Craig Fisher remembers when he started in this industry like it was yesterday. The dedication to his profession has never left him. Always driven to fix and learn new things, Fisher started out as a helper on jobs and in the office for a Long Island, N.Y.-based security dealer in the mid-1980s. “I picked it up quickly. I enjoyed the service end and being involved with installations,” Fisher said, who quickly added, “It is nothing like today.” Which is actually a good thing—because today, Fisher is president of his own firm, VMS Security Services Corp., located in Yaphank, N.Y.
After a period of successful moves within other companies and a few changes of address, an opportunity to settle professionally in New York became available. “I worked for many years in other parts of the country and in doing so learned how to build a great service department everywhere I went,” he said. Years went by and his home-grown formula for growing businesses worked on both a local and national level; he was eager to give his own business a try. After pursuing opportunities with other companies to increase his knowledge and salary he felt the time was right in 2005. “It was my time and I really wanted it. I had tons of experience so I reached out to silent partners for advice and support.”
With so much experience behind him, Fisher’s inquiries were met with positive feedback and an eagerness from potential partners to invest. “When I reached out I did so with a goal and a vision. I had formulated a business plan which laid out how I was to proceed, make the business work, my budget and a way to generate growth.” With the same plan in hand Fisher also approached Honeywell. He had investors but he needed equipment. “Honeywell met me and said they’d work with me on everything from panels, wireless keypads and transmitters. I wanted to be different than the other dealers they worked with I offered to be exclusively Honeywell on the security business, representing them.” The company is also one of the ranks of firms that own and operate their own central monitoring station.
Fisher said he owes his success to his partners and dedicated staff. “Without the support of some of my partners in all areas of the business this venture wouldn’t work. My market niche is different from other companies. I make it very affordable for people of every economic level to own a hardwired security system.” With great pride, Fisher’s technicians wear full uniforms, the reason being when they come to a job site a client will know exactly who VMS is, all the way down to its owner, as Fisher often dons the uniform as well.
The work comes easily to the company according to Fisher, the greatest challenge, he said, is controlling costs. “It is the everyday business issues that can become a struggle. The more jobs you get the more money you have to lay out. It is not getting the work that is challenging it is balancing the finances, controlling job costs and employees.”
Thankful to have good people working for him, he wants them to share in the understanding of running a business. “I am starting a training program for my employees. I need them to understand the financials so they can help me and the company to control costs. I think everyone who works here should understand where it all comes from and where it all goes, from payroll, equipment purchases, supplies and even ways we can reuse and recycle.”
With the motto, ‘You have to be in it to win it’ the goal this year is to have everyone in the company fully understand that it applies to everything the company is engaged in. “When it comes to having a company work, everyone needs to be part of the process,” he said.
With the trend to digital, Fisher is not interested in going after just those who can afford a system worth thousands. “There are a vast majority of people who cannot afford a high end system. I do very high end work but I also have found a great niche in serving those who can spend far less than that for a quality installation. These people have been the foundation of my business, the reason why it has grown.” VMS taps this market with the help of local home shows and word of mouth.
Concentrating on the region of Long Island and the New York City borough of Queens for both commercial and residential installations, he has noticed that his company’s brand of quality and hard work are now landing him bigger jobs with bigger companies. “We have been awarded some municipal work and large foundation work.” While all projects have their own nuances, are unique, Fisher said what is a constant is that his clients find him attainable. “I don’t use an answering machine; you will always get a human being—day or night, including service calls.” Hard work and reliability have paid off.
Karen Duane Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor to Security Dealer & Integrator Magazine.