Sometimes In Business, It Takes Two

Like any good marriage, when two security companies work well together the sum can become greater that the parts.
Such is the case when Urban Alarm (a division of SaiComm LLC) and Right-One Security team up on security contracts. Located in the Washington, D.C. area-Urban Alarm within the District and Right-One in Rockville, Md.-the companies work together and pass projects back and forth, enabling each operation to stay successful in today's demanding environment.
One good example of their ability to work together to craft a solution that works for a customer is the job they completed in July at a waterfront rowing club on the Potomac River.

"It was great to have a group of people in the same ballpark, with the same mindset working on the project," said George Kirschbaum, chairperson of the security committee for the Potomac Boat Club. The club was having issues with break-ins and theft. The solution they decided on allows security committee members to see camera views remotely, either on a computer or cell phone and to be able to respond appropriately.

"This is a good deterrent to people who might have ideas or who slipped into the house earlier," Kirschbaum said. "They are learning that is no longer an option." Having the synergy of two local companies assured the club of a good solution.

Customers come first

"Our customers tend to value working with a local business that is engaged in the community," said Miles Fawcett, president of Urban Alarm. "Such companies can be difficult to find," he added.

"It is nice to have found a company with the same philosophy," echoed Rick Karas, president of Right-One Security. "Urban is also a local company and Miles's philosophy is very much like my own. We decided that it would be better for each of our companies to stay focused on what we did best and to refer to each other those projects which the other was better capable of handling and had greater expertise in."

Right-One handles an 80/20 mix of government and commercial jobs. However, the projects with Urban Alarm are mainly commercial.

And while Urban Alarm does not provide locksmith services, they do frequent offices and businesses daily that require those sophisticated services. "In the past we have not addressed those requirements at all," Fawcett said. "Now we are able to provide a direct referral to Right-One."

It is the classic win-win-win for Right-One, Urban Alarm and the customer, as the two continue their cross-branding and mutually beneficial business arrangement.

Both firms like to use technology to their advantage. Cell phones, which allow photography, SMS messaging and e-mail correspondence, are a big part of that. "As soon as we feel that we have the information we need, we immediately contact each other," Karas said. The thorough analysis by one party often saves the other a walk out to the job site since the other has already been there. "This gives us a great advantage in saving time," added Karas. "We can immediately start on the project and usually save about one day's time."

Project details

A good example of the synergy of the two companies in action is the project at the Potomac Boat Club.

The club had cameras but those only showed what had occurred. "We went in and identified a range of issues that could be addressed through electronic security measures," Fawcett explained. In consultation with Right-One, they identified issues that could be addressed with mechanical security measures.

The Club is a volunteer organization with no time to waste and no full-time guard. The members really felt the value of having a single team working for them towards a comprehensive solution.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of the electronic systems Urban Alarm installed (e.g., card access) were reinforced by those installed by Right-One (e.g., latch guards and gate locks).

During regular hours, club members are required to input their personal codes to gain access to club, as well as to various areas of the club. The club's board of governors emphasized that the redundant code requirement will record the activity of those with a legitimate purpose for being in the club (including senior members, competitive members and contractors). It also provides the club and D.C. law enforcement another tool to use when sorting potential criminal actors from legitimate users, if a security issue does arise.

Urban Alarm provided four Brivo Edge Access Controllers and four XceedID XF2110 Keypad Readers along with an AES-IntelliNet radio, a DMP XR500 security alarm panel and 12 ACTi TCM-1231 IP cameras-all coordinated by Exacq Technologies' Video Management System (VMS). Other devices to support the system came from Bosch Security Systems, NetGear and Altronix.

Right-One used Hess electric strikes and magnetic latch protectors for most of the doors. The building had various locks from years past that presented challenges, Karas referenced. In addition, there were physical barriers like door locks that needed to be fixed. That's when Urban Alarm brought in Right-One.

"We made sure that all the doors swung properly, that the proper hinges were in place and the latches in the locks had a deadlatch," said Karas. They made sure that the deadlatch mechanism was engaged on all of the locks and that there was not a bind on any of the electric strikes.

This is a good example of a case where a comprehensive solution was required and worked. "This added value to the customer and to the overall project," Fawcett said. "When securing a space that is frequently accessible to the public, the balance between access and security is subtle. By working together, we were able to parse those subtleties and think through a complete solution."

Fawcett also confirmed his love for the project, noting that the club property is on the National Historic Registry. It was built in 1908 and has a rich history. Kirschbaum noted that, although a historic building, the structure lent itself to proper pulling of cables and wiring.

"In itself, the building is a Washington, D.C. treasure," Fawcett added. "The opportunity to participate in its security and preservation is wonderful."

And while Urban Alarm monitors the alarm system, notifying security committee members if there is a reason to respond, Right-One's Karas noted one 'do-over' he would have made on the project: "The club is located on the river and I forgot my fishing pole!"

Partnership lives strong

Both Fawcett and Karas agree that, without one another, each would be looking for a like-minded partner that could address their customers' needs.

"The association with Miles and Urban Alarm has opened up more opportunities for Right-One because of the referrals from Miles for locksmithing services and, in this economy, you can never have too many referrals," Karas said. "It is a great relief to know that when Right-One gets a call from a client-if I determine there will be an alarm aspect to the security solution-I have a reliable contact in Miles of Urban that I can go to and they will participate in that part of the solution," he added.
"We have seen significant growth as the result of our partnership," Fawcett confirmed. "More importantly, customers are very happy with the added service and attention to their needs. There is tremendous value in working through the strategy together."

Both agree that the key to their business partnership is constant communication. "We have a sense of Rick's business and he knows the electronic security business well," Fawcett pointed out. "The most important part is to communicate and anticipate each other's needs. When I am on a site and plan to get Rick involved I take pictures on my phone and e-mail them over along with notes on the scope. The more we can communicate with each other as the project is progressing the better the outcome. Phones and the Internet are a great way to do that," he concluded.

How It All Began

Right-One began in 1998 with Rick Karas, his old pickup truck and his Dad's electrician's tools. He started out in the locksmithing trade at age 15. "My first job in the industry was cleaning a security company's warehouse on weekends," he said. After a year, he was running the shop by himself as a "one man lock shop" on weekends. "I learned to work on safe locks, car locks, home security systems, re-keying-every day brought a different task," confirmed Karas.

After high school, he briefly studied aviation maintenance but soon returned to locksmithing when he received a job offer from the U.S. government. "My 11 years in government introduced me to containers, high security systems, industrial safes, vaults, algebraic systems-everything our government uses to protect its employees, assets and property," said Karas.

While Right-One did focus on electronics for some time, about four years ago Karas decided he wanted to get back to his roots in locksmithing, especially high-security lock services. "I wanted a company that could take care of my client list," he said.

He made a few calls to companies he knew but nothing worked. Then he cold-called Miles Fawcett and something clicked. They talked for an hour on the phone and followed up over coffee. "What really drew me to Urban Alarm is that Miles knows the customer comes first," Karas said. "He takes care of the customer."

There are a lot of similarities between the two companies, both men agree. "It's almost like looking in a mirror if my company did electronics," Karas said.

Curt Harler is a freelance writer and regular contributor to SD&I magazine. He can be reached at