The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Let Us Preserve the Stories of Our Industry
Idea of the Month
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month’s great idea is inspired by the late Dale Elliott, owner and president of Allstate Security Industries in Amarillo, Texas.
Elliott’s great idea:
Future generations have much to learn from industry leaders that came before them.
Usually when a successful businessman has been around for a long time, we tend to apply superlatives that describe the person’s longevity and professional contributions. It is without hesitation that I speak of the late Dale Elliott as a legend and an icon. I will remember Dale, who passed away unexpectedly last month, as someone with a bigger-than-life stature reminiscent of John Wayne; erudite as all get out, and a passionate advocate for the industry and his beloved Amarillo, Texas.
I met Dale many years ago during a seminar in Texas when he and his company became clients of our then rapidly expanding consulting firm. Visiting with him on a monthly basis, my associate Steve Rubin and I got to know Dale both on a business and personal level. He was a bear of a man, knowledgeable in the martial arts and, in the early days, seemingly not afraid to use those skills. No matter where we went, I always felt as though I had nothing to fear from anyone as long as Dale was around.
Along the way he built up a very significant alarm company, expanded it and expanded it again, and was in the process of growing it once more when life and death caught up with him. I received the call from his grandson, Randall Renfroe, who was crying, and frankly so was I. A loss of any builder in the industry should not be taken lightly. Dale was not just a builder, he was a force of nature within the industry.
There was seemingly no industry event he didn’t attend, nor a program in which he didn’t participate. For 20 consecutive years I could always count on seeing Dale in the front row of our annual conferences in Las Vegas. He was a life-long learner and educator, an ardent supporter of the industry. He will be dearly missed.
Dale always had great ideas and was happy to share them with you. In fact, most of the time you didn’t even have to ask! I recall the evening I had questioned him about why he was always passing out lapel pins that featured an outline of the city of Amarillo. His answer actually taught me one of the great lessons of marketing: “Most people have never even heard of Amarillo, let alone visited this wonderful area. If I gave out pins with just my name on it, they would soon be lost or given away. But I can assure you that over the years the names Amarillo and Elliott have become synonymous with security in this part of the world.”
Sure enough, I can’t tell you how many times people called me because they had just spoken to “some guy named Dale from Amarillo, Texas.” I always knew who they were talking about.
A Suggestion for the Industry
For this month’s column, I would like to submit to our industry a proposal inspired by Dale’s passing. Before the industry loses any more of its icons, why not memorialize the great ideas these stalwarts espouse and offer to us all? Possibly spearheaded by an association or individuals, let’s collect the insights of our industry leaders in order to preserve and share them with future generations. There is much to learn and appreciate from this largesse of business acumen and life experience.
The process can be informal; simply ask questions that elicit their knowledge and experiences. Would this be the defining legacy of our generation? Probably not, but it will certainly add value to what it is that us “graybeards” will have done during our lifetimes. Perhaps a book or a video archive can result from such a concerted effort.
Rest in peace, Dale, I’ll wear my Amarillo lapel pin with pride and fond memories. You were truly one of a kind.
Ron Davis is a SSI Hall of Fame inductee and President of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group Inc. Also known as The Graybeards, the company is active in acquisitions and mergers exclusively in the alarm business.