‘Traditional’ family business adapts, prospers in changing climate

Holmes Security Systems sees residential accounts grow
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.—On the heels of a busy and accolades-filled year, family-run and century-old Holmes Security Systems looks forward to an aggressive 2015.                    

Over the past year, the company, with 63 employees, “aggressively tried to get ahead of the curve” and transferred all of its customers from 2G, Stephen H. Wheeler, president of the security installation and central station monitoring company, told Security Systems News.

It also updated accounting and central station systems. Next year, it will put a focus on marketing new technologies, such as Honeywell’s Connected Home, and expansion, he said.

“We are looking for companies in North Carolina that might want to partner or merge with us. If those opportunities rise, we’ll move in that direction,” he said, noting that the company has never been into big acquisitions.

At the recent Honeywell Connect2014 conference for its authorized dealers, Holmes Security Systems won a top achievement award for "best all around" performance. It was Holmes’ fifth Circle of Excellence award in seven years. Criteria include strong business practices and strong customer service.

Holmes, a division of Holmes Electric Inc., also was recently honored as Business of the Year by the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and as the Fayetteville Observer’s Readers’ Choice Award winner for best home security company.

“We’re just a small family business. We are more of a traditional company, surviving in this changing world, adapting to new technology, adapting to what consumers want,” Wheeler said.

Commercial accounts historically have been a larger part of its business, but in the past five years or so residential accounts have made up half, he said. By the end of next year he expects his accounts will be 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial. He declined to comment on the company’s RMR and revenue.

Holmes Security’s current offerings in its eastern North Carolina territory range from basic entry-level systems to “the most comprehensive technology available,” including Connected Home.

Wheeler, whose grandfather, an electrical contractor, started the business in 1908, is the third-generation leader of the company. His son, Luke, is now employed at the company in sales, Wheeler said.

The security systems part of the business got off the ground in 1967.

“We have seen it all, from systems that were all hard-wired and ran on batteries to now everything that is wireless with the latest technology,” Wheeler said. “With iPhones and iPads and [others] controlling things remotely, we have embraced all of those changes through the years.

“We love a customer who wants a lot,” he said.

Holmes opened its second office in Wilmington in 2000.

“We went against the trend of buying other companies, we just expanded our own,” he said. “That’s been very good for us.”