Manufacturer 1-on-1: Hikvision's Frank De Fina

July 9, 2015
Industry veteran discusses his plans to help grow the company in the U.S.

Earlier this year, video surveillance solutions manufacturer Hikvision announced that it had hired Frank De Fina to serve as its new senior director of strategic sales for Hikvision USA Inc., the company’s U.S. branch. An industry veteran of 20-plus years, De Fina has worked in high ranking positions at several of the largest and most successful video companies.

De Fina is perhaps best known for his work at Panasonic where he spent 26 years of his career and eventually ascended to the position of president and COO of Panasonic Systems Solutions Company. He would later join Samsung Techwin America as the company’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to joining Hikvision, De Fina served in the same capacity at thermal camera maker SightLogix.

It’s safe to say that De Fina has seen it all in his years of experience in the surveillance industry, from the domination of analog and grainy video footage to the rise of IP technology and the crystal clear images generated by today’s cameras. In this "Manufacturer 1-on1" interview with SIW, De Fina discusses how he plans to help grow what is already a successful company into an even more dominant player in the U.S. market and shares his views on industry trends.

SIW: What was it that initially attracted you to Hikvision that eventually led you to join the company?

De Fina: What I’ve tried to do throughout my career is build a great team, which eventually led to building great companies. As much credit as is sometimes given to me, most of the time, the success has to do with putting the right team together, so I think in the case of Hikvision – they already had some incredible depth of product – and one of things that really attracted me there was the commitment from top management, which is committed to becoming the next great company. This is something I like to do and I think the match was a good one in that they had the desire, the commitment from management, the product line, and I had the desire to build another great team, so that is what brought me here.

SIW: What are some of the goals that you hope to achieve in both the short- and long-term at Hikvision?    

De Fina: As with anything that is new, the first thing I want to do on a short-term basis is get a good understanding of what’s the value proposition that Hikvision provides? I am totally committed to solving the customers’ problems, so really what does Hikvision have to solve those problems and then, I think, we have to supplement the existing team with additional talent. Ultimately, in the long-run, my job is to really organize the sales effort, as I call it, and we have to position this organization so that the customer is at the top of the pyramid. This is something I think companies lose sight of and at Hikvision it is really about end-user, integrator, distributor, channel partner.

SIW: Are there any areas that you think sets the company apart from the rest of the surveillance industry?  

De Fina: If you study the industry at all you’ll see that we have world-class products and I think we have world-class products at very good prices. What this really means is – projects are increasingly price sensitive –and if we can show the industry and show the market that we have these great products, but give them good value, I think that is what sets us apart. One of the most important things is we are a financially sound and solid long-term partner. It’s highly unlikely we’ll be acquired, we have tremendous technology now and we are a very stable partner and I think that is important in this time of turmoil.

SIW: How hard is it, in general, to stand out from the crowd in the video market when everyone seems to be offering essentially the same products?

DeFina: It is extremely difficult, but I think what I’ve learned over the years is the people are the product. I agree, if you look at it from a product viewpoint, a lot of us do the same things, some better than others but in the long-run the real differentiator or the real product, if you will, are the people.

SIW: What are some things you believe the company needs to improve upon?    

De Fina: I’ve only been here a short time, so some of my comments have to do with my assessment of Hikvision before I joined. I think what we really need to do right now is organize ourselves to align more closely with the key market segments. We have great products and a lot of products, we have great people and now it’s a matter of organization and alignment.

SIW: Hikvision has been categorized by some industry analysts as fitting into that “one-stop-shop” for surveillance products. Do you agree with that label and how does it help or hurt the company?

DeFina: I really believe that is up to the customer to define. We certainly have the products to be that one-stop-shop, but I’m not so sure a one-stop-shop is good for the customer. I think we, as a company, should be ready to move in any direction. If it becomes a matter of three or four surviving companies and all of them have to do everything then obviously we can do that, but I think we have to be flexible and the customer may have a need for a certain product that we or a competitor cannot provide in a one-stop-shop scenario. The industry, as a whole, has to really be careful about that. We should be ready to respond to a megatrend if that happens, but I think right now we have to be flexible.

SIW: What are some of your plans for growing the company’s sales in the U.S. and subsequently helping Hikvision increase their market share in North America?

DeFina: I think the idea here is to help organize the sales effort. It’s not really a matter of all the right people, even though we still need to supplement the organization, but it is how to organize everybody so that we’re all moving in the same direction? But again, getting back to the pyramid with the customer at the top, how do we best organize ourselves to solve their problems. People only buy anything for two reasons: one it solves their problem and the other is that it enhances their life. We’re in the problem solving business.

SIW: What are some of the large, overarching trends that you see happening in video surveillance currently?

De Fina: I’ve been around for a long time. I was around when the PC industries burst and I see a lot of the same things. There is a lot of great technology, but the technology itself is not as big as everyone thinks it is, so we’re going to continue to see, I believe, consolidation. If there are three or four or five survivors at the end of the day, there may be a stronger trend towards the one-stop-shop, but again I think that should be carefully managed so that we don’t limit the customer’s choice. You’ll see continued M&A I believe as these technologies become integrated. There is a lot of cool stuff out there, but what I like to say to people at a tradeshow is, "Look around you and I’m sure we’ll be here in five years." The picture I want to paint there is you’re putting your job on the line to buy a technology and you want to make sure the people that provide that are still going to be here and, more importantly, still be able to support it.  

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief,

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.