Where have all the ADT execs gone?

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12/23/2009
Is it my imagination, or are ex-ADT execs amassing…everywhere? I’ve no sooner posted a story yesterday, an interview with a former high-level ADT exec who is now the president of a big Midwestern super-regional alarm company—Daniel Goldstein of Guardian Alarm in Michigan—when I learn that Jack Feingold, VP of commercial sales at ADT is not longer VP of commercial sales at ADT. Huh? And didn’t I just interview another ex-ADT exec recently? Yup, that was John Tierney, the new COO at super-regional Supreme Security in N.J.

Comments

John Tierney is COO, not CFO. Thanks

Thanks Sue. I corrected John's title in the post.

Industry experience isn't valued at ADT because the senior leaders all come from outside the industry. In this scenario, leaders insulate themselves with a large staff organizations, all also from outside the industry, who then have most direct day-today contact with the field organization and report back to the leader. This is also true at UTC, and it will be interesting to watch the GE Security acquisition, since the GE senior leadership team is largely comprised of people with industry experience.

In fairness, ADT has a huge number of employees (relative to our industry size). Even if people leave ADT at the industry average rate, ADT will have 5 - 20x more ex-employees than other companies simply because of their size. You could make similar points about Pelco, Axis, etc.

I am not making a claim one way or the other but I think ADT's size needs to be factored in to any critique.

Hi John:
That's a very good point. While, I wasn't necessarily trying to critique ADT, I was struck by the fact that I heard of these three ex-ADT guys within what seemed like a very short period of time. Given the size of the company, though, maybe it's not that surprising.

The number of people turning-over is not the issue, it's the quality of the people turning-over, and it would be interesting to compare employee-retention results with customer-retention, sales and financial key indicators to see if there is any correlation between the two.

I agree with John Honovich's comment, when you are the biggest you will have the largest amount of people leaving.
However, I believe there is a lot more to it than that.
The three people Martha mentioned have outstanding performance records and are very well respected leaders at ADT.
David Goldstein's position as President of Guardian is a total loss for ADT and a huge gain for Guardian. I am sure with David Goldstein's talents, Guardian will certainly gain market share against other alarm competitors. Watch out, he will deliver on his promised results and it will impact ADT's business the most in Michigan, Ohio and Canada.
Tony Byerly, President of Stanley Security is another fine example of an outstanding performer from ADT. Tony has taken Stanley Security to a new level and has definitely affected ADT's market share. They continue to impact ADT's business.
ADT learned from these guys, not the other way around.
ADT had better be prepared to lose more great players as they are recruited away by these ex-ADT leaders. There are still some fine leaders left at ADT, the top five executives better figure out how retain these people before they leave too.
Has ADT become so big it has doesn't care about the people, just the results? Has the culture shifted from customer retention to shareholder value? The answer is an easy "yes". They are too big not to.
There is a difference between a senior leadership team with an accounting/ manufacturing mentality and a service oriented, let's grow the business team mentality.
The accounting/ manufacturing mentality demands compliance and results or you are marked for death. All levels of management (scared they are next) threaten their people to get results. The attitude changes from people are our best asset; to these people are replaceable. Just go out and find someone who will create compliance and we will finally create results. Oh, let's create another report to review too. Let's cap bonuses, we are paying too much. Overtime to take care of a customer's faulty alarm system? NO, It costs too much! We have a policy against overtime and a 3 step approval form just in case you want to fight the system! You still need sales growth though.
A service oriented, let's grow the business mentality takes market share from its competitors in a down economy because they care about their customers, employees, and about selling something today. Hiring sales people is about investing for growth, not just a sales expense number. Overtime to take care of a customer's faulty alarm system? Absolutely yes, and can we sell them something else while we are out there? Margins? No we need sales first. What paperwork? Just go out and do it. You must have processes though.
Don't take this the wrong way; there is a need for both business mentalities in any business. Too much of one culture creates an environment where you beat your head against the wall and never feel valued for your contributions. The good leaders that can leave will leave. The others may just wait it out for a few years to see if it will change or if they have 20 years tenure, they just follow the program and stay below the radar. New leadership (who know nothing about the business) will be hired to spread the new and improved culture. They will fire the people who don’t think like they do and they will struggle to get results as they create distrust with the existing employees. The cycle will start over in about 5-7 years.
So why hasn't ADT been awarded the "integrator of the year" in years? Justin asked the right question about comparing employee retention against customer retention and results. It’s hard to do when ADT in its acquisition mode to boost the numbers.
In my personal opinion as an ex-ADT RGM from one of ADT’s largest markets, the current culture at the top is about compliance and process, process, process not the employees and the customers. The ex-ADT leaders will continue to take ADT’s market share but when you are a 4 billion dollar company what’s a few twenty million dollars a year when you are too busy with analysis-paralysis to even notice.
Chad Swain
President
Smartview Electronics

Mr. Swain makes some very good points. ADT runs the risk of being Too Big and Customer are last at times, Thanks J Woods