The economy makes 2012 a challenging time to be in the security business. Despite that, an integrator with a good plan and good people will succeed.
“Our biggest challenge today is managing the business through the economic ups and downs that our country faces,” said John Krumme, president and CEO of Cam-Dex Security Corp., Kansas City, Kan. Right now, Cam-Dex is doing well thanks to their extensive product base and the depth of experience on the staff.
What Krumme would like to see is some shaking loose of the purse strings in the marketplace.
“The challenge is maneuvering through an election year when customers are still holding on to their capital expenditures…waiting to see what is going to happen in Washington—things we don’t have any control over,” he said. Almost all of their business comes from commercial operations.
Krumme is the third generation in the security business, with the company founding in 1957 by Krumme’s great uncle. Upon the uncle’s death, Krumme’s father bought the business. “I grew up in the family business,” he said.
Having spent weekends and spring breaks working at Cam-Dex, it was only natural that his father afforded him the opportunity to go to St. Louis and open the firm’s first branch office. In addition to gaining valuable experience, he met his wife Debi there. When he became president of the firm, he returned to Kansas City.
Building a success model
“We feel that treating customers and employees fairly, with consistent performance, is a major factor in our success,” Krumme said. The result is a strong referral business. With the exception of a few residential jobs done for executives at the businesses Cam-Dex serves, all of their work is commercial.
Integration is the technical core of the business.
“After listening to our customers, once we feel we know what their objectives are, we draw upon the products we have to satisfy the customer’s objective…not something we happen to have or sell. We work diligently to assure it meets their needs,” he said. Then they seamlessly integrate IP video, access control, emergency mass notification, alarms and electronics.
The name of the company comes from the firm’s first 12 years of history. Cam-Dex was a system used by many grocers, bankers and others as a check checking process. The system photographed the customer with the checks they offered. If the check was returned for any reason, the merchant had photo identification of the customer with the bad check.
The name comes from CAMera inDEXing. The company processed all the film and printed photographs of bounced checks with the check writer’s picture. They kept records of every transaction for two years. It was a perfect start for a security business.
Today, as a small company, Cam-Dex still embraces technology in-house. Krumme noted that their corporate customers no longer allow a month—or even a week—for estimates. “They want the figures for a job at COB today,” he said.
As a result, Cam-Dex is strong in deploying tablet and laptop computers, iPhones and iPads, to the sales and service staffs. “We use technology for project estimates, job costing and managing projects properly,” he said.
That said, one of Krumme’s biggest frustrations is based in the technology he has available to sell his customers.
“The biggest gripe I have is when we no longer can support some of those legacy products we have,” Krumme stated. Often, a firm two or three steps removed from Cam-Dex and its customers creates a deliberate end-of-life obsolescence for a product or, more typically, for the enabling software. “Perhaps a manufacturer stops supporting a product since Microsoft has ended a particular software version and pushes us on to something else,” he said. The customer, Cam-Dex and the manufacturer all are in the lurch.
“Sometimes those programs are less than five years old,” he said. “The customer has not fully depreciated the cost of their equipment investment and they are told, ‘you’re going to have to upgrade.’Technology is fantastic, wonderful. But it also creates frustrations from time to time.”
Still, he loves the technology that allows his team to be in constant touch with the office and with customers to create responses and proposals quickly.
That plays to Krumme’s insistence on attention to detail and follow-through with their customer base. “That’s what’s allowed us to continue to grow,” he said. “Our growth, stability and success truly come from the dedication of our people and their interest level in the company.”