'20 under 40' 2012 - Donny Counts

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Donny Counts, 35
Director, installations, national accounts
Interface Security Systems
Earth City, Mo.

How did you get into the security industry?

By chance and from the outside. I grew up with a fascination of electronics and security. I was building door alarms on my room around age 10 and an access control system on my clubhouse at age 12. While attending the University of Central Arkansas (for electrical engineering), some family financial issues arose that required my exit from college. I immediately sought a full-time job in electronics that allowed for my creativity, yet still presented a vertical that didn’t necessarily require a college degree, and accepted a position at a local security company. Starting as a service tech, I quickly worked up the chain, learning and soaking up everything I could. Fourteen years later, I find myself directing all national installation activities for one of the largest companies in our industry.

What can be done to attract more young people to the industry?

Stronger representation at high school and college job fairs, building relationships with local tech and community colleges, and better referral/recruit programs for employees to bring in good talent and spread awareness.

Who in the industry has helped you most in your security career?

Rick Howell, my first mentor and manager who hired me into this industry, and Mike McLeod, my last mentor and president. Rick taught me the importance of extreme quality, and the ability to use creativity in a professional and effective way. … Mike McLeod’s wisdom and guidance also played an important role in my development. The most important lesson, and the hardest for me to grasp, was “A good answer today is better than a great answer tomorrow.” He taught me to make quick decisions leaning on the facts of the situation, my training and experience.