Couple sees an opportunity, start own alarm company

Monday, March 1, 2004

WINCHESTER, Va. - While working for an electrical contracting company that installed security and fire alarms on the side, husband and wife Barry and Kathleen Horton witnessed the “tremendous growth potential” in security first hand.

So after a shake-up at the company, the Hortons left their jobs, and rather than look for jobs elsewhere, they started their own company targeting the industry – BK Security and Home Automation.

“It’s the American dream,” Kathleen said.

To fulfill their dream, Barry and Kathleen are relying on more than their seven years of experience working for an electrical contractor. Prior to that job, Barry worked for his father’s security and fire alarm company. The company had its roots in the back room of a radio and television shop, but by the time Barry’s father sold the company, it had a central station and dozens of employees.

“I grew up in the industry,” Barry said.

In all, the couple has more than 25 years of experience.

Since starting BK Security from their home in June, Barry and Kathleen have settled into their respective roles running the business – Barry installs and services security and fire alarms, as well as digital video cameras, vehicle sensors, and home automation systems, while Kathleen prepares estimates and invoices, and mans the phone.

Because BK Security is a two-man operation, the couple has outsourced the monitoring of their alarms to a North Carolina monitoring station.

BK Security has been relying on word of mouth to grow its business, Barry said. Many of the company’s customers are friends he’s made while working in the industry. Other customers are referrals from area builders who are friends of the couple.

So far, BK Security’s business mix includes an equal amount of residential and commercial clients within a 100-mile radius of Winchester. However, its commercial clients, such as a beer distributor and a food distributor, are beginning to tip the scale, Kathleen said.

BK Security has also secured a service contract with a Florida firm that manages alarms for chain stores, including Toys ‘R’ Us and Office Max.

While growing BK Security, the couple has applied

for memberships to both the state and national burglar and fire alarm associations. Barry is already certified by the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Services, which restricts who can install and service alarms.