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New PSA CEO Matt Barnette comes full circle

New PSA CEO Matt Barnette comes full circle Barnette returns to his integrator roots as he takes over from longtime PSA CEO Bill Bozeman

WESTMINSTER, Colo.—Security Systems News caught up with new PSA CEO Matt Barnette to talk about the incredible opportunity and challenge it is to be taking over at PSA with the retirement of SSN Security Legend Bill Bozeman, who has been leading PSA successfully for nearly 20 years.

SSN: You have some pretty big shoes to fill taking over as CEO following security legend Bill Bozeman. As a New York native I know you can appreciate the sports analogy that it is like taking over for Derek Jeter at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

BARNETTE: [laughs] I am from Yonkers, New York, so [I can relate] yes! I have had the good fortune of working closely with Bill over the years, especially when I was with AMAG going back 15 years, and I really admire and respect the things that he has done as CEO, not only saving PSA – when he joined they were in somewhat financial trouble – but to really putting them in a very powerful place in the industry today.

So, yes, I have very big shoes to fill, not only in Bill’s status as an industry ambassador but also in helping the PSA company and community continue to grow and thrive in these crazy economic times. It certainly won’t be easy but I am confident in the team of people here at PSA and the quality of the membership. The fact that Bill is going to be around for awhile and helping during the transition is really key to making sure things go smoothly.

SSN: Having started in the integration space almost 30 years ago, you’ve kind of come full circle, right?

BARNETTE: Yes, it is a bit of a return to my roots. This almost sounds corny, but my first job out of college was as a network administrator for a systems integrator in Northern California in the Silicon Valley area, and they were a PSA member. So, my first business trip was to a PSA event back in 1992 and I remember it being a high-quality event; it was great to hear from integrators from across the nation.

As you know, the majority of my career I have worked for manufacturers like AMAG, Mercury, and now HID, but none of this technology gets installed without the integration market, which provides a very valuable piece of the puzzle to make all of this work. So I am excited to be back and working closely with the integration channel and helping navigate PSA during these unprecedented times with what’s going on with COVID. I also look forward to helping members with the technology changes in the industry and making sure that PSA is representing the best products and bringing those products and solutions to our members, which translates to the end users themselves.

SSN: Can you discuss your short- and long-term goals as CEO?

BARNETTE: This is only my first week here but at first I think the key is to ask a lot of questions and listen, not only to the employees of PSA, but especially to the members, the board of directors, and to others who are not part of PSA to get their perspective – get a full review of the status of things and what people think, which can be incredibly valuable for me. There is a lot of inherent intelligence out there in the industry, so what can PSA be doing to be a support mechanism to ensure the integrators success?

PSA does not try to be everything to everyone; we are focused on high quality integrators in mostly North America, with some international presence, but there hasn’t been a clear focus on that [growing outside North America], so long-term we see that as an area to expand further. Plus, with the acquisition of USAV, and the pro-AV business, we are looking at what we can do to expand the footprint on that side as well.

And with the technology changes, making sure that PSA is representing the products not only that people will be asking for now, such as with the big uptick in thermal cameras due to COVID, but what’s next? So, making sure that we are bringing those products to members so they are educated, have access to and can get trained on the products that customers are going to need now and in the future; it is about building those relationships with the product vendors and making sure the fit and finish, so to speak – the quality and cybersecurity profile of the products – meets the standards for PSA members. We also can’t be everything to everyone on the product side and need to focus attention on the products that can make a difference for integrators.

SSN: I like that you have both the integrator perspective as well as the perspective from the supplier side, especially with your experience there in the trenches of access control.

BARNETTE: Part of the attraction for me with this position was really having visibility and access to products in a wider berth than just access control, so the partnerships in video, audio and intrusion-type products and other areas are important. The evolution of AI technology, for example, and what that means to security and the different market segments. Part of our job here at PSA is to help remove fact from fiction on some of the new products that are being introduced, so that is an important function for us.

The key is helping evaluate what our members need to be thinking about to stay viable three, five, 10 years down the road. Bill has been a big proponent of managed- and hosted services and certainly the pandemic has increased the need for those products in the market. I know a lot of [end user] customers do not have a lot of people in the office with many working remote so they don’t want a lot of equipment in the office that has to be maintained, so having solutions that can be done via the cloud, for example, whether it is a mobile or browner-based app, is a big advantage and the companies that I have seen in that space have experienced tremendous growth even during this pandemic timeframe. Having the forethought to bring this type of thought leadership to the membership – Bill has been out front with that. There is still a long way to go [with managed services] but it is accelerating and gaining velocity.

On the cybersecurity piece, I feel the industry is still in the early throes of taking cybersecurity seriously, whether they are providing cybersecurity capabilities, or just making sure the products are selling from manufacturers who take cybersecurity seriously. We need to up our game, especially with the stories we are seeing recently on a national scale, so we need to be concerned about the products our customers are using.  

SSN: Can you talk about the impact COVID has had on the way PSA members do business?

BARNETTE: We have some members who have done exceptionally well and pivoted to make sure they are staying financially viable, providing other products and services that they may not have been deeply involved in previously, while others have had their business impacted. The SMB space market has been the most impacted during this time as people are not going to the office and spending money on security upgrades as they have other things to think about, whereas the enterprise space and the education space, for example, were taking advantage of that time with no one in the building to do security upgrades and projects, and I am sure there was government funding that was used for that as well.

There has been an uptick in some of that business but we will see if that changes going forward. I think we may be in for a bit of a slowdown in that sector of the security market, so it is important that members are finding where the money is being spent -- and that our members are going after the right type of work. Some areas like hospitals have been hit hard while other areas are growing and expanding and security is taking precedence to make sure people aren’t getting into places they shouldn’t be in these types of lock-downs. So there is work out there and overall it hasn’t impacted the PSA numbers, but there is still vulnerability in 2021 to what can happen to the economy.

We have to be optimistic that with the vaccine out that things will gradually improve here, although probably at a slower clip than we had expected six months ago. Hopefully by the end of 2021 we will be looking out at the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

SSN: Any decisions on PSA TEC, which is planned for May in Denver, Colo.?

BARNETTE: PSA TEC will most likely be a hybrid event with some in-person training and other functions and some remote option for those who don’t feel comfortable traveling. But, if it turns out things are in much better shape come May, we can pivot to more on site, but just by necessity there will some form of onlne elements moving forward.


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