SD&I Fast50 2018: Keeping Pace

April 16, 2018
Adaptation is the key to prosperity for the fastest-growing security dealers and integrators

In the current technology and industry climate, the fastest-growing security dealers and integrators are often the ones who are adept at keeping pace with the latest trends and market shifts – whether it is cybersecurity, the challenge of DIY threats or the continuing consolidation of the space.

Above all – today’s security dealers and integrators must navigate the changing landscape and stay on top of the trends while continuing to offer the quality service this annual list is known for.

“Our industry has dramatically changed over the past five years,” says Jason Christensen, CEO of NorthStar Home, which makes its third consecutive appearance in the Fast50 in 2018. “There is an increased complexity with all the different options and competition. Having a clear strategy and purpose is more important than ever.”

This year’s Fast50 market research delves much deeper into those changes and their effect on the security dealers and integrators who provide them. But first, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 fastest-growing security dealers and integrators.

Access the full Fast50 rankings list here

A Closer Look at the Top 10

For complete profiles of 2017’s top five Fast50 companies, see the rest of this issue of SD&I: No. 1 TIC; No. 2 Surveillance Systems Inc.; No. 3 Security 101’s Charlotte franchise; No. 4 DynaFire; and No. 5 Convergint Technologies.

Here’s a closer look at what powered the growth in the companies that rounded out the top 10:

No. 6: Safe Home Control Inc., of Orem, Utah – Michael Birchall, President and CEO, has seen his company’s revenues and an employee count double from 2016 to the end of 2017; in fact, Safe Home Control is currently the third-largest ADT dealer in the country. Powering this growth is likely the company’s focus on smart home products, which are integrated into the popular ADT Pulse systems.

“Overall within the dealer program at ADT, home automation is driving some of the most significant leads and sales across the U.S., and Canada,” explains Bob Tucker, ADT’s Director of Corporate Affairs.

Safe greatly leverages the ADT brand on its website and marketing materials as well. “That’s the whole reason they want to be a dealer – it is all about the brand,” Tucker says. “They want to have the brand everywhere – that’s what makes everything work.”

No. 7: CM3 Building Solutions Inc., of Fort Washington, Pa. – Ranked No. 4 in the Fast50 in 2015, CM3 returns thanks to a renewed focus on cybersecurity. “(We) see cybersecurity as a critical issue for our industry,” says James Fitzgibbon, Security Operations Manager.

CM3’s Information Security division was formed in 2016. It focuses on identifying information security and business process vulnerabilities, and provides solutions to effectively and progressively secure cyber assets and equipment. Its team – which includes a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) & Certified Ethical Hacker V9 (CEH) – works intimately with each facility to identify threats, streamline organizational procedures, create disaster plans, and educate all personnel to be knowledgeable, productive and compliant network users.

In addition, the division has enabled the company to review its own internal policies and create best practices for system deployments and maintenance contracts, according to Fitzgibbon, while also offering vulnerability and penetration testing services.

No. 8: Prevent Security & Technology, New Castle, Del. – The very first Fast50 list in 2012 featured Prevent Security & Technology at No. 26; however, company president Eric Taylor dramatically shifted the focus of the business in 2016, when it officially partnered with Unified Door & Hardware Group – one of the fastest-growing door and door hardware distributors in the country.

“Now what we do is we sell access control in the construction market through the door hardware company,” Taylor explains. “We use their relationships with general contractors to push our products and services.”

Hand-in-hand with the shift in the business model is an intense focus on construction-related projects – especially on multi-tenant facilities and mixed-use properties with technology needs to go even beyond access control to intercoms and video surveillance. “We are installing wireless locks from Allegion or ASSA ABLOY by the thousands – every door is getting card access, because the price has reached a point where it is affordable,” Taylor says. “Door hardware has given us an opportunity to get in on the early stages with architects.”

No. 9: Security 101’s San Diego & Los Angeles franchise – Established in just 2013, Security 101 in San Diego and Los Angeles has averaged 138-percent year-by-year growth over the past three years.

“A lot of the growth we are seeing in the security industry is due to a more proactive approach by organizations of all sizes ,” says co-owner and Director of Sales Jason Beardsley. “They want to protect their resources, employees and customers, and as security technology advances, we can do much more than we could just a short time ago. The technology is allowing us to create a safer environment.”

Under the guidance of Beardsley and co-owner and Operations Manager Kevin Schaefer, the company specializes in integrated enterprise security systems that incorporate video, access control, alarm monitoring and visitor management.

Read more about Security 101’s franchise model in SD&I’s July 2017 cover story at

No. 10: Imperial Surveillance of Arlington Heights, Ill. – Making its second consecutive appearance in the Fast50 top 10, Imperial has averaged a 76-percent growth rate for the last three years. "We strive to be the best at everything we do at Imperial – from answering the phones to installing security systems,” explains Co-Founder & CEO Garrett LeTourneau. “We go above and beyond to give the customers the best possible experience.”

Focused on the Chicagoland and surrounding areas, Imperial sells, installs and services video, access control and alarm systems to a customer base dominated by commercial clients. “We have focused on a commission-based sales structure geared towards rewarding RMR sales,” says company president Daniel Burress.

The Fast50 Market Research: Access it here

All entrants of SD&I’s Fast50 fill out a series of market research questions designed to give dealers and integrators greater insight into the security market and the forces affecting it. Editor’s Note: Percentage results for some questions may not total 100% – we encouraged those surveyed to “select all that apply” on certain questions. 

Download and view a full PDF of the market research results at

The Fast50 in their Own Words

Beyond the raw research results, a major aspect of the Fast50 is being able to get advice and insights on best practices for growth, industry trends and more. Here is a collection of some of the most impactful comments:

…on cybersecurity

“We have increased our internal training efforts and have hired a third-party consultant to help us evaluate and continuously improve our own cyber practices. At the same time, we have increased our work with clients to help them understand what they can do to better protect themselves.” – Bert Bongard, President and CEO, LVC

“We are more selective with our technology partners based on network security concerns.” – Richard Stuart, VP Security, Vision Technologies Inc.

“With all of the concerns over cybersecurity with (some) video surveillance manufacturers, it is simply not worth the risk to be included with those on a race to the bottom where price is concerned.” – David Vermillion, President, Vermillion Systems Inc.

…on recruiting and retention

“As Integrated Electronic Security Systems become more technically complex and integrated into our customer’s networks, having strong and talented IT professionals is a must. We need system architects, engineers, and cybersecurity professionals as well as service professionals with the aptitude to quickly assess, troubleshoot and mitigate performance or operations issues.” – Dan O'Sullivan, CEO, GC&E Systems Group

“Our biggest challenge is the lack of available talent in the security industry. We have resorted to growing our own talent because the industry has become so complex. It takes years for someone entering the business to fully grasp the breadth of it.” – Steve Piechota, Vice President & CFO, Netronix Integration Inc.

“Industry-wide, experienced and seasoned technicians are aging, with some wanting to retire and others looking to get out of the field and into the office. Skilled trades are down in favor of higher education for incoming generations, and we are feeling the pain.” – Andy Boyd, President, Integrated Protection Services (IPS)

“We have recently partnered with local technical colleges and programs, helping them to design curriculum and training that will best result in qualified candidates for us.” – Brian Thomas, President & CEO, A3 Communications Inc.

“Simple systems are the past. To compete on larger and more complex jobs, your team must be very open minded when it comes to technology. Hire only technicians that are capable of learning IT and other high-tech applications.” – Chris Leonidas, Vice President, Silco Fire & Security

“If there was a message to convey to the new entrants in our space, it would be to recognize the incredible potential for advancement in an aging industry.” – Angela White, EVP, Central 1 Security

…on market forces & technologies

“The most significant challenge we face is the continued commoditization of the security industry – the ‘race to the bottom’ as it relates to price. Convergint has addressed this challenge by developing value-added services that ultimately create business outcomes for clients.” – Tony Varco, Vice President, Security, Convergint Technologies

“Field hardware and installation will become even more of a commodity and press margins for integrators. It is critical that integrators continue to adapt their business models to maintain margins that will allow for growth and reinvestment.” – Jamie Bumgardner, Chief Operating Officer, Prime Communications Inc.

“Deceptive sales practices continue to be a challenge for our industry. There are a few bad apples that are giving our entire industry a black eye. While ADT has taken a leadership role through legal action and by teaming with ESA, TMA and the BBB to educate consumers, we need others in the industry to join the fight.” – Bob Tucker, Director of Corporate Affairs, ADT

“Increased competition from other trades – ie electricians, AV, etc. – is a concern.” – David English, VP Sales & Marketing, Southeastern Security Professionals LLC

“Large players are coming into our space and lowering the costs of monitoring rates with DIY systems,” – Curtis Kindred, President and CEO, American Defense Systems

“DIY is our greatest threat, and it is our job to educate and promote the quality difference.” – Jeff Torok, Vice President, Am-Tec Total Security Inc.

“We are addressing DIY by deepening the services we offer our residential customers – strengthening the relationship we have with them and shifting the playing field to one that better leverages our strengths.” – John Cerasuolo, President and CEO, ADS Security

“The reality today is less about the technology buzzwords like the Cloud or IoT than it is about whether the existing systems at a client facility are up to par and integrated both physically and virtually. Sometimes merging old communication and server technology with new requires bridging a networking and technology span of 30 years or more.” – Michael McWilliams, President and CEO, Red Hawk Fire and Security

“Major retailers and technology companies will continue to develop technologies for smartphones, tablets, TVs, and other connected home products. It is our job as integrators to adapt these products/technologies into our own business strategies.” – Matthew Zucker, President of Sales, Beacon Protection

…on RMR

“We don’t simply encourage every sales associate to attach RMR on each proposal – we require it. The impact has been exponential.” – Aaron Hughes, VP Sales, Brady Integrated Security

“We have focused for the last several years on creating RMR-based platforms and sales models. We have found the best way to create those programs is to have the right compensation plans with the right product packages.” – Bobbie Hirschy, President and CEO, Star Asset Security

“We are moving towards more of an "as-a-service" model throughout our offerings. We have found that our clients have shown a lot of eagerness to embrace these kinds of programs once they see the reduction of internal manpower that comes about as a result of having these systems managed by industry professionals.” – Matthew Netardus, Systems Design and Engineering, Security 101 - Hampton Roads

…on business challenges

“In 2018, our biggest challenge will be succession planning and employee acquisition to sustain our year-over-year growth.” – Joshua William, General Manager, Skynet Integrations

“The greatest challenge we face is maintaining company culture and high quality services as we continue to grow. Finding the right people and integrating them properly is a real concern.” – Brent Edmunds, President, Stone Security

“Customer acquisition is one of our biggest challenges. We are using a variety of approaches including social media and direct marketing.” – Zach Grove, President, Armada Global Inc.

“We have made it a point to visit with A&E firms, electrical contractors and other technology partners to ensure they know who we are and how we are different from other systems integrators. This has led to business opportunities we would not have seen without these relationships.” – Tim Cook, Managing Partner, Security 101- Ohio

…advice to fellow integrators/dealers

“The key to success in the security industry is to focus on a particular vertical or group of related ones. This focus will enable you to better understand your customers and their pain points to provide them with solutions to solve their unique challenges.” – Jennifer Graham, VP Marketing, Kastle Systems

“The most successful companies create a great culture and fight to maintain it as the business grows.” – Nathan Leaphart, CFO, Electric Guard Dog

To access all of the results, trends, advice and best practices from seven years of SD&I Fast50 rankings and research, visit