CPI Security was started by company owner/president/CEO Ken Gill in 1976. The company's been in the Carolinas since the early '90s and today boasts around 90,000 accounts in a roughly 80/20 resi/commercial mix supported by over 300 employees. The company's footprint is all through the Carolinas and they just recently branched into Georgia.
I'm down here in Charlotte, N.C.—the heart of CPI territory—for the ESX show, which CPI co-hosted. I've never been down to the Carolinas… As a matter of fact the furthest south I've really ever been was a trip one time to visit my former in-laws down in Florida… Oh, and I've been to Rhode Island a few times… Needless to say, the heat, humidity and grits at breakfast have bowled me over.
The tour of CPI's headquarters started with a short bus ride from the Charlotte convention center. We were greeted at the door of CPI by polite, gracious employees and Ken Gill himself. Inside the awesomely air conditioned lobby guests picked up name tags and headed into an adjacent (it looked like it was probably a training room, but the folks at CPI truly transformed it) lounge, complete with excellent food, an open bar and a jazz duo in the corner.
So I haven't had a lot of experience being in the south, but I've been to a few awesome security companies and monitoring centers. CPI has an impressive operation in Charlotte, spread out throughout roughly 50,000 square feet. The monitoring center is CSAA Five Diamond-certified (a process about which I've written extensively and with which I am personally acquainted.), and UL-listed.
Everyone had a chance to mingle and meet, see old friends and colleagues. I had a chance to exchange cards with some industry folks I've spoken with in the past, but never met. Some fellowship, nosh and cold beverage were a nice way to start the tour.
I had a chance to speak briefly with CPI customer care manager John Shocknesse who filled me in on a little of CPI's philosophy.
"We like to put on a good face and be very active in the organizations, CSAA and ESA," Shocknesse told me. "And I think personally it's great to be as engaged as possible with other companies and share ideas and make the industry better."
CPI broke the sold-out group of tourists up into several groups and passed them off to different executive guides who led the separate groups to different areas of the headquarters. Groups passed each other in the halls but never bunched up, felt crowded or got in each others way, and everyone got to see every aspect of the organization, with everyone reconvening in the jazz lounge for another bite and cocktail before heading back to the convention center.
All-told a nice tour with knowledgeable and friendly people who were willing to answer tourist questions and satisfy our curiosity.