where we had a massive datacenter with technology on the planes and technology on the ground, but really the face of it was the people. I think this is a really similar experience. Actually, my entire career has been in the service industry.
It’s really about providing a top-notch experience for our customers. There’s technology that’s behind that. If that technology is not working, then we’re not able to provide what our customers need, and this situation is the same. Throughout my career, whether it was at United or Bally Fitness or in higher-ed, it all applies. A lot of it is processed as how do we get better? How do we take a continuous-improvement mentality about business and process and customer service? How do we get better and better and better?
Can you highlight two or three things that are new in the EMERgency24 business that you’re excited about?
Kevin Lehan: We’ve developed an active-shooter solution, software as a service. We’ve broken up that active-shooter, software-as-a-solution into different components. One is being two-way text messaging so that we’re now able to send a text message to a subscriber or a party, indicating a noncritical signal, such as low battery, auto test and that type of information. Another component, we call command and communication services.
With visual point identification, there is an interactive, dynamic floor plan that, when there has been an alarm activation, shows where it took place, so you can visually see. We also map out all the cameras in the floor plan so that first responders, maintenance or whoever needs to access that information can say, “Here’s the epicenter. I have a nearby camera. I’m going to click that. I’m going to see what’s happening live.”
That’s going to help me triage the situation, or as a first responder I’m going to know what I’m walking into, as well as the incident commanders. They can give an eye-in-the-sky instruction to first responders going through the building, looking for whether it’s a bad guy or people who may be injured. Another development that we’re going to start really pushing is a gateway service, which is a proprietary software that we’ve written in-house. It allows building operators to control access control, lighting and anything that can be addressed with a web sensor. We built this gateway so that it’s kind of like a building automation system.
Mayer: Via web relay, it can have remote premise control. We think there’s a lot of folks out there who would be able to use this, whether it be in combination with some sort of incident command control solution or just on their own, so they can have remote access and remote control into locking down a building or changing directions of cameras or angles and all of that.
Lehan: You could have a predefined series of tasks, like access control, soft lockdown, hard lockdown or other types of incidents, like weather. We want to put this type of signage up. We want to say that there’s a tornado coming or whatever it might be. It’s something that’s unique that’s going to give our dealers something else that they can monetize. They can provide this service to schools, hospitals and any type of facility. It’s another way that they can make more money. That’s what EMERgency24 has done for decades, develop new services that our dealers can take out into the market and monetize, to make more money for themselves.
What would you say, aside from that, are a couple of the leading opportunities in the monitoring industry right now?
Mayer: Video is a huge. There’s a growing demand. With the DIY introductions of video, that’s definitely having an influence on the rest of us who are doing all the third-party monitoring. We’re seeing a need and a demand out there for that. Ultimately, there will be some further standardization. There are opportunities for us to step in and make sure we have the ability to work along with others who are moving toward this standard. Our proprietary software and engineer team, we have the ability to quickly address things like that.
Lehan: I think just the prevalence of security. Every time Ring or any of the other DIYs advertise, great. You’re putting the security bug in someone’s ear. Good for you. You have an apartment in the city. You have a roommate. You guys want to do self-monitoring. That’s great. Maybe, when you move out to the suburbs and you have a few more assets, they don’t want to do this. You don’t want to get every clip of your dog walking around because those are lower-end systems.
They’ll graduate up to a real, professionally installed, professionally monitored system. The young folks are going to do their own thing. Traditionally, the people who have an alarm system are those who have more to protect. It just plants that seed. There will always be a need for commercial fire, obviously, but there’s always going to be a need for a certain level of residential alarm systems too.
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