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40 under 40: Oscar Merlo, COMBS Consulting Group

40 under 40: Oscar Merlo, COMBS Consulting Group

40 under 40: Oscar Merlo, COMBS Consulting Group

YARMOUTH, Maine—Oscar Merlo is a studio designer. It’s not for aspiring artists or musicians; it’s for his clients’ security needs.

As Security Studio Designer for COMBS Consulting Group based in San Antonio, Texas, Merlo is a security system consultant who works with architects and clients in specifying and designing security systems (video surveillance, access control, intrusion) for new construction projects or renovations.

“We provide years of security experience in identifying best practices and industry-standard solutions that will fit the clients’ security needs,” he told Security Systems News.

Merlo, 36, has served in his current role at COMBS for one-and-a-half years. He

started in the security industry almost nine years ago as general electronics apprentice at a large school district in Texas, assisting technicians in troubleshooting fire, clock, sound, and burglar alarm systems.

“Out of all these systems I worked on, I found the security systems to be the most fulfilling because of the challenges it presented on a daily basis involving a variety of devices that required troubleshooting and maintenance,” he noted. “I always found myself the busiest working on these systems, and I really invested a lot of my time trying to learn more about it. It felt rewarding to come home and know that the work I put in made schools and the students in them safer and more secure.”

PoE Devices and Cloud-Based Solutions

Merlo pointed out that one of the top trends in the security industry today is an increasing interest in PoE [Power over Ethernet] devices, particularly in access control.

“Security systems have increasingly become more and more network based, prompting clients to place their IT/network administrators in charge of their security systems,” he said. “With more and more PoE devices on the market, security panels may soon shift being rack mounted with their own dedicated network’s patch panels and switches.”

He also noted that cloud-based solutions are the “most exciting” security technology right now because “it offers the same benefits of most industry standard systems on the markets today, without the need to stand up an expensive server/data center infrastructure.

“While the pricing models for most of these systems are a little high for large enterprise customers at the moment, smaller businesses and clients with reduced or budget-restricted manpower can avoid the headache of having to hire someone to manage servers and only focus on having the personnel in place to manage the security devices, leaving those duties and responsibilities to a qualified third party.”

Keys to Success

Merlo offered some sound advice on how to be successful, both personally and in business, during these challenging times.

“Find your niche in something and make it yours,” he stated. “Make yourself indispensable by applying everything you have learned up until this point and continue improving on it. When I started working on burglar alarm systems, I knew nothing about them, so I opened every manual I could find on the devices on worked on and read them. No matter what the job or industry you work in, make sure that you put a quality of work that you can be proud of.”  

In addition, Merlo stressed the importance of integration and connectivity, in regard to the security industry moving forward.

“There will always be a need for security systems and solutions, and with it, more and more systems will become integrated and connected,” he explained. “I feel confident that the industry too will become more and more connected with other systems and look forward to learning more about them.”

Early Training

A focus on early training for a career in the security industry is essential to recruit talented young people, according to Merlo.

“There is a need for security everywhere you go, whether it’s security cameras, access control doors, lockdown drills, etc., he said. “People need to know early on what those devices are for and how necessary they are. Provide more schooling and training in those fields to guide those interested. As things become more network based, there may also be an overlap of people who’ve studied to be network administrators/technicians, etc., who can be redirected to the security industry.”


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