Growth Squared: The 2014 SD&I Fast50

Note: View the full SD&I 2014 Fast50 Rankings at www.securityinfowatch.com/11319548 

It’s no wonder that mega-companies like AT&T, Comcast and others have inserted themselves into the security services market — few industries in North America can claim the type of sustained growth that ours has enjoyed for several years now. 

This year’s SD&I Fast50, honoring the fastest-growing security dealers and integrators in North America, is a testament to it. The security dealers and integrators that submitted their financials for our third-annual rankings accounted for a whopping $2.15 billion in gross revenue in 2013 alone. 

But these rankings are about growth — something security dealers and integrators are no stranger to. According to the numbers culled from SD&I’s survey, our industry has enjoyed steady year-to-year growth at around 15 percent. Surveyed companies enjoyed 14% growth in 2013 as compared to 2012, and 30% growth since 2011. That’s nearly a billion in gross revenue growth over two years. 

“Our members have seen a number of growth opportunities, and the forward-thinking companies are the ones who thrive,” says John Knox, president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA). “Regardless of size, the most successful companies will be able to provide quality products and great customer support at a competitive price. And never forget that good, old-fashioned hard work makes the difference, regardless of whether it’s a one-man company or a company of thousands.”

You will likely find quite a few of those forward-looking companies counting themselves among this year’s Fast50. By adapting to the changing technology landscape and targeting growing vertical markets, these firms are finding the path to profit. 

Nine companies in this year’s Fast50 actually doubled their revenue growth or better over 2012; and nine companies enjoyed better than 100-percent average growth over the past three-year period. More insights on our surveyed companies — including whether the companies are public or private; if they focus more on commercial or residential; if they offer monitoring services; and what they report as their fastest-growing markets — are illustrated with pie charts throughout this article.  

Beyond the raw numbers and survey data, read on to learn to what each of our Fast50 companies attribute their dynamic growth, along with advice and best practices to help your company achieve the same kind of development in our marketplace. 

 

Meet the Top Ten
Our top 10 Fast50 companies run the gamut from large to small businesses in terms of employees; however all of them balanced gross revenues and overall percentage growth over a three-year period to end up on top of the rankings. Be sure to attend our awards ceremony on the main lobby stage (right outside the show floor) at ISC West on April 2 at 4 p.m. to meet the leaders of these top 10 companies!

To give you a “deep dive” into the best practices, histories and principals of the top five Fast50 companies, each one is featured in an individual profile. Our top company is American Integrated Security Group; No. 2 is Perimeter Security Group; two-time top company Securityhunter is ranked No. 3; and two companies tied for the No. 4 ranking, Securadyne Systems and A3 Communications

The rest of our top 10 was asked the following question: What are some of the keys to your growth as a company, and what particular vertical markets have you seen the most growth in? Here’s what each one had to say:

Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions, No. 6
“We focus in on our customer’s business needs and engineer solutions that solve issues and deliver value — this is the launching point to ensuring a long-standing business partnership,” says Senior VP of Sales & Marketing Robert Gaulden. “Recent tragedies in the education market have increased awareness and demand for additional security, including physical access control, video surveillance and mass notification.”

American Defense Systems, No. 7 “ADS has continued to focus on multiple avenues to generate new customers,” explains President Curtis Kindred. “In this industry, there are too many factors that could take out just a single avenue of generating sales. We have worked with residential builders and real estate firms. In our major market of Texas, people are buying and building homes all over — this is a very significant part of our business.” 

SecureXperts Inc., No. 8 (tie) “SecureXperts has established a relationship of being a reliable partner to our customers and being a one-stop shop for meeting both their physical security and information security requirements,” explains President & CEO Darnell Washington. “The need for more effective security products and solutions continue to be in demand despite the country’s economic troubles. The vertical markets that we have found the most growth in over the past couple of years has been in the areas of healthcare, financial and industrial control technologies in the cyber-physical security market.”

Cam Connections, No. 8 (tie) “We’ve invested a lot of time and energy into process improvement since 2011 — we analyzed our pain points, and then focused on minimizing or eliminating those shortcomings,” says CEO Chris Lesnewski. “Some key improvements as a result are much better hiring practices, improved communication, highly specialized roles/training, and employee retention and satisfaction. Education and retail have been the growth markets for us. There is still much fear over random acts of violence and concern for public safety, and understandably so.”

Blue Violet Networks, No. 10 “It is important to focus on the enterprise customer who has record earnings and balance sheets,” says owner John Paul. “We deliver operational security solutions with a true ROI helping their bottom line and improving customer service.”
Adds sales executive Chad Gordon: “We have seen growth across a number of vertical markets by delivering tailored solutions that meet many departmental needs allowing for CFOs to draw from multiple budgets creating much larger projects than was previously possible.”

 

Advice for Future Fast50 Companies
So what would it take for your company to rank in the 2015 Fast50? Beyond making sure you enter by the deadline next year at www.securityinfowatch.com/sdifast50, we asked this year’s crop of companies what advice they would give, and here are some of the responses: 

Netronix Integration, No. 11 “Sell the services of your company as a value-add, but be sure you actually deliver the added value,” explains VP Steve Piechota. “Otherwise, you’ll have a one-project client and won’t have the opportunity to build a long-term partnership.”

Rapid Security Solutions LLC, No. 13 (tie) “You can’t become a fast-growth company by simply trying to grow fast — companies grow fast because they offer a product/service/solution package valued by clients,” says President & CEO Steven Paley. “Companies must develop a clearly defined and unique value proposition and client service strategy. Once that is in place, a commitment to process and procedure that supports those strategies will lead to higher growth.”

Stone Security, No. 24 (tie) “Figure out what you do well and specialize your business around those things,” says Stephen Edmunds, founder and CEO. “Find out who your best partners are and focus on those relationships and products.  Don’t try to be everything to everybody.”

Integrated Security & Communications, No. 26 “Examine your decisions from the customer’s perspective first,” notes Tom Catagnus, President & COO. “Trust your core competencies and constantly promote creative thinking. Never compromise on quality, integrity and character. Instill passion and fun, but be disciplined and focused on delivery.”

Koorsen Security Technology, No. 28 (tie) “Invest in your people,” says President Skip Sampson. “You will not have your company listed on the Fast50 on your own efforts — it can only be accomplished with hard-working people that are trained and motivated for success.”

Advanced Cabling Systems, No. 28 (tie) “Listen more and talk less,” notes President Michael Kennedy. “Be welcoming to client criticism and use it to change and evolve. People do business with people, no matter how big of a market or how big of a company.”
 
Fidei Group Inc., No. 33 “Do not fear change,” warns President Steve Schabaker. “Our industry is rapidly changing and new technologies will help to fuel your growth.”

Securetech, No. 34 “First, create a partnership for growth with your staff,” explains Carmen Lozada, Operations Manager. “Second, stay ahead of the trends and keep a tuned ear to your customer’s needs so you can match the right solution to the right customer. Finally, continue to provide impeccable service after the sale.”

Tech Systems Inc., No. 36 “Establish a set of core values and align every goal you have with those values,” explains owner Darryl Keeler. “Go after the business that is healthy for your company — growing too fast or selling the wrong service at the wrong price can cost you a lot more down the road.”

Southeastern Security Professionals LLC, No. 40 “In the security industry, everyone knows everyone — maintaining a good reputation is critical for continued success and growth,” says Chao Chen, VP of Operations.

Daytona Broadband LLC, No. 42 “Offer affordable support programs to all customers and provide one PM visit quarterly to keep in touch with customers,” says owner Ron Poulin. “Get seriously into IP systems — as the prices continue to drop, IP camera systems are the future, as analog is quickly fading out.”

Select Security, No. 44 “With all of the competition, and more big players entering each day, you need to figure out what makes you different and focus on that,” says Marketing Manager Joseph Mitton. “With the buy-anything-at-anytime attitude that the Internet has fostered, you really need to identify why your customers chose to do business with you and incorporate that message into your company.”

Sentinel Security Solutions Inc., No. 47 “Keep your customers engaged through interactive products so they are constantly reminded of how much they need and use their systems,” says President & Founder Justin Sherbon. “Stay on the forefront of the newest cutting edge technology so you are not left behind.”

Universal Protection Security Systems, No. 50 “Recognize that with change and evolution in our industry are opportunities,” says Ty Richmond, President of Security Systems & Technology and National Accounts. “Service and client satisfaction are always key to success but there is no doubt our industry is in a state of major technical change that will create a new landscape of possibilities and players.”

 

Best Practices of the Fast50
To what does each Fast50 firm attribute their rapid growth? Here’s a look at some of the best practices that got them there:

System Development Integration LLC (SDI), No. 15 “SDI attributes our strong growth to our unique blend of physical security and IT expertise,” says Jeremy Howard, Senior VP of vertical markets. “Our teams are outstanding on the security side, but also in the IT aspects — network infrastructure, mobile, managed services and cloud solutions.”

Sigma Surveillance Inc. dba STS360, No. 16 “Recognize that every single day you must continue to earn the trust a customer has put in you by providing the right solutions to meet their needs with a high return on investment and stellar back-end support,” explains Jessica Clark, Chief Operating Officer. 

Convergint Technologies, No. 17  “Our growth begins with the quality of colleagues that we hire and develop,” explains VP of Security  Tony Varco. “Second, we have incredible technology partners and a clear, forward-looking vision of not only the type of company we want to be, but also the specific strategies needed for us to attain our goals. Lastly, we have experienced extremely low colleague turnover, which has allowed us to stick to our vision.”

Surveillance Systems Integration, No. 18 (tie) “The magic lies within our people,” says President Michael T. Flowers. “Our highly trained team makes designing and installing some of the largest network video surveillance systems in the world look simple.”

Netech, No. 18 (tie) “What sets Netech apart is the flexibility that comes from being a privately held, debt-free company with 17 years of proven success,” says Rick Zimmerman, Director of Physical Security. “We are committed to protect our culture of being customer-focused, hiring the best and brightest talent, a spirit of entrepreneurism ‘go-for-it attitude,’ and conducting business with integrity and conservative values.”

AlphaCorp Security, No. 21 “Our growth is due in large part to our customers’ belief in the value we create, and an increasing awareness of that in our market,” says CEO Mike Painter. 
 
My Alarm Center dba Alarm Capital Alliance, No. 22 (tie) “It includes thorough due diligence, transparent relationships with sellers/partners, close focus on the bottom line and high-quality customer service,” says Tammy Biel, VP of Marketing. “These are just some of the things that drive success and growth.”

Envision Security, No. 22 (tie) “We attribute our success to the ‘pay it forward’ concept,” says President Darryl Johnson. “Without a customer or a happy customer you cannot succeed. We also create a fun, collective environment to work in, because happy employees drive success.”
 
Star Asset Security, No. 24 “To grow a great company, you must have a long-term mindset,” says Executive VP Robert Hirschy. “We look for long-term, (10-year) employees that are looking for a career instead of a job; long-term vendor partners; and long-term customers that we can stand beside and partner with.”

Protection 1, No. 26 “Through our customer relationships, call center delivery and local branch expertise and attention, we boast the lowest attrition in the industry, and certainly, low attrition has been a factor in our growth,” says Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Haenggi. “Secondly, we bring innovation to how we run the business; and and lastly, we believe in investing in our employees through training, development, opportunities and personal interest.”

Continental Computers & WLANmall, No. 28 (tie) “Our growth can be attributed to one key philosophy — one size does NOT fit all,” CEO Ezie Isaac says. “By having a deep technical knowledge of all of our products and a comprehensive understanding of networking, we are able to fully understand our customers’ needs.”

Firstline Security Integration, No. 28 (tie) “We listen to our customer’s needs and fulfill them in a cost-effective and timely manner,” says CEO and founder Steve Morefield. 

Vector Security, No. 32 “We provide our people with the training and resources they need to be successful; and company-wide focus on providing personal, customized support,” says VP of Marketing Art Miller. “Ongoing surveys, customer feedback and monitoring consumer trends keeps us on track and helps us get better.”

Pro-Vigil Inc., No. 35 “We were able to stimulate growth by doubling our sales force in 2013,” says CEO Jeremy White. “This move allows us to provide our services in every major market in the U.S. We are expecting an even higher rate of growth in 2014.”

Clearview Security Group LLC, No. 37 “Today’s world of technology has sterilized the business world — a handshake replaced with a text, a voicemail or an email replaces face-to-face interaction,” says VP of Sales David Olcott Sr. “We use technology, but we demand we use old-fashioned, customer-facing service.”

GO Security Solutions, No. 38 (tie) “Our goal is to provide our clients with quality products, exceptional installations and customer-centric service,” says Managing Partner Mike Kotwicki. “We dedicate time to truly understand each client’s business so they can offer a security solution to meet their needs.”

Electric Guard Dog, No. 38 (tie) “We’ve raised brand awareness by hiring outside sales reps to foster personal relationships with our customers; we’ve invested in trade shows and associations in all six of our major verticals; and we’ve become active sponsors and members of cargo theft task forces,” explains CEO Jack DeMao.

ISG Technology, No. 41 “With our ability to provide the full spectrum of data center services, on-premises infrastructure, the necessary bandwidth to connect it all together, and ongoing support, we are able to develop and provide customized solutions,” says Ben Foster, President and CEO.

Intertech Security, No. 43  “We stay on the leading edge of technology and refine our skills and knowledge to bring value to current and future customers,” says President & CEO Ron Petnuch. 

Dakota Security, No. 45 “The ability of our team to solve security problems is what has allowed us to deliver consistent growth in all of our markets,” says President and CEO Eric Yunag. 

World Wide Security, No. 46 “Our growth over the past five years has been driven by both organic sales and strategic acquisitions,” explains CFO Mark Simpson. “The company has used a wide array of creative sales and marketing programs to help generate organic growth. We viewed the acquisitions as the potential to increase overall growth through while leveraging our existing infrastructure.”

American Video and Security Ltd., No. 47 “I would attribute our firm’s rapid growth to focused weekly sales and operations meetings,” says President Larry Folsom. “We set sales, revenue, profit and RMR goals each year and make a plan to achieve them. These are fairly normal business principles — the key is the execution of the plan to achieve these goals.”

All Systems, No. 49 “We focus on finding clients, not pursuing opportunities that are only what we would consider to be one-time ‘projects,’” says VP Kourtney Govro. “Projects don’t allow us to build long-term meaningful relationships.”

 

How the Fast50 is Calculated

The companies ranked in the SD&I Fast50 are recognized and ranked based on percentage growth and revenue growth — with their overall ranking balancing those two considerations using a simple but effective algorithm. If we ranked companies purely on revenue growth, it would tend to favor larger companies — this way, the playing field is level for all entrants. 

We also balance the equation by studying three years of financial change to ensure that high-growth companies aren’t just “flash in the pan” types of businesses, but are able to sustain themselves. It also balances ups and downs. For example, a company on our list could have had negative growth in its first year but then achieved such strong growth in year two that the average was powerfully in the positive.

To enter, companies confidentially report to us their most recent fiscal years worth of gross revenues. Using those numbers, we compute the revenue growth and percentage growth for each of their three most recent fiscal years. We average the growth numbers to generate an average revenue growth for the company, and we do the same for the company to create an average percentage growth.

Ties result simply because of the formula average of the revenue and percentage ranks — it is a product of one being higher for dollar increase and one being higher in percentage increase. 

Companies may enter as long as one of their key business efforts is the installation of security solutions (e.g., video, intrusion, access control, perimeter detection, biometrics, etc.). It doesn’t have to be your sole business effort, but it does need to be a definitive part of your firm. 

 

 

Paul Rothman is editor-in-chief of SD&I magazine (www.secdealer.com). For more information on the 2013 and 2014 Fast50 rankings, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/sdifast50.

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