The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Paying Tribute to an Industry Pioneer
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 Jim Stevens, a long-time alarm industry and home entertainment professional.
Stevens’ great inspiration:
It’s not the quantity of time that you spend living; it’s the quality of your life that counts the most.
Jim Stevens may not be familiar to many readers, but security industry veterans who have been around since at least the mid-1980s may likely recognize the name. Jim died in July, a significant event in the lives of his family and friends, but not a passing that many in our industry were aware of. I would like to introduce you to the man.
I knew Jim for the better part of 40 years. He had just become a grandfather before losing a courageous, 10-year battle with cancer. Jim’s great inspiration for this column, which I invite you to review above, was exuded by him continuously throughout his life.
A little background. Jim built a rather large, traditional alarm company in the Tarpon Springs/Tampa Bay, Fla., area early in his career. When he felt that he had accomplished all that he could with the business, he sold it and moved on to the home entertainment industry. It was there that he will be remembered by many in this industry as being a pioneer of the “bundling concept.” He showed alarm dealers how to bundle home entertainment, structured wiring and other electronic systems into a single home system. He would go on to conduct many seminars on behalf of the bundling concept, and for many years was a sought after speaker at industry events.
When a small group of us started Security Alliance, which eventually evolved into Security Associates Int’l (SAI), Jim came onboard. He was an investor, an important part of its board of directors, and for 20 years participated in SAI conventions and meetings as a speaker and panelist. Along with his wife, Mary Anne, he became a fixture at these events.
A few months ago my wife, Bev, and I met Jim and Mary Anne for dinner along with Steve Rubin, one of my partners, and his wife, Shelley. It was good to rehash old times, and looking at Jim I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps he hadn’t beaten cancer. He looked great, his mind was as alert and vibrant as ever. Yet we learned he was going in for more testing and a new treatment, which ultimately could not save his life.
As I ponder that splendid evening I can’t help but reflect on what a great attitude and what a great war Jim waged against the ravages of cancer. I thought he had won. We would speak again about a week before his passing; he knew then the end was near. And yet the quality of the way Jim led his life overshadowed the harsh realities of his final days.
Acting on Inspiration
The lesson here, although personal and sad, is the same lesson that Winston Churchill passed on to war-weary citizens of England during World War II: “We must never give up; never give up.” Although he succumbed to the disease, Jim prevailed in the battle of life. I am sure his family will remember him as a fighter who never lost sight of the quality of the life that he lived.
We all can learn from the likes of a Jim Stevens. Look at the people around you — employees, friends, family, business associates, etc. Think about what you might say to them if you knew the end was near. Some time back an old and very dear friend of mine who was pretty well known throughout the industry, Lee Zobel, called me and said, “Ron, I just called to tell you how much I’ve appreciated you over the years. And I wanted you to know that.”
What an amazing thought to know that you’ve been appreciated by someone. You can be a recipient or you can be a giver of those kinds of thoughts to people around you. Just like Jim had always been a giver of his thoughts and inspiration. Rest in peace, my friend.
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.