Protection Bureau's Keith M. Ladd, 1933-2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

LYNDELL, Pa.--Keith M. Ladd, 74, well known in the industry as founder of The Protection Bureau and co-founder of the Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, died Sunday night. The cause of death was cancer.

"This industry lost a real leader. Keith was gifted, wise, kind, just a wonderful man," said Ira Somerson, an industry consultant and friend of Ladd's. Somerson said he first met Ladd 40 years ago when they were competitors. Somerson said Ladd was his mentor and a mentor to many, many others in security industry. "He was in a tough businessman in a tough business, but he never let toughness overcome his ethics and kindness."

Ladd worked with Somerson, Ray Eller, Patrick Egan (of Select Security) and others to found the Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association in the early 1970s.

They met at a diner and decided that "Keith would give me $100 for gas and Ray paid for my hotel and I agreed to travel around the state to help form the association," Egan recalled. Ladd helped build the PBFAA into an active and influential state association, Egan said. He helped to grow the PBFAA by branching out beyond the industry to involve the police and fire department in PBFAA efforts. He worked with the business organizations and spent a lot of time advising, mentoring and working with other alarm company owners.

Egan called Ladd a "mild mannered superman," someone who never got mad and who was particularly good at getting people to work together, whether the project was forming the PBFAA, advocating for state licensing or getting a group together to lobby for alarm industry interests in Washington, DC, as he did in the mid-1990s when the Telecommunications Act was passed.

Steve Schueren, who now works for InGrid, met Ladd in the early 1980s through the PBFAA. "He was a huge industry advocate--tireless and energetic--who encouraged alarm company owners to pull together for the common good," he said.

As an example of Ladd's character, in the early 1980s, Ladd and Bill Lutz decided to merge their companies, said Matthew Ladd, son of Keith Ladd and current president of The Protection Bureau. "They realized in less than a year that the strategies of the two companies were too different," he said. While they decided to split the companies, they did it equitably and "remained the best of friends ... My father was always the entrepreneur and always the guy who did things right. He instilled that in us," Matthew Ladd said. "If you do things right for the customers, they'll stay with you," he said.

Keith Ladd was born in Newport, Vt., June 11, 1933, and lived in Chester County, Pa. for the past 40 years. He graduated from Dartmouth College where he rowed crew and was a member of the student council.

He also was active in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving as Conference Lay Leader from 1990-1998, and was a member of Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, and served on the board of directors of Handcrafters in Thorndale.

Ladd is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Mary; his children Karen Ladd Baker, J. Matthew Ladd, and Adam H. Ladd; daughters-in-law Mary C. Ladd and Jill B. Ladd; grandchildren Joshua Baker, Zachary Baker, Amanda Ladd, Catherine Ladd, and Madeline Ladd; great-grandaughter Ava Grace Ladd; and brother, Parker B. Ladd.

A service of celebration remembering Keith's life will be held at 2pm on Saturday, March 7, 2009, at Hopewell United Methodist Church, 850 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, Pa. Family and friends are welcome to visit the family starting at 12:30pm. Internment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent in Keith's name to Handicrafters, 215 Barley Sheaf Road, Thorndale, PA 19372, or the Cancer Center of Chester County, 440 E. Marshall Street, Suite 201, West Chester, PA 19380.