The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Tapping Into First-Rate Lawyerly Advice
Marc Katz is an Indianapolis-based lawyer who practices nationally, specializing in alarm company business transactions representing either the buyer or the seller. Katz has worked with some of the largest companies in the industry for years.
I’ve personally worked with Katz and find him to be gracious, competent, somewhat humorous and, most important for this article, he acts like a business man — not a lawyer!
Let me explain the fundamental nature of Katz’s great idea for this month’s column. Your lawyer can be a crucial member of an advisory team, who can be counted on to contribute learned guidance and advice when emergencies occur. You just might find this person to be as effective as a businessperson as he or she is as a lawyer!
Now this column isn’t about hiring or not hiring lawyers. Everyone needs to do as they see fit. I generally tend to rely more on lawyers than I used to.
Years ago, a group of alarm industry leaders — all individually recognized — joined together to form an advisory board service to help independent alarm dealers better manage their companies. The service was to be similar to that provided by a real board of directors serving a CEO. The only difference being in this case the CEO wasn’t necessarily accountable to the board. Since most of the people involved were of an older generation, we jokingly called ourselves the Graybeards.
The business never got off of the ground, but the name stayed with us and even today our company is often referred to as “The Graybeards.” Nevertheless, the concept really is something that needs to be done and implemented on a local level.
If you’re serious about growing your company, consider this advice inspired by Katz’s idea: Form an advisory board of the brightest, most knowledgeable people you can find, including those who you know will not agree with you all the time. Present your business to that advisory board along with updates on a regular basis. Then, as every CEO does, try and hold yourself accountable for the results (or lack thereof) at the end of any given period of time (usually a calendar year).
Now going specifically to Katz’s idea, if you include professionals — lawyers, accountants, consultants, former owners of alarm companies, etc. — you’ll accomplish some pretty significant things. First off, you’ll get rock-solid advice and your team will be kept informed about what you’re doing. Something surprisingly beneficial may happen, too, as a result of being surrounded by all of this good thinking.
Lastly, you’ll find yourself establishing and reaching newer and better goals by working alongside these professionals. Katz and many of his legal counterparts all over the industry (among them, Les Gold, Alan Pepper, Eric Pritchard, Carl Tannenbaum, Dennis Stern, Hugh Van der Veer and Bryan Lawrence) are all business people first, quality lawyers second.
And by the way, why don’t you reach out to some of those who are accessible — such as those who conduct seminars, give speeches, write columns, etc.? Ask questions, engage in debate, and see what happens when good minds join forces with yours to think about how great your business can be.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.