Farewell to my friend Frank De Fina

July 28, 2015
Security industry icon will be missed by many

If you believe in forever
then life is just a one-night stand
if there's a rock and roll heaven
well you know they've got a hell of a band.”

Lyrics to 'Rock and Roll Heaven' by The Righteous Brothers

To say Frank De Fina was a Renaissance man would be as obvious as stating comedian Henny Youngman was the master of the one-liners or that Donald Trump’s mouth was as large as his fortune. Frank was a passionate man, a family man, an honorable man. And for more than 30 years has been one of the most respected and loved figures in the security industry.

Frank was fluent in Italian and a world traveler. He was a lover of fine food, wine and conversation. He was a master musician, a brilliant marketing strategist and insightful leader. The one constant in each of his professional stops was his tireless effort to create a culture of excellence and inspire those who worked with him to greater heights than they may have thought possible. To his co-workers he was an incredible mentor, to his friends he was intensely loyal, and to his family he was a gentle man with a quick wit and infectious smile. He was a loving husband to wife Patty, caring dad and doting grandfather.

There was also a hard side to Frank that garnered respect. He battled cancer with a quiet strength that belied the pain and beat it. There were also battles on the business front with his Japanese and Korean counterparts, as he would stand his ground for both his beliefs and his people.

However, this past Sunday morning, Frank De Fina, my friend and colleague was taken from this earth far too soon. Frank went into distress on a planned fishing trip with his grandson and was rushed to a Pennsylvania hospital where he succumbed. Frank was 59.

His passions were as broad-based as his business acumen. Frank could play almost a dozen different musical instruments, but it was with the guitar that Frank was in his element. Whether it was jamming with Carlos Santana and other rock legends or kicking it in front of several hundred clients and colleagues at Chicago’s House of Blues, Frank was transported as he caressed the frets of his favorite Fender. His love of the guitar was reflected in the magnificent collection he treasured and loved to share. In fact, when Frank took a brief respite from the security industry, he was drawn to the prestigious Paul Reed Smith Guitars company where he handled artists’ relations with some of the music industry’s biggest guitar icons.

Frank’s big heart drew him to many philanthropic endeavors, including his seat on the board of the Paley Center in New York and the New York Friars Club, where he was a board member of their charitable foundation. Several times he invited friends for lunch at the Friars and made us feel welcome strolling the historic mansion where legends like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Robert De Niro, and Lucille Ball have called home. He’d toss in a joke or two between courses, and then hit you with his drop dead impersonation of Johnny Carson.

Years back some in the security press were lucky enough to have Frank and Panasonic play gracious host to us during a tour of the manufacturing facilities in Osaka, Japan and corporate in Tokyo.  It was obvious from the first day that Frank was held in high esteem among his corporate bosses and the pride he oozed as he described what made the Panasonic process work was unmistakable.

It was the security industry that Frank impacted most. His vision aided the growth of several emerging giants as the burgeoning video surveillance marketplace evolved during early 1990s. It was with Panasonic that he enjoyed much success as he moved up the executive ladder to become both COO and President of Panasonic Systems Solutions Company. Following his 26-year tenure at Panasonic, he returned to the security scene in 2010 as Executive Vice President at Samsung Techwin America for close to five years, before final career stops at SightLogix and Hikvision USA.

In his final interview with our web editor Joel Griffin last month, Frank was asked what he thought made a security vendor standout from the crowded field. His answer was quintessential DeFina.

“It is extremely difficult, but I think w hat 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,” he said.

For Frank De Fina, people mattered. The art of the deal or the slick marketing program had to have the customer’s best interest as its bottom line.

My trips to New York and Las Vegas over the last 25-plus years were always made more pleasurable knowing booth meetings during the conference, followed by an engaging dinner at a choice eating establishment were on the docket.

I’ve always felt that people throw out the phrase, “he will be missed”, much too cavalierly. Here there is no doubt that the security industry has lost an irreplaceable man and many of us a dear friend. Rock on Frank!


In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Frank P. De Fina can be made to the trustees of Columbia University NYC to support Dr. Lamanna’s CLL research gift fund. (Gifts by credit card – contact Marilyn Mullins at 212.304.7206)

Following is the information regarding the services for Frank:


Viewing will be held on Friday July 31st from 5:00pm to 9:00pm

A.S. Cole Son & Company (Saul Funeral Homes, Inc)

22 N Main Street

Cranbury, NJ 08512



Funeral Services (Catholic Mass) Saturday 01 August 2015 at 10:00am

Queenship of Mary Roman Catholic Church

16 Dey Road

Plainsboro, NJ 08536