SD&I 2018 Fast50 No. 2: SSI Cashes in on Casino Security

April 16, 2018
Todd Flowers has transformed Surveillance Systems Inc., into the go-to source for gaming security projects

The gaming/casino market poses great security challenges – they operate 24 hours a day; their patrons arrive carrying tremendous sums of money and hope to leave with more; and most importantly, casinos must protect those assets without turning a comfortable, entertaining facility into a locked down fortress.

Founded in 2002, Rocklin, Calif.-based Surveillance Systems Inc., (SSI) specializes in providing security for gaming facilities. “Our objective as a company is to be the largest gaming security company in North America,” says company president Todd Flowers.

According to Flowers, SSI’s business breaks down according to the 80/20 rule, with 80 percent of revenues coming from casino gaming and the other 20 percent coming from hotels and resorts, government, retail and commercial.

SSI designs and installs video surveillance network technology specifically for casinos, and its work in the market has powered the company all the way to No. 2 in SD&I’s annual Fast50 ranking of the fastest-growing security integrators and dealers.

“There several reasons behind our growth,” Flowers says. “First, we are extremely focused on gaming. Second, as we have grown, we have invested in the best people. As a result, our competencies in gaming are the best in the country and the market has great confidence in us.”

2017: A Banner Year

The company’s formula is working. Revenues have grown by significant percentages every year since the company was founded; however, it was a major jump in 2017 – when revenues nearly doubled over the previous year – that propelled the company near the top of the Fast50.

In fact, SSI’s 2017 reached unprecedented heights. On top of winning gaming surveillance projects that have powered a 70-percent growth rate in 2017 alone, the company announced its biggest projects to date in August 2017.

Thanks to ongoing relationships with Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, SSI landed two Boston-area Greenfield casino projects that not only helped power its 2017 growth, but will spill into 2018 and 2019 as well.

A five-star waterfront resort accessible by land and sea, the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor resort will open in June 2019 and will feature video surveillance systems designed and installed by the SSI team.

In addition, MGM Resorts will debut MGM Springfield as part of a $960 million project in Massachusetts. The property – scheduled to open in Q34 of 2018 – will span 14 acres and three blocks within the heart of the historic city, and will include a 250-room boutique hotel, gourmet dining, retail stores, spa facilities, more than 125,000 square feet of gaming space and an 8,000-seat entertainment and events venue.

“SSI could not be more thrilled to continue building on the trust and confidence we have received from both MGM and Wynn over the years through helping to protect their invaluable establishments,” Flowers said in a statement. “To be pulled up to the big show once again, especially in such a thriving, competitive industry, is the kind of challenge SSI feeds on.”

Flowers credits the expertise of SSI’s team of 75 employees with the company’s ability to attract major new customers. All are well versed in design, engineering, installation and customer service.

Gaming is not Child’s Play

As most security professionals understand, the goals of gaming security in general is to make sure the casino is protected from negative financial impact. That means monitoring for players trying to gain unfair advantage, scam artists, false claims, cheaters, internal and external theft, and in the worst case, armed robbery.

Of course, video surveillance has been the traditional method to achieve these goals. SSI technicians must be experts in IP (and sometimes analog) video surveillance technology. The integrator requires its techs to be trained and certified on a variety of manufacturer systems encompassing traditional surveillance, but also video storage, access control, point-of-sale data mining, and surveillance room design.

Flowers’ focus on people emphasizes technical expertise, aggressive sales and a strong corporate culture –and the gaming industry has taken notice. In fact, SSI is invited to bid on security for virtually every new gaming project developed in the United States.

That claim may soon be expanding to the most gaming projects in North America. “We just launched into Canada,” Flowers says. “We are fully licensed there and have begun developing projects.”

Dealing with Declining Margins

Even for a company that services arguably the most surveillance-hungry vertical market around, the commoditization of equipment is having an effect. “In 1992, a basic black-and-white security camera cost $1,000, and a color camera would cost a little more,” Flowers says. “Today, the price has dropped 60 to 65 percent, depending on the camera.”

SSI has compensated for declining prices by increasing sales, which have sustained the company’s history of continually growing revenues.

In fact, the lower costs are actually helping to fuel SSI’s growth. “As technology improves, we are selling more and more complex systems,” Flowers says. “For instance, video analytics is a technology that has improved greatly. Facial recognition has improved dramatically, and we will be introducing facial recognition to our gaming customers this year. Technology is improving faster and faster year after year, and I think we’ll be seeing incredible analytics in the next five years.”

“Combine these developments with the declining cost of technology, and more companies will be able to afford security,” Flowers adds.

A Trusted Security Adviser

Flowers and SSI do not depend solely on trade shows to expose their customers to new technologies and developments. In its role as trusted adviser, SSI has decided to bring the trade show directly to customers.

In partnership with its top security manufacturer partners, Flowers and his team has developed SSI Technology Shows.

Held nationally throughout the year, the goal of the shows is to provide attendees with product demonstrations of the newest IP video surveillance technologies. The shows bring together SSI’s manufacturing partners over hosted lunches to identify the best and most cost-effective security solutions.

“We’re making our shows unique experiences,” Flowers says. “For instance, one of the shows is held at Wrigley Field in Chicago. After the show, all the attendees go to a game.”

SSI also hosts “Surveillance Systems Inc. University,” or SSI(U). This group of technical educational sessions accompanies SSI’s annual technology shows. Since the technical sessions are specifically designed for SSI customers, they are thus geared to the needs of casino video surveillance technicians and support staff.

Two examples of technical sessions include “Demystifying the Network,” an introduction to network concepts and design, and “Troubleshooting: Pixelated Video,” an investigation of video tearing and pixilation.

Another aspect of the adviser role is to continually work the phones. “We make 500 to 1,000 calls to customers every day,” Flowers says. “We are always asking them what we can do to help improve security.”

The two unique methods are paying dividends. “We try to touch every casino in the United States at least once a year,” Flowers says. “Of course, we are in touch with many casinos much more often than that.

“It is all relationship-based,” Flowers adds. “Everything we do is infused with the idea of building the strongest possible relationships with customers.”

Keys to Growth

Flowers says that technical expertise can only go so far in powering a company’s growth. He stresses that it must be combined with a strong corporate culture. “From day one, we have been a family owned company,” he says. “My daughter and three sons work for the company, and we’ve built a family-first environment by treating every employee as if he or she is part of the company family.

“We have a mantra,” Flowers adds. “It is that SSI will provide the best possible customer experience. Our decision making is all built around this idea. We apply this mantra to our employees and vendor partners, reps and distributors. We know that we are all working together to create success for families, and so we all treat each other with respect.”

Michael Fickes is a freelance writer with more than 30 years of experience in trade journalism. To learn more about SD&I’s seventh annual Fast50 and read about this year’s and previous yearly rankings and market research, please visit