Security Execs Share How They Tackle Recruiting Challenges, New Opportunities

A dearth of capable and congenial employees and resultant inflated wages is inspiring security integrators to refocus recruiting tactics. Find out how they are contending with that and other challenges, as well as plum opportunities in SSI’s annual exec roundtable.

Security Execs Share How They Tackle Recruiting Challenges, New Opportunities

Shown here are (l-r) Eva Mach, president/CEO of Pro-Tec Design; Trevor Stewart, president of Security Control Integrators; Michael Ruddo, chief strategy officer of IST; and Skip Sampson, president of KST Security.

Let’s get into technologies you’re finding success with and niche markets you see as a sweet spot and why.

RUDDO: Being from the D.C. region, the federal space has been changing for the past 15 years. The whole concept of authentication, PIV credentials, HSPD-12, all of that is really just now starting to come to fruition. It was easy to say everybody has to have a card, it has to look like this, has to have their picture, has to have their information.

But as far as how that transitions to an access control system, nobody thought that all the way through. The industry has really struggled. Now it’s up to the government to put its money where its mouth is and start spending to get to that single credential. Federal is probably 50%-60% of our business so that’s a big deal for us.

I really think the hosted, managed Cloud stuff is coming hot and heavy. It’s going to continue to take a while to become commonplace, but when you see companies putting their email in the Cloud, their financial systems in some cases in the Cloud, when everything starts going that way from a business perspective, the next logical thing is security.

Nobody wants to house a bunch of servers to run all their security. The general acceptance of just because that box isn’t under my roof doesn’t mean it’s not secure was a huge hurdle. Just because it’s in the Cloud doesn’t mean it’s less secure. In some cases, it’s actually more secure.

SAMPSON: We’re pushing our business to the professional services side of it. We really view the marketplace and the devices we’re selling to be more commoditized every day. The price our people are demanding now, we need to demand higher prices. One way to do that is professional services. We have put a program together for system optimization for our big access control users.

We have preventive maintenance agreements for our video users. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the documentation forms and the background things you need in place to do that type of job. It’s proving to be well worth the effort. We all need to push our current RMR number from whatever it is now to 30% or 40% of our revenue because as we grow as companies, that number just gets bigger every year.

It can’t all come from projects, because you don’t have that backlog of projects. If you have it under contract, and you know you’re going to start the year with 40% of your revenue already guaranteed, it gives us integrators great comfort.

MACH: We are doing exactly the same thing. I remember a conversation with some of our technicians about Cloud four years ago and they looked at me like I was crazy. Who would want to do that? I think its time has come. You’re not going to flip 100%, but the time has come.

Then there’s mobile credentials, everybody carries a smartphone and with that there comes a lot more demands for being able to manage, view and do everything on a mobile device, so we have to react to that. That’s an opportunity, and we are pushing very hard into that space. We work in healthcare as one of our big verticals. Finally there’s managed services and maintenance agreements. The commoditization of the hardware is happening. We work on services specific to our verticals. We’re doing what we call health checks for customers to help them identify gaps.

Some of the equipment is getting five years old. There’s a big conversation about security patches, and it’s not always been adhered to in our industry. That’s one of the things we are making a big push on, to make sure everybody is as secure as they can be. Cybersecurity is a big initiative for our company. It means RMR.

STEWART: We’re doing a lot of the same things. I’d say a big focus is on cybersecurity. We hired somebody from outside the industry to do penetration tests for us, look at cameras and VMS, and really control what we put out there, what our names are on. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of a news story. We’ve done some things with mobile credentials.

To me, when we talk about technology advantages it goes down to one big thing: partnerships. We create partnerships with our customers. We have programs where if we have a maintenance contract with you then yes, we’re looking at your hardware. We’re trying to switch it out as opposed to repairing something.

So that piece of it becomes a tipping point. You partner with them and look out for their best interests. That takes the commoditization of the products out of the equation. We have to be honest with our customers.

MACH: When we talk about services, it’s also understanding their business and servicing that partnership. We do a lot of work in K-12 schools. Some of it is understanding the policies they have and understanding the training they have to go through on their side, and how we fit into it to make sure we’re true partners in that endeavor.

RUDDO: It’s not only having the program and technical expertise, you’ve got to always be looking down the road at new technologies and educating those clients on why it’s a good thing, why it’s going to help their business run smoother, more efficiently. If you can play that role, you’re there for life.

About the Author

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Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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