After 31 years in the chain restaurant industry, Ron Poulin, president of Daytona Broadband (DBB) of South Daytona, Fla., realized that he had a brighter future in security systems integration than in plugging along with the chain. However, it quickly became obvious that the one complemented the other.
Since 2006, Poulin has served up an unusual but profitable business model that benefits both his customers and his business.
About 20 years into his career, along with being operations manager for the multi-unit Dow Sherwood Corp., a restaurant management company based in Tampa, Poulin took over duties as Dow Sherwood’s IT director, tasked with managing IT operations across the company’s two franchise concepts. He began to install and test IP camera systems in the company’s restaurants. “I used various brands to find out first-hand what worked well and what did not,” he says.
That initiated one of his basic business philosophies, to try things out, live. When the restaurant company sold his division, he set out to fulfill his dream of starting a business of his own focused on IP video systems and point of sale (POS) systems. “I had gained strong experience in POS as the IT director,” he says.
It clicked. In fact, the original franchise restaurant company remains one of DBB’s video security customers to this day.
“After starting the business, I quickly learned that not all potential clients were ready for the IP video security world,” Poulin says. “So, unlike many or most other integrators, I went from offering only IP systems to offering both IP and analog systems,” he says. “Generally speaking, integrators offering analog systems have to learn and migrate to IP, sometimes kicking and screaming!”
Make the Move to IP
IP systems are here to stay, and analog systems are becoming less relevant, Poulin notes. “The price gap between value IP systems and analog systems has closed dramatically, even within the last few months,” he explains. “Some of the newer IP systems are more plug-and-play and much easier to get online and commission than they once were.
“Make the move to IP,” Poulin says. “There is not that much to learn and you will have happier customers.” He notes the difference in resolution is astounding, and customers will appreciate usable archived video when they need it.
“Choose a system where you will transport video on your own, separate network and only use the customer network for remote viewing,” he adds. “Also, become friends with your customer’s IT manager — you need buy-in from the IT department. Help them understand that you will not clog their network with video traffic. Once you have their confidence and they understand what you are doing, things will go much smoother. You need the IT manager to become your friend.”
Other times, as an integrator, Poulin finds himself as the go-between and peacemaker between security managers and IT managers who do not always share the same visions. Other organizations outsource their IT operations. “A good relationship with an independent IT consultant can often lead to video referrals for you,” he says.
There is much more to DBB than just IP video security, of course. “Ever since starting the business, I considered my company a business technology contractor,” Poulin says.
Knowing that startup businesses often struggle with the many technology choices they must make, he decided to offer a complete technology solution. “Many new business owners have great experience in their own field or product, but are intimidated even by the routine technology every business needs,” he says. “A business owner can hire me to provide or manage all technologies including video, POS, burglar alarms, Internet service, public Wi-Fi, telephone…you name it.”