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Ron Oetjen

PSA-TEC: Integrators on how to adapt and thrive

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—The subtitle for this year’s “State of the Integrator” panel discussion at PSA-TEC was “Adapt or Die.”

Despite the foreboding subtitle, the panelists' outlook was decidedly optimistic ... for some integrators anyway.

Panelists agreed that independent integrators who do not embrace changing technology and update to service-centric business models will not survive, but Jorge Lozano, president of systems integration firm Condortech, pointed out why independent integrators are ideally suited to adapt and thrive.

“We’re nimble … and this is the time for nimble companies,” he said. If you look at government regulations, the threat of cyberhacks and new technology as opportunities, Lozano said, “the horizon looks good.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Bill Bozeman, PSA Security CEO, and included Lozano, Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology, Ron Oetjen, SVP of Securadyne, and Christine Lanning, president of IST. It took place May 5 here, where PSA-TEC is ongoing this week. The event is attended by independent integrators of all sizes, and includes more than 100 classes and panel discussions.

Other speakers agreed with Lozano. Ron Oetjen said Securadyne’s growth strategy involved acquisitions, organic growth and this year the company has invested in a consulting division. However, the company’s growth strategy is not etched in stone: “Leadership is willing to talk about it [the best ways to grow and overcome obstacles] and re-write the book if we need to," Oetjen said.

Christine Lanning said it’s important to realize that top company executives “don’t know it all.” Lanning uses “the collective knowledge base” of information she gathers from a number of sources such as PSA Security, ASIS as well as from groups outside the security industry. She also seeks mentors “who I want to mimic or emulate … that has been extremely helpful to us.”

Bozeman asked the panelists which vertical markets the companies work in and which are the most profitable.  

Subject matter experts are important said Brent Franklin, especially when you’re working in regulated industries. Unlimited Technology “takes a team approach in attacking new business opportunities,” sending out staff members who best understand the particular vertical. Those staff members need to know more than the applicable regulations, he said. “They need to understand who [the customers] are, how the business works, what the challenges are.”

Oetjen said Securadyne “encourages sales teams to become experts in one of the six vertical markets we’ve identified.” In terms of profit margins, Oetjen said the “data center market is the strongest margin-wise” and they have to follow a number of regulations. “Number two is easily power and utility companies. Number three is the oil and gas guys … but that market is the most volatile,” he said. “Everything is tied to the gas price,” he said.

IST works in a lot of verticals including local, county and state government; DOD work; and, top commercial companies in Hawaii.

As a small company, IST relies heavily on manufacturers for required training and certifications, she said. The company has also started to do “lunch-and-learns and user-group meetings [for customers and potential customers]…. where we bring the technology to them.” This gives IST an opportunity to talk to end users and the end users in turn “get invested in the technology and nine times out of ten, they stick with you,” she said.

The most profitable vertical for IST tends to be the large commercial businesses IST works with because they tend to chose an integrator based on expertise rather than price.

Lozano said Condortech’s is really only in one major vertical, government, but that also involves hospitals, education and border security.

Bozeman asked Franklin and Oetjen to talk about the key to delivering novel and unique technology?

Franklin said his team is constantly scouting technology, but it’s important to stay connected to the customer so you “realize what the next steps are with that customer.” Also, “getting the manufacturer involved with the customer is not a bad thing,” he said.

Confronting novel technology is something to think about Oetjen said. “What are we going to do when there’s only one smart camera out there [instead of many]? When one smart camera replaces fire systems because the camera [can detect fire]?” In order to get a customer to “rely on you to deliver a novel solution and trust you to deploy and execute the solution, [the relationship] starts way back … you educate and consult with the customer over time,” he said.

“You prove your thought-leadership,” Oetjen said. “You need to talk to and educate your customer at the same time, not just send invoices and ask, ‘What other camera or door can I do?’”

What about developing a culture of innovation in a company? How should systems integrators go about doing that?

A culture of innovation starts with company leadership, Lanning said.  “Are you showing passion, curiosity, adaptability?”  It’s important to “evaluate yourself and how you come across to your employees.”

Lanning said IST has an all-company meeting every Monday and every third Monday they do a team building or other educational exercise. She also send weekly emails focused on innovation and inspiration to all employees.

Lozano concurred with Lanning saying that we’re on the cusp of a new industrial revolution. Company leaders need to be doers. “Leadership is an action, not a position,” he said.

IAS moves into Cincy, a critical infrastructure 'mecca'

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04/14/2014

CINCINNATI—Setting up shop in this city, with its chemical, power and other critical infrastructure businesses, has been on Intelligent Access Systems’ roadmap for four years, Ron Oetjen, IAS founder and SVP of Securadyne Systems, told Security Systems News.

Securadyne expands in the Heartland

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Intelligent Access Systems—a rapidly growing systems integrator that was acquired by Securadyne in January—has made a move in the Midwest, expanding into Cincinnati and tri-state region (comprising Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana).

IAS employee Kevin Grice has relocated to the area and hired Cincinnati native and industry veteran, Jeremy Brewer.

Securadyne Systems’ branch network is now in more than 15 locations, from Texas to Maine.

Founded by Ron Oetjen in 2004, IAS specializes in integration for critical infrastructure, health care, and higher education vertical markets. Oetjen now serves as SVP of Securadyne Systems

I saw Ron in the serpentine cab line at McCarron last week and asked him about a Twitter comment I’d seen about Jeremy Brewer—but I didn’t have a chance to speak to him at any length at the show. I have a call into Ron to get talk more about this move and to see what else is planned in the next month.

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will Securadyne be the next Convergint?

That’s a possibility, according to Bill Bozeman, CEO of PSA Security. Bozeman has experience building a systems integration firm and knows both of the players in the Securadyne/Intelligent Access Systems deal that was announced yesterday.

In case you missed it, Securadyne, a start-up integrator founded by Carey Boethel and Pamlico Capital in early 2012, yesterday announced that it has acquired Ron Oetjen’s company, Intelligent Access Systems, one of the most successful and fastest growing regional integrators in the country. Here’s the a link to the story.

I talked to Bozeman today about the deal. He offered his opinion of the union and also discussed the stages of growth for integration companies—and the new challenges that come along with those different stages.

“I know both guys [Carey and Ron] well very well. They’re both PSA Security equity partners and owners. The consolidation, from our perspective, appears to be a good solid one. Carey is building a hell of a company with Securadyne; it looks to be the next Convergint, [and] congratulations to him [for that],” Bozeman said. Convergint is not a member of the PSA Security flock, but Bozeman praised [Convergint Technologies' CEO Dan Moceri] for building a very solid company.

Bozeman identified three growth-stage milestones for integration companies and the specific challenges that arise when companies grow past a certain stage.  Those milestones occur when a company reaches: A.) $3 to $5 million in revenue; B.) $10 - $15 million in revenue, and C.) $50 million in revenue.  

To get to $3 to $5 million in revenues you need to be a strong, entrepreneurial company, but to become a larger company, “You can no longer do everything yourself. You have to have a management team to help you with sales, technical and finance decisions,” he said. “This is a stage that a lot of companies can’t or don’t want to get past,” he said. The reason? They may be happy making a nice living and being the entrepreneur in charge, Bozeman said.

The next stage of growth hits when a company is doing $10 to $15 million in revenue. “They normally have more than one office and they need infrastructure. To get to the next level you need to hire well paid management people, and that can put a strain on profits of a company unless they’re well financed, which is unusual for most integration companies, or if they have a solid RMR model,” Bozeman explained. He also noted that Ron Oetjen had already successfully moved IAS past this stage.  

The third stage of growth is at around $50 million. “That’s when you really start to need a CEO and a senior management team made up of VPs that are experienced and are well paid,” Bozeman said.   

“Carey has already been president of Netversant and Siemens. He’s the ideal guy [to shepherd this company along] because he already knows what it’s like to run a company that’s $70 to $100 million or $200 million and beyond [in revenues],” Bozeman said.

“Carey’s a polished, senior level business guy who’s experienced on the large corporate side as well as on the entrepreneurial side. … And with Ron he’s got a super field general  [who brings with him] a strong middle-management team. Put that with Carey’s existing team and you have a nice equation for further success.”

Bozeman said it’s very important that Securadyne has a financial partner that knows the security business. “That’s an advantage,” he said. Pamlico Capital is a $2 billion Charlotte, N.C.-based middle-market private equity group. Pamlico was an investor in Sonitrol, but exited when that company was sold to Stanley Works in 2008.
Not all capital partners understand the security integration business, Bozeman noted.

Of course, Bozeman said, growing a national integration company is not an easy thing to do. “The proof will be in the pudding.”

Securadyne acquires Intelligent Access Systems

Startup integrator now has revenues of $70 million and 300 employees
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01/07/2014

CARROLLTON, Texas—Securadyne Systems took a giant step toward becoming a national integrator with the acquisition, announced today, of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS), one of the most successful and rapidly growing regional integrators in the country.

The "haves and have-nots of security integration companies"

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PSA TEC is in full swing. The action started on Sunday night, but I arrived late on Monday. Yesterday I spent the day (Tuesday) talking to PSA Security integrators and members and attending four different educational sessions.

I attended the State of the Industry panel, moderated by PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman and featuring a large group of integrators and industry experts; a discussion on Big Data, Business Resiliency and Physical Security moderated by Chris Peckham of Kratos; a session on security finance moderated by Bozeman; and a session on how to adopt managed services, moderated by Sharon Shaw, of Integrators Support.

These folks covered a lot of ground. I’ll be writing more in-depth stories on some of the topics covered, but below are some highlights from the day.

Haves and have-nots

Bozeman started the first session of the day quoting Imperial Capital’s Jeff Kessler, who in a recent report wrote that increasingly the world of systems integration is dominated by the "haves" and the "have-nots." The "have" have an RMR base, are making a good margin on jobs, and are profitable. The have-nots have not moved into managed services and are surviving on installation revenue. Bozeman agreed with Kessler, recommended all read his report, and spent a great deal of time in this session and others talking about how all PSA Security integrators can join the "haves."

Know your verticals
Phil Aronson of Aronson Security Group, Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access, and Eric Yunag of Dakota Security all said “deep focus” on your vertical markets is key. Yunag, whose Dakota Security is growing rapidly, said that his company made a strategic misstep 7 or 8 years ago when it decided to expand outside of the financial vertical. Banks are something that Dakota had grown to know very very well. The mistake the company made was not the fact that it expanded outside of that vertical, but it did so without the focus and understanding of other verticals.

The message from integrators on the panel was this: Focusing on different verticals is good, but get to know them. And don't delve into too many. How many verticals should an independent integrator focus on? Three, most agreed.

Mad about channel conflict? Look within
Another topic that came up was the problem of channel conflict and manufacturers going direct to end users. Jim Henry of Kratos, said it’s important for systems integrators to remember that manufacturers who go direct to end users fail. However, he noted, “it’s important that and end user sees you as a value, not a middleman making a margin.” Yunag added that if an end user is going direct in your coverage area “that’s your failure as a systems integrator.” You need to know what’s happening in your region, and if this kind of stuff happens take a look at your own organization.

Government Opportunity
Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, was banging the drum about the opportunity for integrators who want to do business with the federal government. Despite sequestration and budget problems, money is in the pipeline for K-12 projects, ports, transportation. “Consider the GSA Schedule program, it’s a very effective contract vehicle for doing business with the federal government.”

How to build an effective business?
During the State of the Industry, Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access Systems broke it down this way: hire the right people and focus on your strategic plan.  Later, during a finance educational session that got pretty granular about how to make your business attractive to buyers, Kratos’ Jim Henry said that the businesses that he’s attracted to are the ones that are not for sale, the ones with a “clear vision and a mission.”

Boston bombing and video surveillance
In the aftermath of the Newtown gun massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing, Yunag said that now is a “significant watershed for our industry and the services we provide … in the next five to ten years, the way video surveillance is used will change,” he predicted.  The general public has seen, particularly with Boston, how video surveillance can be useful. Jim Henry said that the incident clearly demonstrated how video can be used for “actionable intelligence and business intelligence.” Further, he said, it's important to note that the ability to find the suspect was not because the camera in question was a certain quality or manufacturer,  but because it was a “well positioned camera installed by a professional.” This horrific event showed the world how video can be used, Yunag said, and it's incumbent on integrators now to have those conversations with law enforcement and others about how they can best take advantage of video and other physical security offerings to help prevent and detect situations like these.

There are many more highlights that I’ll report on later, now I need to get to the conference.

The PSIM potential

Critical infrastructure, regulated environments and big companies concerned about reputation and brand are projected to drive adoption of PSIM
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09/04/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—If you are a vendor or integrator of PSIM systems, the chances are good that you consider this to be an exciting time in the security industry. And the chances also are excellent that, regardless of your expertise and experience, your views on PSIM market trends will be challenged by others in the field.

IAS branching out in Charlotte

CEO Oetjen says he's got 'the right person, the right opportunity and the right city'
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06/13/2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Intelligent Access Systems, a PSA Security integrator, is opening its sixth office here this month.
 

Intelligent Access Systems creating new software

Bolt-on software is designed for regulated industries
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10/27/2011

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Intelligent Access Systems in September hired a VP of IT, Mike Baranski, whose first project is to oversee the creation of new access control software for regulated industries.

Advice from PSA-TEC 2011: Embrace change

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05/26/2011

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—What’s the biggest challenge for independent integrators today? According to Bill Bozeman, “it’s not the need to learn the latest and greatest technology,” and it’s not learning how to sell better or more efficiently. Rather, it’s understanding how to run and adapt their business models so they can run profitable businesses.