Integrator Connection--Silly Boys: Security is for Girls!

Nov. 19, 2012
American Fire & Security, Dayton, Ohio, banks on social media

Few business owners would build their business around a happening chick with pink hair. Come on, really!?!

But there is an integrator in Dayton, Ohio, that has made its mark with just such a logo. The girl with the pink hair is the avatar for Erica Tucker Wood. Wood runs American Fire & Security with her husband Robert, better known as Chip. Erica bills herself as The Security Girl.

 The Security Girl and Wood are pioneering the use of social media, for customer interaction, marketing, sales and staying in touch with prospects and the community.

 “I created The Security Girl,” Wood said. “The Security Girl writes a blog but has kind of turned into our company mascot.”

 Wood had a graphic artist draw up image of The Security Girl that graces all of AF&S media. “We put it on all our marketing materials and my business cards, and it has really boosted our sales tremendously because it’s what people remember,” she said. “It’s a great way to stand out against our competition by having a chick with pink hair.”

However, the birth of The Security Chick was a bit of serendipity. Wood was at a networking event. A friend was helping her out, introducing her to other attendees.

“He would tell them, ‘this is Erica Wood’ and they would have a blank look in their face,” she recalled. Then he would say, “She’s The Security Girl.”

That clicked. “People immediately knew who I was when he said The Security Girl,” Wood recalled. 

 That evening she told her husband how frustrating it was that people could not remember her name but that they remembered her as The Security Girl.

Robert chuckled. He said, “Maybe you should change your name to The Security Girl.” 

At some point, Erica started to realize that Robert was on to something—completely different! “Later that week I commissioned a graphic artist to draw the image of The Security Girl. The brand was born,” she said. 

     Today The Security Girl is the ambassador of American Fire & Security. 

 The branding is so effective that potential new customers often call and ask to speak to The Security Girl. And The Security Girl was recently honored in the top 20 as one of America’s Fastest Growing Systems Integrators in SD&I’s Fast50 program (see

 “Most companies spend years trying to develop a brand,” Wood said. “We have found something that works right out of the box.

The success of the Security Girl is no fluke. Wood understands social media and sees all of the related activities as a fun part of the job.

“I love dealing with social media,” she said. “I always tell small business owners if they are going to invest in social media that it takes a strong commitment to really make it work,” Wood said. “I try to spend as much time as I can interacting with our followers and try to have as much content as possible that I feel our followers would be interested in reading or sharing with their followers.”

Women selling to women

Wood met her husband back in the 1990s. At the time, Robert was in the security guard business. “I got involved and got really excited about meeting business owners and helping them out with their security,” Erica recalled. “I began to expand the business out into electronic security, and eventually the electronic security division of our business just spun off into American Fire & Security.”

 As it turns out and as many security professionals are realizing—women are a big portion of the buying public today. “We found that women are more comfortable talking to women, so I kind of got involved at that level,” Wood said.

AFS promotes itself as a full-service security integration and engineering firm. It provides southwestern Ohio and nearby Indiana and Kentucky with fire alarm, burglar alarm and CCTV services. On top of a broad blanket of security integration and consultation, it offers 24-hour central station monitoring, fire extinguishers, Ansul system inspection, commercial lock and key services, installation and repair of access control equipment and door maintenance, safe and vault sales and services. Their Marshal Protective Agency security office offers event security, crowd control, and K-9 security.

 Above all, service to the customer and top the community is paramount and part of the company’s success.

“We take the time to know each of our customers personally and learn about their unique security concerns,” Wood said. “We make the sale because we offer our customers a personalized solution to their security needs,” she added.

 Both Robert and Erica Wood credit the bulk of their success to dedication and hard work. “No one in business becomes successful overnight or just through dumb luck,” Erica said. “We have worked very hard to grow our business and we understand that our customers work hard every day to grow their businesses.

“It’s that mutual trust and understanding amongst small business owners that has built such strong bonds between us and our customers,” she said.

Hiring challenges

Wood said the company’s biggest challenge will be continued growth and delivering on The Security Girl promise, and that equates to hiring right.

“As our company grows, we need to find the best people to facilitate exceptional customer service,” she said. “When I interview perspective sales personnel I always ask, ‘What does The Security Girl mean to you?’ If they do not identify The Security Girl with exceptional technology and customer service I know right away that they are not a good fit for our company.” 

Right now, AF&S is working to expand its product lines and its markets. In five years, Wood expects the company to be bigger. “But our core values and our dedication to our customers will not change,” she stated. 

This past summer they expanded into residential alarm sales. 

 “We are looking at opening branch offices in various locations throughout the region and doubling our service staff,” Wood said. Technology will be part of that move. As the business expands, The Security Girl wants to sell more security systems, of course. She also wants to sell people on social media.

“My biggest technology gripe with social media is that not everyone is using social media,” she said. “While social media is a valuable marketing tool, you have to remember that there are still other marketing venues to explore when trying to reach new customers.”

That said, Wood loves her smartphone. “I know that sounds silly, but by having my smart phone I don’t have to be tied to my desk all day,” she said. “It allows me to have more face to face time with our clients and potential clients.”