Introducing the SSI Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Imbued with equal measures of integrity, ambition, innovation, humility and selflessness, another diverse and distinguished group of individuals are presented with one of the industry’s most prestigious honors.
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MAURICE COLEMAN | DECEASED; FOUNDER, ALARM DEVICE MANUFACTURING CO. (ADEMCO)
Why He’s Being Inducted
- A founding father of today’s alarm and security industry, he began ADEMCO in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1929
- Grew security business from a small sideline to his Progress Electric Co. electricalsupply firm that in 1932 had only 10 people to a major manufacturer and distributor in 1996 with 3,000 people worldwide
- In the late 1930s, he advanced $10,000 to a relay manufacturing company to build burglar alarm panels according to ADEMCO’s specifications; the ADEMCO No. 100 and No. 110 panels soon became industry standards
- With a keen business sense and dedication to customer service, he gave the company a competitive edge that resulted in ADEMCO becoming the industry’s most trusted, recognized and respected name
- That business, through acquisition in 1999, went on to become the foundation of Honeywell’s security business
- Continued to work at ADEMCO until his 1996 death at age 92
Bio: Maurice Coleman
- Born in New York in 1904
- Married for 61 years to wife Ruth
- Had three daughters and, as of 1996, nine grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren
- In the 1930s, he brought products to the security trade at a time when many installers handled service calls by public transportation and often when they needed merchandise in a hurry, sent their wives by train or bus to pick it up
- As ADEMCO grew bigger and bigger, he maintained complete command of what was happening and what was necessary to make the business tick
- Served as chairman of ADEMCO’s executive committee at age 76
Keys to Success
In an address to the Metropolitan Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (MBFAA) of New York in 1981, Coleman said: “When asked, as I so often am, the secret of our success, I answer that I believe much of it is due to listening to our customers. Rather than the emphasis being on talking, our emphasis was always on listening. I heard what my customers needed, what the problems were with the existing items, and attempted to develop or modify items according to these needs and suggestions.”
Open to Opportunity
One day he happened to buy some surplus wire from the war years in very large spools. After cutting the wire and packaging it into smaller spools, he found that burglar alarm installers were his best customers.
He began selling installers other items like alarm contacts and relays. By 1932, he was manufacturing these items. With his wholesale electrical business to sustain him, Coleman was able to successfully compete with those in alarm manufacturing and soon became one of the major suppliers of alarm contacts and relays.
“If one really tracks the history, we would find Mr. Coleman was not just a builder of alarm products – he was much, much more. He was a real pioneer in our industry charting an uncharted course and I believe everyone in our industry is in a more positive position because of his lifelong contributions.
He didn’t just make a widget, a component, a part, a contact, a control or a bell. He wasn’t just a component builder or innovator. He developed a complete line of related products, a family of products if you like, distributed them and even established training programs both in house and field.” – SSI Industry Hall of Famer Ralph Sevinor
Those who knew and worked with him say Coleman was ADEMCO’s conscience, and devoted himself to making things better. No one ever resented him when he pointed out a mistake.
He had a wonderfully nice way about him when he explained what you had done wrong, like a kindly teacher trying to help you along to do a better job. His employees had a tremendous amount of respect for him and the job that he did, as well as genuine affection for his warm personality.
Reflecting on Accomplishments
In his address to MBFAA, Coleman added: “Success is always gratifying. However, I am sorry to state that the success we had in business was in a large part due to enormous increases in the amount of crime and violence in society. Despite this, however, there is a feeling of satisfaction to be gained in knowing that our products do help to protect life and property.”
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