Just don't call me 'green'

Residential companies may walk the walk, but not talk the talk
Sunday, July 1, 2007

YARMOUTH, Maine--Although some shun terms such as "green" or "earth friendly," many independently owned security companies are avidly recycling batteries, scrap metal, and the reams of paper and piles of cardboard that filter through their offices daily. They're also thinking about energy efficient fleet vehicles.
Mike Meredith is president of Security Equipment Inc. of Omaha, Neb., a $17 million alarm company with 13,000 (a 50-50 mix of residential and commercial) customers, a UL-listed central station, and four branch offices. He likes hunting and the great outdoors and says he's a "Republican green guy."
"One thing we're trying to do is be more paperless. We're working really hard to do things electronically. We scan all of our contracts and documents and do more reports through the network," he said.
With four branch offices, 50 trucks and rising gas prices, Meredith said SEI is reviewing a move to more efficient fleet vehicles. Whenever possible, they send one truck instead of two to a job. And if Detroit could come up with a pick-up that gets 35-miles to the gallon, "we'd be all over that."
Mark Sepulveda, president of USA Alarm Systems in Monrovia, Calif., said he recycles everything he can.
Interstate Batteries picks up his old batteries and he has a series of cans in the back of his warehouse for extra wire, employees' soda bottles and cans, and places for scrap metal.
"We recycle all the yard signs and we even reuse the popcorn [packing material]," he said. "Call me cheap, but that's what I do."
He recently replaced two fleet vehicles with more efficient minivans that resemble PT Cruisers.
Not far away in Arcadia, Calif., is Post Alarm, a full-service security company that also does armed response and patrol for neighborhood groups. Post has invested in PT Cruisers for its patrols and the sales force. "We put them in PT Cruisers for two reasons: one, people notice the vehicle and also because of the gas consumption," said Bob Jennison, business development director for Post.
Are the benefits and challenges of environmentally friendly business practices something the industry discusses in a formal way?
"I've been going to the [California Alarm Association] meetings since 1985 and I don't think [recycling and energy conservation] have ever been talked about in general meetings, but [where you recycle batteries and what kind of fleet you have] are things we talk about amongst ourselves all the time," Sepulveda said.