Security industry icon Jim Henry’s death leaves a void

April 17, 2024
Cancer claims industry veteran who was devoted to the integrator community and mourned by all he mentored

The security industry lost a giant of a man in both stature and influence this past weekend with the untimely death of icon Jim Henry. Born in 1953, James Edward Henry, or “Jim” to all who knew him, passed away on April 13 at age 70 following a prolonged illness.

Jim was one of the first people I encountered when I entered the industry more than 30 years ago and was quickly struck by his ability to command an audience of two or hundreds with his baritone voice and infectious laugh. Professionals gravitated toward Jim for counseling and mentoring, as did I over the years.

In addition to our regular conversations via telephone for interviews and industry comments on issues of the day, Jim would become my driver and riding companion to and from the Security Industry Association Gala dinners during ISC East week for several years.

It was here where I truly began to tap into what made him tick. Jim didn’t suffer fools or those who were less than transparent. Although we would engage in rousing political debate during our SIA Gala excursions, Jim appreciated an intelligent discussion even when it ran contrary to his fiercely held opinions. He savored a fact-based conversation and the conviction of his sparring partner's ability to stay in the ring when challenged. It was occasionally intimidating but always entertaining.

Love of the Game

I found Jim’s mentoring over the many years to be a genuine reflection of his identity. He was a fierce advocate for the security industry. But Jim also took a pragmatic approach to business and how technology needed to be a complement to operations and not its lone driver.

Sal Lifrieri, the President of Protective Countermeasures Inc. in New Rochelle, N.Y., says he owes his post-law enforcement career in security to Henry.

“He could be a father, brother, great friend, and mentor all rolled into one person. I worked for him at Diversified for a few years and was a member of the Board of Directors. In that role, I was able to see the real reach the man had to not only get things done but to be able to find solutions to problems and make everyone in the room feel like they had been heard and satisfied,” Lifrieri says.

“Over the past 22 years, I turned to him often for his advice and counsel. In the times when things were difficult, I remember one of his favorite sayings, ‘The juice ain’t worth the squeeze,’ and most times this saying put the problem in a proper frame.”

For more than 50 years, Jim’s name and reputation were synonymous with integrity and true grit in the security industry. From November 2001 through December 15, 2010, he was Chairman and CEO of Henry Bros. (HBE), headquartered first in Saddle Brook, N.J., and then in Fair Lawn, N.J.

Over the past 22 years, I turned to him often for his advice and counsel. In the times when things were difficult, I remember one of his favorite sayings, ‘The juice ain’t worth the squeeze,’ and most times this saying put the problem in a proper frame.

- Sal Lifrieri, the President of Protective Countermeasures
HBE was sold to a public company in 1986, reacquired by a team led by Henry in 1989, and grown as a private company until Henry took it public in November 2001. HBE was originally founded as an electronic repair shop in Paramus, N.J. in 1950 by Jim’s father John, along with him and his two brothers Hartford and Raymond Henry.

Under the ownership of the “Henry Brothers” from 1950 to 1986, HBE grew to have three divisions: Security Systems Integration, Land/Mobile Radio Systems and Consumer Electronics Sales/Service. Jim Henry joined HBE as an Applications Engineer in June of 1978 after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire.

A Friend, a Professional

Jim Henry had been recently working with industry consultant Ben Butchko, President and CEO of Butchko Inc., having collaborated in various roles over the last 18 years.

“His companies have executed multiple Butchko-designed projects. Sometimes our early conversations related to overcoming installation challenges, which he referred to as getting the ‘wire brush treatment.’ In each case, his commitment to addressing customer needs and continuously improving his business operations shined through.”

The two men presented together at professional conferences and served on various advisory boards. With repeated interaction, a strong personal friendship developed, and Jim joined the Butchko Inc. team in 2021, actively contributing to customer engagements and business success.

“Above all, Jim was a man of integrity and character, complimented by a big heart and sense of humor. I am honored to have earned his friendship, trust and respect. My love goes out to Cindy and the Henry family. He cherished his family and spoke often of the pride he had in his kids and grandkids. A special man who blessed many. He will be missed and fondly remembered,” Butchko says.

Scott Schafer, a past SIA Chairman and former Executive Vice President at Arecont, admits that Jim made an instant impression and immediate personal and professional impact on him from his start in the security industry 20 years ago.

“Jim taught me the importance of deep partnerships between manufacturers and systems integrators, especially in working closely together with end users,” says Schafer. “We always had firm and productive meetings even when we had challenges to overcome. One of the best things about Jim was his paying forward — in industry events, with PSA, with SIA and many others he interacted with. I’m glad I sent him a video message last week. I will miss him.”

A Love of Life

For more than 37 years, Phil Aronson was the President and CEO of the Aronson Security Group, a premier independent integrator of risk, resilience and security solutions in the industry. Phil was a long-time friend of Jim and was also privileged to collaborate with him closely on many security projects.

“I lost a good friend, colleague and mentor last weekend. He was loud, always full of energy, and politically opinionated but had the heart of a saint. We were strategically aligned both personally and professionally but were very opposite personalities. We could talk for hours -- mostly him talking -- and I loved every minute. To disagree with him was epic. He would make sure I knew exactly where and why he believed what he believed but would always listen to my point of view; then tell me I was wrong. However, we had a lot in common,” Aronson admits.

Like Aaronson’s father who began the family business in the lock industry before Phil and his brother migrated to the electronic security side, he appreciated the kinship with Jim, whose family business origins followed a similar path.

“We would talk at length about their fathers and working for them and then with them and the challenges and joy that brought to us. We didn’t talk often but when we did our conversations would start up right where they left off the last time we talked. Usually, first, about our families, which we were so immensely proud of, then about business,” quips Aronson, who remembers them trading barbs about who of them was going to do the first Lenel upgrade to learn what didn’t work so the others could learn from it.

“I would tell him I did it first last time, so now it’s your turn this time. I will miss those conversations so much. The world will be a much more boring place without him, but look out heaven, Jim’s there now.”

An Industry Track Record of Excellence

Jim Henry was Executive Vice President of Corporate Development for Securitas Electronic Security, Inc. (SES), joining SES following the acquisition of the Public Safety and Security division of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions in June 2018.

From December 2010 through June 2018 Jim was Executive Vice President for Kratos Public Safety and Security Solutions, Inc. Henry’s title of EVP for Kratos PSS was assumed on Dec. 15, 2010, after the acquisition of Henry Bros. Electronics, Inc. by Kratos PSS.

Jim was also extremely active in various security organizations and a stalwart with SIA as Don Erickson, the Chief Executive Officer of SIA remembers.

“Jim Henry’s involvement in SIA lent credibility to our effort to encourage integrators to become part of the SIA community. He encouraged integrators to become SIA members, promoted the value of our certification programs, strongly encouraged our ‘follow the money’ approach in government relations to advocate for additional federal investment in infrastructure protection, and provided invaluable advice and perspective toward how SIA could support the entire channel. He was a good friend, and he will be missed by everyone,” Erickson says.

Jim Henry’s involvement in SIA lent credibility to our effort to encourage integrators to become part of the SIA community.

- Don Erickson, CEO of Security Industry Association.
Anyone who fell into a political discussion with Jim quickly realized his convictions were as strong as his opinions, however, his devotion was always to country, not party.

“Jim was a patriot first and foremost and an incredible human being. He loved this country and loved the industry he worked in for his entire life. From Henry Brothers, Kratos, and Securitas. Jim understood what was needed to be successful. He was a passionate man with an incredibly huge heart. We shared so many stories and so many experiences which created a bond with whomever he touched,” confides Pierre Bourgeix, CEO and Founder of ESI Convergent.

“He wore his heart on his sleeve and gave people every bit of it. With a smile and a growl, as he sipped on his Longuvulin scotch and smoked a wonderful Romeo and Juliette cigar, he will always be remembered and loved by us all. See you in Valhalla someday my friend.”

Details for Jim’s memorial service and internment are not available currently. Our hearts go out to Jim’s wife, Cindy, and the couple’s four children - Alexander, Arianna, Christian and Jonathan, along with grandchildren Evelyn, Ryan and Connell.

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes the magazines Security Technology Executive, Security Business and Locksmith Ledger International and the top-rated website SecurityInfoWatch.com. Steve can be reached at [email protected]

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is Editorial Director of Security Technology Executive, Security Dealer & Integrator magazines and SecurityInfoWatch.com.