Strong Partners Add Muscle to the Business

While there still is some gloom-and-doom heard on the streets, in the real world of security contracting business is good. And that holds true for small and large companies alike.

Stone Security, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a perfect example of what happens when you empower your team to excellence. Although the company is not the largest and reported just under several million of gross sales in 2012, it has a unique growth path. “We have accomplished our growth by only selling IP technology and by partnering with industry leaders in surveillance and access control,” said Brent Edmunds, owner and sales director.

When the company started operations in 2006, they were without a single customer. “We didn’t break off from another company or have a lot experience in security integration,” Edmunds explained. “We started with a clean slate.”

“The growth happened as we built relationships and won clients, not by winning projects,” he said. He emphasized that Stone Security makes a strong distinction between working clients and working projects.

“We do our best to take care of our customers and partners and the growth seems to come as a result of that business model,” Edmunds said.

 

Managing ongoing growth

“Our biggest challenge is finding the right people to help us progress in a way that allows us to maintain our identity while managing fast-paced growth,” Edmunds said.

“People are the most important part of any business and we have to have the right people to get the job done the way we want,” he added.

In the past year, Stone Security has added four full-time employees to what was a base of seven. “That nearly doubled the size of our business,” Edmunds said. He projects sales to continue to rise in 2013, in excess of 50 percent.

“We will probably add three more key full-time employees before the end of 2013,” he said.

Steve Edmunds, Brent’s father, got his start in the security industry in 2005 when he established a residential security company. He had just retired from nearly 30 years as a pilot for Delta Airlines and working as a flight instructor.

Steve decided to start a small residential security business with the help of Brent’s brother Joey and their brother-in-law, Aaron Heiner. Later Chris Heaps, another brother-in-law, joined the firm.

“That was where our family’s exposure to the security industry began,” Brent Edmunds said. But it wasn’t until a year later, in 2006, that he left his employment as a Special Agent for the U.S. Secret Service to move home and join the new family business. While the residential business was struggling, Brent and Aaron were drawn to the commercial, integration side of the industry and decided to branch out.

That’s when Stone Security, a commercial security integration company focused entirely on IP surveillance, was truly born.

The company’s focus on IP technology was a result of the abilities of the people involved with the company at the time.

“Aaron had a strong technical skill set and others involved with the new business had a lot of IT experience,” Edmunds said. “As we looked at the marketplace, and realized we had no attachment to old technology or habits, we made a calculated decision to cut our teeth on the latest technology.”

As a result, they signed up as an Axis Partner and soon after that as a Milestone Partner. “We never looked back,” Edmunds said.

Stone Security was the Gold Partner of the Year in 2011 for Axis Communications and earned Milestone’s Installation Partner of the Year in 2010.

Current clients include four of the state’s five major universities; Utah Transit Authority; Autoliv; the cities of Provo, Logan and Kaysville; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

 

Technology partners valued

Call it beginners luck or good instincts; however it happened, Stone Security’s strong relationships with partners proved to be the glue that would help build a successful firm.

“Whether as a result of naveté, or lack of understanding about the way the security industry is supposed to work, or simply our own personality traits—we thought becoming a “Partner” meant something,” Edmunds said.

It didn’t take these manufacturers and others very long to realize that Stone Security was different in that regard.

“We’ve thought a lot about changing our ‘partnering’ mindset and adding new product lines to our repertoire,” he said. But it did not feel right.

“We kept deciding that wasn’t the way we wanted to do business. We continued to build strong, loyal partnerships with what we determined to be the best products in the world for IP security,” he said. “We feel like this has been one of the keys to our success.”

That is not to say anyone at Stone Security thinks they have found all the answers.

“We anticipate continued strong growth and hope to knock the rough edges off of our business model,” Edmunds said. “We hope to continue to meet the high expectations of our great clients and partners in the process. We think we have the right people to do it.”

Aaron Heiner (co-owner) would love to see intrusion detection manufacturers be a bit quicker to adapt to network-based security systems. “We think DMP does a better job than anyone else out there,” he said. “However, there is still room for improvement to make them truly reside on the network.”

On the other hand, he gives kudos to recent advancements that made a difference is the ability to surpass the 100-meter limitation of network cable.

“The development by Veracity and other similar manufacturers to extend the distance (PoE) has removed a major road block,” Heiner said. He pointed to one of their clients who anticipates that he will be able to save over $200,000 on a project by using Veracity’s devices instead of undergoing major network infrastructure expansions.

The group looks in-house for improvement, too. Down the road, Edmunds said they imagine Stone Security will have much stronger offerings for the small business/residential market.

“For example, we see hosted/cloud surveillance and other recurring-revenue business opportunities as a bright spot for the future,” he said.

 

Curt Harler is a regular contributor to SD&I magazine; he can be reached at curt@curtharler.com.

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