The 2015 SD&I Fast50: On the Fast Track

April 7, 2015
Announcing the fourth SD&I Fast50, honoring the fastest-growing security service providers in North America; along with best practices and key industry research

For the past four years, SD&I has ranked the 50 fastest-growing security services firms, while sharing insights on those companies’ best practices for better business and future growth. This year’s Fast50 features similar lists and best practices from the owners of those companies; however, the 2015 version of the program also includes a vastly expanded look at the impacts of technology, market expansion and much more among all of the companies that entered the rankings.

Thus, as you flip through the list of the top growers our industry has to offer, look for special pie charts and graphs that will give you valuable insight into the state of the industry for security dealers and integrators, including: the fastest-growing technologies being added to the portfolios of your fellow dealers and integrators; the vertical markets where your fellow firms are finding the most traction; the threats from both inside and outside the industry that may prove to be a challenge in the years to come; the top business management concerns for security services providers; and much more.

This year’s fastest-growing security dealer/integration firm is headed by two familiar faces in the industry —the Carter Brothers — who have rebuilt their firm following a 2012 sale to Tyco Integrated Security (read a full profile here).

The next companies are no stranger to the Fast50 — Securadyne Systems continued to grow, rising to second from last year’s fourth-place ranking, passing last year’s No. 2 Perimeter Security Group, which comes in this year at No. 3. Two newcomers to the top spots round out the first five: No. 4 CM3 Building Solutions and No. 5 Alarm Capital Alliance.

Before jumping into the best practices from the remaining Fast50 companies that you have come to expect, let’s first take a look at how some of them are attacking a few of these market drivers already mentioned.

Technology Trends

Staying on top of the latest trends and technologies, of course, is paramount to running a successful security services business. Whether your customers know deeply about these trends or not, it is certainly a good idea to put them on your (and their) radar.

 “We have seen an increase in demand for outdoor wireless, combined with IP surveillance for campuses, large enterprise environments, public utilities, cities and counties,” says Brian Thomas, president of A3 Communications, the No. 6-ranked company in the overall Fast50. “In addition, our clients are frequently requesting unified security and IT solutions to comprehensively ensure the safety of their staff, facilities and technological investments as well as maintain operational efficiency. Also, it is already clear that security applications will be hosted or moved to the cloud on a much larger scale in the near future.”

“We believe that the largest trends and changes in the security industry have been involved with IT and video monitoring using analytics,” says Roger Hirschy, Executive VP of the No. 8-ranked Star Asset Security. “We offer a comprehensive program that includes both and as we look at a customer’s security needs.”

“The trend that has impacted (No. 10-ranked) Minuteman the most is ‘system unification,’” reports CEO Joseph Lynch. “Our clients are requesting solutions that are more seamlessly integrated — or a ‘true integration’ between platforms.”

Other technology trends cited by the top companies include: integrating IP access control with video management systems (VMS); video verification for alarm systems; video analytics; mobile access control; and HD, megapixel and 4K video and displays.

Vertical Market Trends

While the top growing market cited in our research was “corporate,” there are several industries driving growth in the security services market. “We continue to see demand for advanced technology, specifically for security and operational processes, in the education and government markets,” A3’s Thomas reports. “However, we have also experienced significant growth in the corporate world, including the banking and industrial markets.”

In fact, security for educational institutions — both K-12 and colleges — is seen as one of the fastest-growing by Fast50 companies, along with industrial, healthcare and government/municipal.

“We have seen a good amount of growth in the local law enforcement for both covert and overt surveillance and municipality installations that include wireless networks, IP cameras, VMS, storage systems and servers,” says Ronen Isaac, vice president of No. 9-ranked Continental Computers.

Companies 6-10: Key Service Offerings

It goes without saying that every security services firm is on the hunt for RMR. Here’s a look at some of the key service offerings used by the second half of the top 10 Fast50 companies:

No. 6- A3 Communications: Has added new services and hardware offerings, such as electrified door hardware, which allows the company to provide turnkey security and IT solutions for clients of all sizes. “Along with the addition of electrical services, we are forming relationships with clients and general contractors much earlier in the project process to offer a true systems integration solution,” Thomas says.

No. 7- Netronix Integration Inc.: “The addition of service and preventive maintenance agreements has really helped to round out our offering to clients,” says Vice President and CFO Steve Piechota.

No. 8- Star Asset Security: “We offer a complete turnkey preventative maintenance program to our customers that is all-inclusive and proactive instead of reactive,” Hirschy says.

No. 9- Continental Computers / “Our customers want to learn more about how they can monitor their cameras through different clients,” Isaac says. “Mobile platforms have become a huge selling point and can be attributed to our growth in video management offerings.”

No. 10- Minuteman Security Technologies: “Our accelerated growth over the past three years is attributed to our investment in high-level engineering resources and software developers,” Lynch says. “This allows us to offer solutions to our clients that the average security integrator is unable to provide.”

Challenges to Overcome

What was the biggest obstacle or challenge that Fast50 companies overcame in attaining growth? The responses from the Fast50 ran the gamut from hiring and training sales teams, to attracting IT talent, to the Internet of Things and the transition from analog to IP — and trends and technologies that go well beyond. Here’s what they had to say:  

Courtney Brown, Director of PR and Marketing, NorthStar Alarm (No. 12): “Our greatest challenge in achieving this growth has been recruiting and building a larger sales force. We have a high level of retention in our sales program but are up against some giants in recruiting and increasing our size. We have overcome this by focusing on investments in our current force to maintain our retention.”

Mike Stewart, President, ARM Alarm LLC (No. 13): “Becoming 'Slow to hire and quick to Fire.' Our real growth started by getting the right team members on board and recognizing the impact of keeping the wrong ones around for too long. There have been some hard and expensive lessons in being 'too slow to fire.'”

Steve Schabacker, President, Fidei Group (No. 15): “The biggest obstacle was completing the construction of our new facility. It took all of our operations knowledge and experience to create a facility from the ground up that would meet our needs now and in the future. We moved in late 2014 and have been amazed at how having the right space can make all the difference.”

Jamie Haenggi, Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer, Protection 1 (No. 18): “We can’t allow the pace of our growth to impact the reputation we have built over time. Customer experience and quality delivery has been the cornerstone of our value proposition in the market place – and regardless if it is a 3,000 sq. ft. home we are providing service to, a 300,000 industrial plant or a 3,000 location national retail chain – every customer should receive the same high-quality experience.”

Al Saxon, SVP Sales and Marketing, Vision Technologies Inc. (No. 20): “The transition from analog systems to IP provided the opportunity for us to excel, as our background is as an IP-centric solutions provider. We found that traditional security technicians and engineers had (for the most part) trouble transitioning to an IP environment; conversely, our IP-certified engineers didn’t have the experience or framework for properly executing on a security system’s mission and objective. It was the blending of the team that provided us with the ability to successfully grow.”

Steve Firestone, President, Select Security (No. 21): “Growth is easy when you have a compelling story to tell that clearly defines your differentiation in the marketplace. What is more difficult is finding the right people to help you tell the story. Talent recruitment is one of the biggest hurdles facing not just us, but any company seeking to grow rapidly.”

Nathan Leaphart, CFO, Electric Guard Dog (No. 24): “Our challenge continues to be driving awareness of our solution within the marketplace. Many people have never thought to use an electric security fence to protect their perimeter, but can't imagine doing anything else after they find us.”

Steve Morefield, CEO, FIrstline Security Systems (No. 26): “Continuing our high level of customer service while growing our customer base.”

Mario Campos, President, QPCS LLC (No. 27): “By adopting the IoT methodology (Internet of Things), we were able to overcome infrastructure limitations and deliver wireless video surveillance and access control via 4G LTE.”

Mike Kotwicki, Vice President, Go Security Solutions (No. 30): “Our biggest challenge was managing large project-based work while continuing to support and service our existing client base at the highest level. We did this by creating multiple project teams on the operations side as well as dedicating a service technician to handle the growing service needs of our clients.”

 Eric Tabor, VP Marketing and Vendor Management, ISG Technology (No. 32): “We are moving from a branch model VAR to a functional model solutions provider. By leveraging data-driven decisions and team members across all locations, we're driving predictable revenue.”

Chris Gilbert, president, Security Pros LLC (No. 33): “Security Pros was built though organic means without outside investment, so holding fast to this organic strategy has proven to be an obstacle to overcome. We had to overcome the urge to borrow money or seek outside investment to accomplish our goals and continue our growth. This essentially meant that we had to sell our way into growth. Recently we realized this strategy’s benefits as we were able to leverage large sales revenues against new vehicles and personnel.”

Andre Greco, VP Sales & Marketing, Xentry Systems Integration (No. 35): “The biggest challenges were effective and efficient project management and post-installation services. We had to implement very stringent processes in both areas. Processes and controls were put in place for every department from order entry through post-installation hand-off to our service team.”

Steve Spiech, CFO, ITech Digital (No. 36): “Getting our product mix and internal processes right, while at the same time focusing on developing a more positive culture.”

Brandy Taylor, 2 Krew Security & Surveillance (No. 39): “Developing and deploying systems and personnel to administrate and service our customers.”

Leela Sherbon Vice President, Sentinel Security Solutions (No. 42): “With a large growth in staff we are still implementing policies, procedures, and communication channels for the company to work independently of the owners but still maintain the locally owned feel that has made us so successful. We are still in the process of working through this obstacle.”

Ruth Torok, VP, Am Tec Total Security Inc. (No. 45): “Earning the respect of local governments through CCTV and alarm installation projects. Because of our reputation, we have been able to expand into other cities throughout Southern California.”

Jorge G. Lozano, President & CEO, Condortech Services (No. 46): “Business development to the federal market segment, where there is not easy access to the decision makers and/or the contracting officers. Our success is that we have primed 97 percent of our contracts with the federal agencies, and the gives us a past performance edge vs. the competition.”

Advice for Growth

The remaining Fast50 company executives were asked to provide one piece of advice that they would you give to other companies who hope to achieve a similar level of growth. Here’s what they had to say:   

Chad Gordon, VP of Security & Industrial Automation, Blue Violet Networks (No. 11): “Get Creative with your projects. The same old security just doesn't get it done in today's technology market place. Embrace new products and services. Train your staff for the new demands.”

Michael Kennedy, President, Advanced Cabling Systems (No. 14): “As you continue to grow and expand, each client has to matter just as much as it did when you only had one client.”

John Sebastian, President, Safety Dynamics Corp. (No. 16): “With terrorist threats and activities growing, our industry must be able to provide the best level of security to both corporate and government clients to ensure reliable, seamless operations; while at the same time, giving the bad guys the least accessible profile of our systems.”

Jeremy White, CEO, Pro-Vigil (No. 17): “To achieve rapid growth, your company must be well capitalized and have clearly defined goals and timeframes.”

Brent Edmunds, President, Stone Security (No. 19): “Form strong partnerships with the leading manufacturers and maintain a high-level of excellent installations and customer support.”

Jeffrey Cohen, CFO, Ackerman Security (No. 22): “Build strong strategic partners in technology and banking.”

Navin Goel, CEO, Go Safer Security (No. 23): “HR is more important than cash flow — because without having the right crew you will not be able to complete the jobs you get.”

Steven E. Paley, President & CEO, Rapid Security Solutions (No. 25): “Stay completely focused on your clients and their unique needs and goals. Eliminate or outsource all other processes that distract or hinder your company from focusing on your clients.”

Robert W. Bull, Jr., President/CFO, Cam Connections (No. 28): “We employ very talented, dedicated employees and reward them appropriately. This is the single most important factor to our growth.”

Joseph Lininger, VP of Marketing, Guardian Protection Solutions (No. 29): “Find reliable, quality lead sources.”

Tom Catagnus President, Integrated Security & Communications (No. 31): “Have the courage to stay with the same 'core values' you started the business with. Don't become a 'ME TOO' security provider. Hold on to your uniqueness.”

Tom Hruby, Executive Vice President, Security Equipment Inc. (No. 34): “Recruit outside the security industry for your IT needs. It is easier to train an IT Tech on security than the other way around.”

Darryl Johnson, President, Envision Security (No. 37): “Not all partnerships are meant to be. Sometimes you need to know when to back out of a relationship that is not working.”

Alan Kruglak, SVP, Genesis Security Systems (No. 38): “The key is product standardization. Without it, you will not be able to be a high-quality service provider.”

Eric Yunag, CEO, Dakota Security Systems (No. 40): “Identify your company's foundational principles and be diligent about reinforcing them throughout your organization.”

Mike McGuirk, Sales Manager, CGL Electronic Security (No. 43): “It takes good forecasting and resource management to add the necessary employees throughout the process to ensure you don't take on too much too soon. Having a solid foundation in place and adding key pieces throughout the growth process is the key.”

Phillip J. Mumford, President, Mumford & Associates (No. 44): “Provide professional on-site customer/user training.”

Rick O'Brien, Managing Partner, NW Security & Sound (No. 47): “Find the top personnel…walk before you run.”

Marshall C Marinace, President, Marshall Alarm Systems (No. 48): “Obtain and develop a qualified sales force that stay on top of trends and additional revenue-generating services.”

Matthew Petnuch, Executive VP, Intertech Security LLC (No. 49): “Stay focused on retention while exploring new markets and technologies.”

Rick Zimmerman, Director Physical Security, Netech Corp. (No. 50): “Build a team of the brightest and most talented people you can.”

Fast50 Awards Ceremony

If you are in attendance at April’s ISC West show, be sure to catch our Fast50 awards ceremony, where you can meet me and top executives from some of the Fast50 companies, as we will honor the top 10 for their achievements. The ceremony is sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA) and Reed Exhibitions, the organizer of ISC West.

It will be held on the lobby stage just outside the exhibit hall main entrance at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15. If you aren’t able to make the event, look for live coverage at — the article will appear as part of our digital show daily on April 16 (sign up for the digital show daily newsletter at

Additionally, if you are going to attend the upcoming PSA-TEC conference, I will be moderating a Fast50 panel on the morning of Monday, May 4. Details are available at  

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine (

About the Author

Paul Rothman | Editor-in-Chief/Security Business

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at [email protected]. Access the current issue, full archives and apply for a free subscription at