'20 under 40' 2014—John Smythe
John Smythe, 32
President, Habitec Security, Holland, Ohio
What inspired you to get into the security industry?
My introduction to the industry was really baptism by fire. My dad founded the company in 1972, and he gave me a call in 2005 and told me he had been diagnosed with leukemia. I was 23 at the time, and he called me home to get acclimated to the business. He passed away six months later. I took a look at the business, and my family did, and we decided it was a great business to be in, so we continued the tradition. It just happens to be a business I like and that gives us an opportunity to provide protection, security and peace of mind for families and businesses.
What can be done to boost the ranks of young people in the industry?
There’s going to be a natural progression of younger, tech-savvy types joining our ranks because of what they see out there. A lot of national companies are doing advertising on our behalf, talking about all the new technologies in homes as well as for commercial applications. In our recruitment we’re going to have to clearly discuss these things—it’s not just running of wire and connecting to a phone line anymore; it’s IP, cloud-based solutions. I think that will be very attractive to the type of people we need in this business.
Where, in terms of technology and trends, do you see the security industry going next?
For us, I foresee our central being the backbone for the services we offer, and I think it’s important we’re involved with monitoring critical signals beyond and above what we’re currently doing. For example, we’re monitoring an entire piping system for the city of Bowling Green, Ohio, ensuring the water doesn’t overflow. I also think hosted security offerings, such as software-as-a-service, will be key. We’ve invested heavily in hosted and managed access control solutions, and we also host video health checks for DVR and IP camera apps and do video monitoring, which is a hosted application as well.