Bay Alarm’s Roger and Bruce Westphal Inducted Into SSI Industry Hall of Fame

The Westphal brothers are the second generation to lead the company, with the third coming up behind them.

Why They Are on the List

  • Grew up in the industry as the second generation of family-run Bay Alarm Co., each spending more than a half-century building and leading the business to its present status as one of the largest and best-run independent firms
  • Ensured company and family legacy by executing long-term perspective to the industry and multigenerational succession planning; widely admired for their business practices, integrity and ambition
  • Created merit-driven company culture that supports and recognizes individual accomplishments and team results, and allows those without industry knowledge to learn what it takes to have professional and corporate success
  • In the 1970s, company was part of user group that developed software specification for the industry’s first fully automated central station monitoring computer program
  • Early commitment to recurring monthly revenue model instrumental in building today’s estimated $9 million RMR
  • Founded East Bay Alarm Association, held leadership roles in California Alarm Association and Central Station Alarm Association, and co-founded Security Network of America, an organization for shareholders to share best practices

Keys to Success
“One of the challenges to our success has been figuring out how to run a branch organization. We had to develop reporting systems, software for accounting, management protocols. This all took time and is dynamic. Today, we operate 14 branch offices throughout California. More than 20 years ago, we established an advisory board made up of business leaders outside our industry. It has acted similarly to a board of directors and has provided forward-thinking advice and direction.” – Roger
“Success is attributed to having a clear focus, waking up after many sleepless nights and working to solve problems. This means sticking to basic principles, working hard, working smart and good tracking of progress. More importantly, it’s having a management style that allows co-workers to lead and prosper, and make decisions at the lowest level with full confidence they are in charge of both their responsibilities and their future.” – Bruce

THE WESTPHAL FILE

  • Both born in Los Angeles, Bruce in 1940, Roger in 1942
  • Two of three brothers and one sister, father Everett Westphal began in alarm business in 1937 and founded Bay Alarm in 1946
  • Both married, Bruce with four children and 11 grandchildren, Roger with two and four
  • Sons Matt and Graham (Bruce’s) are co-presidents of Bay Alarm and Tim (Roger’s) is executive vice president
  • Both are Harvard educated in business management and served in U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
  • Both are recipients of California Alarm Association’s George A. Weinstock Award
  • Other interests include golf, cars and boats (Roger), and travel, wood and steel sculpture, backpacking, boating and “fixing stuff” (Bruce)

Westphals Stand Tall in Alarm Biz
“My father, Everett Westphal, began Bay Alarm Co. operations in the garage of our home. I have memories of being 8-10 years old and playing around with batteries, bells and lights, all alarm components at the time, hooking things up to see if I could make them work. During the summer I worked for the company as an installer. It was a really big deal to turn 16, get my driver’s license and drive a company truck on a battery change route, and also doing maintenance service calls. Bruce and I grew up in the business and were destined to operate it ourselves, and hopefully see the next generation of our family run the company.” – Roger

Legacy Built One Account at a Time
“In the early days it was slow, one account after another, selling systems one by one – a few times having the installer team wait around the corner because I was sure I could sell a system and they then had work to do. We fought over clients and slept in the shop so we could have true 24-7 service. We answered the phone in one ring; it was four feet from my pillow!” – Bruce

“During the late 1960s, we became dissatisfied with equipment offered by our suppliers, so we proceeded to design and manufacture our own under the label Alarm Equipment Co., or ALECO. We built and sold to the trade, including McCulloh transmitters using a totally new printed circuit code wheel that was revolutionary for the time, McCulloh central station receiving equipment, LED photocells and a device called the Safer that provided a partial UL Listing for safes.” – Roger

Adventures With Meals and Wheels
“One idea I heard from Denver Burglar alarm, long ago. They did a lunch every three months or so, and it seemed like a good idea. We began hosting our own lunchtime seminars about alarm systems every Tuesday and alternate Thursdays. Anywhere from three to 30 people would attend, and this went on for several years. We never had a slow sales period while others always did. Any extra food was always consumed by our central station. Another memory that stands out was how we improvised on the way to a bid opportunity. On an intuitive hunch, we changed the pricing by about 2%. We won by .5% on the largest job we had ever done. We then had the client for 35 years.” – Bruce

Carrying the Industry Torch Forward
“I have great faith in the alarm industry. It has a great future for those who believe in it and can keep ahead of the curve.” – Roger

“There are always new ideas, new companies, new challenges, but overall I can’t imagine too many better chances to take.” – Bruce

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