At PSA, we believe our integrators are the most innovative, advanced and effective in the electronic security industry. To recognize these exceptional qualities, we will bring one PSA integrator to the stage each month and introduce them to the PSA community.
In mid-January, the retail industry makes a big splash in New York City at “Retail’s BIG Show,” an annual event hosted by the National Retail Federation. Professionals from around the world are drawn to this event where they have opportunities to network, exhibit and learn about all things retail. The buzz around Retail’s BIG Show got us thinking about our own physical security integrators and how several of them play important roles in the retail industry. We spoke to Everett Cope, director of sales at S-Tron – a PSA Integrator who has experienced significant growth. Cope shared market insights and S-TRON’s experiences in retail.
S-TRON has intentionally based its business model on military leadership qualities since the beginning. This leadership starts at the top with CEO Steven Dunn and President Pete Mattschull, both Navy veterans. Through rough seas and smooth sailing alike, Dunn and Mattschull have assembled an ever growing team of military veterans and highly skilled civilians that is second to none in the security industry.
How long has S-TRON been in business?
S-Tron initially launched in 1995.
To date, what has been the most unique or interesting job that you’ve worked?
One of the most exciting opportunities came in 2004 when S-TRON began exclusively installing and servicing for national and large regional retailers only. One of America’s largest grocery chains, after speaking with many other integrators, asked S-TRON to quickly install just under 100 locations with all new video surveillance equipment. The interesting part is that this project had to be completed on a national basis in eight weeks or less. The S-TRON team not only completed this task in under eight weeks and on budget, but the methodology of this project became the template for how all large roll-outs are accomplished at S-TRON. And yes, the customer still enjoys being an S-TRON customer to this day.
The low priced integrator will always say he can do the job, but what the end user should be searching for is a truthful integration partner that becomes a trusted advisor.
How did S-TRON get started in the retail industry?
When Pete Mattschull (President) joined S-TRON in 2004, he brought the very first retail customer to the company. S-TRON previously provided security integration to the power industry in the New York /New Jersey area. After working with a few additional retailers, Pete Mattschull and Steve Dunn (CEO) made the decision to focus only in the retail space…and the rest is history.
What are some of the biggest challenges that integrators are facing in the retail market?
Competition from low priced (low margin) competitors is becoming an issue for the end user more so than integrators, but it does have a direct impact on high quality integrators. In the days when analog video was the only option, most integrators no matter how low their quality of installation could at least install basic systems. But today, with enterprise network based systems, the low priced integrator is attempting implementation of software and equipment residing on the end user network, which can be disastrous. In other words, do you want the receptionist at the doctor’s office performing your heart surgery simply because he or she is in the medical industry. Just as in this scenario, the end user is going to have complications with the low priced integrator due to a lack of education, experience and desire to do what is required no matter what the situation. The low priced integrator will always say he can do the job, but what the end user should be searching for is a truthful integration partner that becomes a trusted advisor. And, while cost is always a factor up front, high levels of competence, education and professionalism add value for many years into the future.
What makes S-TRON stand out in the retail market?
“No Customer Left Behind.” S-TRON has intentionally based its business model on military leadership qualities since the beginning. This leadership starts at the top with CEO Steven Dunn and President Pete Mattschull, both Navy veterans. Through rough seas and smooth sailing alike, Dunn and Mattschull have assembled an ever growing team of military veterans and highly skilled civilians that is second to none in the security industry. Because of this operational military environment, S-TRON customers enjoy respect, reliability and a high-level of communication. Customers quickly realize that at S-TRON“failure is not an option.”
In addition to retail, what other types of clients do you have?
S-TRON specializes in Retail Loss Prevention. Grocery & convenience store chains, restaurants and small to medium retail stores are our focused vertical markets. By concentrating on these closely related verticals, S-TRON is able to perform at a much higher level than if we were to take a shotgun approach.
Speaking as a leading company in security systems integration, what are three qualities that a successful security integration company will have?
▪ Honest and frequent communication with customers and employees alike.
▪ Education and training on a consistent basis. Again, this applies to both customers and employees.
▪ Always remember who and what is important and treat them like it.
What is your advice to individuals who are looking to build a career in security systems integration?
Learn everything you can and continue to educate yourself. Your education is not only studying the best books & publications in the industry (of which there are many), but also stepping outside the industry to learn in ways most people don’t consider. Learn body language and how to read reactions posed by customers and prospects. Learn to “read between the lines” what prospects actually mean when they make statements. Knowing the psychological aspects relating to sales and customer service can put you far ahead of the crowd, and customers / prospects will certainly appreciate your professionalism.
What makes an individual a strong leader in the security systems integration industry?
Integrity is one of the strongest leadership skills within our industry. Did we do everything possible to understand the project and the customer’s wants, needs and desires instead of rushing through the process just to get the purchase order quickly? Taking time and thoroughly vetting the entire project, including educating the customer even when it may be uncomfortable, is our responsibility. Passing on a project or customer which is not a good fit for us is extremely difficult to do, but the customer will generally approach you again when the time and situation is right for all parties due to your proven integrity.
Is there anything else you would like the PSA Community to know about you or S-TRON?
Great success has allowed S-TRON to move our corporate headquarters to a new location. Increasing in size from 3,000 sq. ft. to over 12,000 sq. ft. gives us the ability to grow even further in the future.