The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Old School Ethos Can Reap Rewards
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's BIg Idea comes from Don Young, COO of Protection 1.
YOUNG'S BIG IDEA:
In the information business — and that includes personal assets, duress issues, environmental concerns, automation and video — the company that provides user-friendly answers to the issues created by all of these interrelated entities will ultimately win.
ON YOUNG IS A LIKABLE GUY, EVERYBODY SAYS SO. If the U.S. Marine Corps were ever looking for a spokesperson, they couldn't find a better candidate than Young. Even now he looks like he should still be commanding a group of Marines. However, overriding all of this flattery is aman with both a purpose and a mission. But more about that later.
EMPHASIS ON EDUCATING END USERS
Young is the COO of Protection 1, and a good friend and working partner of the CEO, Tim Whall. Together, they form one of the top management teams in the industry (incidentally, both are members of SSI's Industry Hall of Fame with Young having received the honor this year). When I asked Young if he had one really great idea that he could share with the industry about managing a good business, he responded, "In the information business — and that includes personal assets, duress issues, environmental concerns, automation and video — the company that provides user-friendly answers to the issues created by all of these interrelated entities will ultimately win." I took that to mean the company that focuses on meaningful education of the end user will win. And I think he is right.
I've heard financial experts estimate that P1 would be worth more than $1 billion if it were ever sold, and I have never heard anyone be openly critical of the managment decisions that have been instrumental in building the company to where it is today. I've known Young for more than 20 years. In fact, we worked together for several years when I was chairman of Security Associates. He was, and still is, a consummate hard worker. He was, and still is, an honorable guy. In my interview with Young, he went on to say that connectivity will become increasingly important, which will cause senior management to recognize opportunities that come quickly and disappear just as quickly. I think he is right abou that also.
If you think back on the migration of new products and services into the alarm industry, the concept of the automated home was talked about in the early 1980s. As far back as as the early '90s I remember alarm dealers who were also members of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) talking about integrating home entertainment into the wiring of alarm systems. It really wasn't until the past five years that a number of companies added that capability and built on it successfully. The same is holding true for the commercial sector.
Video, video monitoring and real-time video interactivity also had been talked about for years. But it wasn't until the past five years that they've taken on "serious legs" and become a hot button in commercial installations. Both the residential and commercial segments of the industry have gone through radical changes, I believe, not so much becasue of technological advances, but because of our increased ability both to explain the value to, as well as educate, the end user about system capabilities. It's no accident that Protection 1 seems to receive a lot of recognition for its customer brochures and the way they explain how produts and services work, in readily understood terms (the company garnered the Best Overall Integrated Marketing Campaign SAMMY Award at the 2015 ISC West).
HELP YOURSELF BY HELPING OTHERS
I also asked Young what the thought the secret is to successfully working with somebody as driven as Whall. His answer was immediate: "Understand what the goals of the top person in your organization are, and then dedicate yourself to helping that person achieve his goals. I remember the old adage, 'He climbs highests who helps another up." By helping Whall achieve his goals, Young is helping himself and the organizaton to continue climbing at an unbelieveable pace. You could say that Young's business mission is to ensure that the compan's mission is successfully carried out.
Again this year I had the honor of being emcee for SSI's Industry Hall of Fame ceremoney during ISC West. Young was one of five inducted. It occurred to me, as he was accepting his award, that for all the years I have known Young, his mission has been pretty much the same: He is a man who takes pride and pleasure in accomplishing things that help other people. And toward that end, as I mentioned at the outset, it certainly doesn't hurt that he's a really likable guy.
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.