The Ahhhhh Factor

Yes, Virginia, security is different when you serve the wealthy

"That is our business model," Broyard said. "Knowing what to integrate with which panel made a huge difference. We can work with the A/V company and the builders like that. It makes life easier for the builder-we are easy to work with."

Todd is a graduate of the University of Vermont. His wife, Michele, assists with day-to-day operations. He started in the alarm business 22 years ago in Hartford, Conn., working with Doug Curtiss at Sonitrol Communications Corp. "It was a great operation and I got great training," Broyard recalled. He moved to the Boston area, working with Curtis Anderson, president of Sonitrol for a year.

In October 1994, he decided to go into business on his own. However, he had no network with the upper crust. "I had nobody to tap," he said. So, he went to the building departments in the upper-end Boston suburbs and looked to see who had pulled building permits. He cold-called job sites and got some work. Eventually, an electrical contractor he knew introduced him to a top-end contractor. He followed through with premium work execution and was in a good position to talk to other premier builders.

"Word spread that we had a good group of technicians," Broyard said. Now, they are one of a couple companies that work on the $20 million to $40 million single-family home jobs and Black Lab Alarm is loving every minute of it.

Breaking Into Big Numbers

As in any business, in the upper-end market "who you know" might be as important as "what you know." In this market, alarm dealers have a lot to gain by partnering with the right A/V integrators.

"There is a small pool of qualified alarm dealers who perform the level of work required to succeed in the high-end residential market," Todd Broyard said.

He would find partners by looking for open-minded contractors working in the large homes in affluent neighborhoods.

"Too many alarm contractors are reluctant to use any panel other than the one they usually install," he said.
"Network with high-end builders, architects and interior designers," he added. "Look at the company's history. Get references from custom builders and clients."