Editor's Note: Let’s Change the War Culture

June 9, 2015
We cannot be adversarial in our struggle to attract new talent

It is surely not a new phenomenon, but America seems especially obsessed with war these days. This has nothing to do with al Qaeda or ISIS or even the Middle East; it is more about how the word is just thrown around. It is likely a product of television: you have Storage Wars and Parking Wars and Swamp Wars and Dr. Phil’s Wedding Wars. There’s wars about cupcakes and restaurants and food courts and roller coasters. Now the wars are invading the business world — bad pun intended I guess.

I recently received a very well-written article by an entrepreneurial expert entitled “Winning the Talent Wars.” Perhaps it is because I am writing this on Memorial Day, but the whole “fill-in-the-blank Wars” method of describing just about every challenge we face has grown tired and certainly trite. But beyond the distastefulness of the war terminology, are we really and truly fighting a war for talent in the security industry?

Recruitment was the No. 1 challenge that business owners cited in our recent Fast50 market research; in fact, when I asked John Carter, who runs 2014’s the fastest-growing security firm, his biggest obstacle to success, he answered in one word: “Talent.”

At the recent PSA-TEC Conference, I was treated to several sessions — including the Fast50 panel I moderated — that addressed the talent and recruitment angle as it relates to security integrators. And yes, there is some poaching of the best sales and installation talent going on in our industry; but if this industry is fighting a war for talent, we are all on the same side.

“A concern I have heard from many of you is finding new talent,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said at the PSA State of the Industry panel. Erickson went on to describe SIA’s new cooperative educational program with Mercer Community College “It’s an attempt to diversify the industry by training new entrants to the industry in the community college setting on sales, installation and project management.”  

You can get the full overview of SIA’s new security degree program at www.securityinfowatch.com/12046510.

Launching school-related programs is a great first step, but there is still much to be done as an industry. Rob Simopoulos of Advance Technology is a big proponent of taking time out of our busy schedules to actually visit the colleges and universities to personally recruit — and he’s not talking about for his own successful integration company, he is talking about for the industry as a whole. The fact is, many of the young people learning at colleges, universities and even high schools have no idea that security is an industry with such potential for stability and profitability; and they equally have no idea that security is a technically challenging and mentally rewarding profession.   

Even if you aren’t willing to visit your local community college or high school, you had better get in touch with “Gen Y” if you want to survive. In my Fast50 roundtable session at PSA-TEC, the subject of Generation Y, or the millennials, was a popularly debated one.

What may have been the most stark illustration was the show of hands when panelist Ron Oetjen of Securadyne asked how many members of Gen Y (qualified as born in 1980 or later) were in the well-attended room. There were two.

The talk from the rest of us centered around how to attract Gen Y to our industry; and frankly, there were as many obstacles as  openings. But everyone from the panel of fast-growing business owners, to PSA chairman Bill Bozeman, to industry veteran owners like Jim Henry agreed: it is a difficult task that must be completed if we want to survive and thrive as an industry.

The fact is, we should not be fighting anything. We don’t need to turn our “weapons” upon each other to survive a “war” for talent. The only way to overcome this struggle is to work together to reach the common goal, hopefully without casualties along the way. 

Paul Rothman is editor in chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine (www.secdealer.com). 

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 www.securitybusinessmag.com.