Aronson Security Group (ASG) has achieved 30 percent year-on-year growth for the past decade and has made that growth by being somewhat different. “Our major growth in our company began in 2002-3,” says Phil Aronson, CEO of the Renton, Wash.-based company.
He says the industry was fragmented from the vendor, integrator and consulting perspective; and that security was entering the information management age and a new level of service and collaboration needed to be articulated and advanced. “From that time onward, we committed to advancing the idea that our profession was made up of a number of professional disciplines that could be organized around a formal methodology to create value,” Aronson says. “Our growth was a direct result of the pent-up demand for this in the market.”
The path they followed — called the ASG Path to Value — was different than most companies take. “We are not an integrator,” emphasizes Nigel Waterton, ASG’s vice president of corporate strategy and development. “We are a solutions provider, helping our clients reduce risk. At the end of the day, we are a trusted partner.”
Integration, he explains, is one function of several that ASG performs in the middle of its customer service process.
“We do integrate,” he concedes. “But that is just one of many steps that deliver a complete security program.”
ASG provides end-to-end services that drive value and mitigate risk through technology solutions and professional services — which is a far cry from the company mission when it started 50 years ago. Back in 1963, Conrad Aronson opened the C. Connie Aronson Company to sell and install locks in Washington and Alaska. In the beginning, Aronson and his wife Betty worked out of their home.
As the company grew, they moved the business to a small office near the Space Needle in Seattle and hired three associates. In 1969, they moved to Renton, and in 1990, they sold the business to their two sons — Phil, and Paul, who is vice president.
For the first 35 years of its existence, ASG was a 30-person lock and door hardware business. There was no electronics involved. But ASG built a record of trusted relationships with its customers. In 1999-2000, they decided to leap forward. “We were always customer centric,” Phil Aronson says. “We developed long-term relationships based on trust that allowed us to be an advisor to our clients.”
Designing for the Future
Aronson and Waterton met in early 2001 at a security event. Aronson liked Waterton’s experience and his deep and wide perspective covering roles in both guard force management and electronic security. “We wanted to design the business for the future,” Waterton recalls.
They saw that future in electronic systems and started off with the usual access control and video camera installations; yet, Waterton is quick to caution that their business is not just about product. “Product is the outcome,” he says, “of our effort to design and engineer best-of-class platforms for our client’s business.”
He calls product “tonnage” and notes that they do not want to sell “stuff” but solutions. The ASG Path to Value started as a workflow system but became the company’s core methodology. “We have a Global Security Network of consulting and integration partners that help us provision solutions worldwide,” Aronson says.
In fact, they are happy to maintain relationships with multiple risk consultancies, four access control partners, multiple VMS partners and several camera partners. “Looking at all those vendors, the combination of solution outcomes is in the hundreds,” Waterton says.
This agnostic approach lets them be a true consultant and partner to their customers. That is topped by their test facility that allows them to review equipment and be sure it is what the client requires. “You have to stand in the customer’s shoes — not just for a while, but have constant conversations with every member of the client firm from the CSO and CIO to the security managers and users, Waterton explains. “We are able to help managers define value.”