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SSN Interview with Bert Bongard, President and CEO, LVC Companies

SSN Interview with Bert Bongard, President and CEO, LVC Companies

Bert BongardYARMOUTH, Maine—It has been quite a year for LVC Companies and its President and CEO, Bert Bongard.

The Minneapolis-based full-service security technology provider celebrated its 40th anniversary of protecting and connecting customers with state-of-the-art technologies including fire protection, fire alarms and life safety, security solutions, structured cabling/infrastructure, audio-visual (A/V), distributed antenna systems (DAS) and emergency communications.

In addition, LVC was recognized by Security Systems News and PSA Security Network earlier this year by becoming the inaugural winner of the Bill Bozeman Award for Integrator of the Year.

As we stated in presenting the Bill Bozeman Award, LVC was chosen because it “has long been a driving force in the security industry. The organization is focused on providing industry-leading security systems technology, customer-tailored solutions, and excellence in service,” along with the numerous charitable causes that LVC is involved with, participation in numerous industry associations, committees, and boards, as well as encouraging diversity and the ability to attract top talent.

In this exclusive interview, Bongard talks with SSN about what it means for LVC to be named the first Bill Bozeman Award winner, what has contributed to LVC’s success in the integrator community for 40 years, and what his vision is for the company going forward.  

LVC CompaniesSSN: Congratulations on LVC Companies becoming the first PSA Security Network and Security Systems News’ (SSN) Integrator of the Year and Bill Bozeman Award winner. Looking back on it now, how does it feel being the first winner of this award?0

Bongard: On behalf of my LVC family we are extremely honored. I want to thank PSA, Security Systems News, and most of all, Bill Bozeman, for setting the high standard for our industry, and for recognizing LVC as the very first winner of this prestigious award.

SSN: Please provide a little history about LVC, as well as your own background with the company.

Bongard: LVC was founded in July of 1982, primarily focusing on the fire alarm industry. LVC entered the security market in 1994 and through great customers we also began performing work nationally. We expanded into the Arizona market in 2009.  We added structured cabling services in 2011 and a fire sprinkler division in 2015. In 2016 we purchased J.N. Johnson Fire protection and in 2017 we purchased Champion Fire. In July of 2017 we rebranded from Low Voltage Contractors to LVC Companies, to better reflect the scope of our business and services. We began making additional investments to our National Security Division, Technical Services and Managed Services Groups.

In 2020 we continued our growth, and we purchased Commercial Fire and Security. Over the past three years we have also invested heavily in our training and continue our growth and expansion of LVC’s technologies and best in class service and support. We are continually investing in our people and divisions while utilizing our industry partners, organizations, and manufacturers. As of now LVC has grown to 32 profit centers with offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

I joined LVC in July of 2011. At that time, I had over 20 years of technical, management and industry ownership experience. I was recruited by the executives at LVC to use my experience of building growth to expand services and offerings at LVC. I chose LVC because the company and executive team had a great reputation in the industry, and I saw great potential in growth. I was fortunate with my relationships I had built in my career and within the industry. This proved essential as many people followed me to LVC.

The executive team produced and supported my initiatives, and the growth came soon after. Because of that support, success soon followed and internal opportunities were presented to me. From mid-2011 until January 2017 I was promoted several times to eventual President/CEO in January 2017. As my path developed, I focused on department initiatives and empowering staff. This also provided growth internally for other coworkers and internal promotions. This, along with other company initiatives, dedicated staff, and our history of employee advancement, have proven very effective in culture and success.

SSN: LVC is celebrating its 40-year anniversary this year. Can you talk about what that means to you and for the company?

Bongard: It’s a source of pride for all of us to be part of a team that has stood the test of time for four decades as a trusted partner and service provider. Our employee and customer longevity have been our greatest strength and success. We are more than just a company. As I like to say, we are a family, we are LVC.

SSN. What is LVC’s vision, and what are the core values that guide your company?

We believe that our mission, vision, and values sum up who we are, what we stand for, and why we merited consideration for this award.

Mission: To be an industry-leading technology systems company, providing protection and integrated solutions for commercial, industrial, and institutional applications.

Vision: To achieve continued growth and profitability in a responsible fashion through our strong culture of employee and customer longevity. Our commitment to excellence starts with dedicated employees, state-of-the-art technology offerings, employee training and development, while continually providing the highest level of quality, integrity, and customer service.

Core Values:
1. Quality ‐ We provide only the best and deliver unmatched results.
2. Integrity ‐ We act fairly and honestly in all aspects of our business.
3. Passion ‐ We have a strong and constant desire to be the best in all we do.
4. Service Excellence – We earn customer satisfaction by providing quick, accurate and courteous service every time.
5. Safety ‐ We ensure the right training, tools and resources are used to safeguard our employees and clients.
6. Innovation ‐ Through research and training we pursue new and creative ideas that keep us on the leading edge of technology.
7. Community ‐ We operate with a sense of responsibility and contribute to the communities we serve.
8. Teamwork – We focus on a positive work environment that encourages open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect.

SSN: When selecting the Bill Bozeman Award winner, it was noted that LVC had impressive growth (up 12 percent since 2021 and 75 percent since 2013), diversity of security offerings and balanced revenue streams across multiple markets. Can you talk about what factors have contributed to LVC’s tremendous growth as an integrator over the last 10 years?

Bongard: Our internal and external initiatives have continued to build our positive employee culture and strengthen relationships with the customers we serve. These include strategic acquisitions, product and service expansions, internal promotions, staff training, community involvement and appreciation efforts, and more.

SSN: Are there any other “Wow!” numbers you would like to share with our readers?

Bongard: Since 2011 we have seen our annual revenue grow from $13.5 million to $58 million by year-end 2021.

SSN: Please talk about the role that employees play in the success of your company, as well as what LVC does to support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the ability to attract diverse young talent to the integrator community.

Bongard: Employees are the backbone of LVC and drive our success. All staff - in every aspect of operations, from sales and service to installers and technicians to administrative support - know their efforts are appreciated and play a critical role in supporting their LVC family members and driving our success.

Throughout their careers, LVC employees are valued, treated like family, offered opportunities for advancement, and rewarded for their loyal service and providing LVC customers with exceptional experiences. LVC fosters a strong team atmosphere and culture of pride in protecting and connecting those we serve. Employee appreciation for these efforts is reflected in their culture, loyalty, and length of service. In 2022, a full 10 percent of our 265 employees will have more than 20 years of service, over 21 percent will have a decade or more on the job, and 45 percent will have five years or more with LVC.

We are very proud of our diversity. We work closely with recruiters and educate them on our culture and desire to expand our diversity. Job postings carefully worded for inclusion and to attract a diverse pool of candidates are posted on more than 50 websites/job service listings. Our partner organizations and unions are also working hard to expand diversity wherever possible. We have diversity across all departments within our organization. As a result, LVC enjoys a diverse workforce and offers all employees equal opportunities to advance their careers and participate in the company’s successes.

SSN: LVC’s community efforts were another key factor in winning the Bill Bozeman Award. Please talk about your company’s efforts to give back to the local communities, including working with charities, local chambers, and business groups.

Bongard: From our corporate headquarters to regional branch offices, LVC Companies has a proud history of giving back to our local communities. We are active and involved in charities, local chambers, and business groups. 2021 marked the 22nd year that I and LVC supported the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) across four states. Their mission is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families. In our 2021 holiday charity campaign alone, LVC employee and corporate matching donations fueled the purchase of more than $24,000 in gifts for families staying with RMHC while battling life-threatening health conditions. LVC also supports the Angel Fund, which provides financial assistance to Minnesota residents battling cancer. LVC is also involved and highly supportive of groups serving the armed forces, veterans and first responders.

SSN: LVC is heavily involved with industry associations including PSA Security Network, NECA, ASIS and ASHE. Can you talk about the importance of associations to the integrator community?

Bongard: LVC Companies has long been a driving force in the security industry. Our focus is providing industry-leading security systems technology, customer-tailored solutions, and excellence in service. We have been extremely active participants in industry associations including PSA Security Network, NECA, ASIS and ASHE. We have multiple people on committees and board level involvement. LVC has also helped produce resources designed to help the integrator community. These include a sales playbook, marketing guide, guest video training, product evaluation tool, training video, and guest contributions on the PSA Blog and in trade publications.

LVC also makes team members available to the integrator community. We are frequently contacted by integrators across the country when they need assistance in solving technical or operational issues. We provide support and resources and serve as a partner to the community, helping them be more successful. LVC experts are also active in educating and sharing information with customers, organizations, engineers, architects, trade groups and community chambers to advance the cause of improved security for all.

As the security industry has changed, LVC's technology focus has intensified. The company has and continues to work with industry partners to push the development and adoption of cutting-edge products and hi-tech yet user-friendly security offerings. Examples include multi-sensor cameras, remote managed services, cybersecurity, cloud-based video surveillance solutions, system health monitoring, advanced AI access control and analytics, biometrics, smartphone credentialing, and more.

LVC has been expanding and continually investing in our national footprint, which today includes a network of more than 500 vetted installation and support providers. Our service department offers comprehensive services as well and continues to expand with offerings in active on-going maintenance, specialty programs in cyber security, cloud services and AI, to provide complete solutions. We continue building our relationships and strive to provide peace of mind for our clients that we are “true partners” in keeping their assets safe and secure.

LVC also supports industry education programs including the Minnesota and Wisconsin Joint Apprenticeship Training Centers (JATCs). The JATC is a joint venture between the IBEW union and the National Electrical Contractors Association, to which we belong. The JATC is a three-year educational classroom and hands-on program that provides workers debt-free education, which includes security, life safety and communication technical training while providing full-time employment. As a testament to LVC’s hiring standards and employee commitment to success, LVC Companies journeyman installer Scot Collmann was named Minnesota Statewide Limited Energy JATC Class of 2022 Outstanding Apprentice. This marks the sixth time an LVC employee has claimed winner or runner-up honors in the last five years!

SSN: What is your vision for the company going forward, in terms of achieving continued growth and profitability?   

Bongard: The vision is to continue to grow responsibly, organically, and through acquisitions. This only happens if the entire team remains focused, supports each other, and believes in the plan. We see tremendous opportunity for growth and sustainability with our national division and our RMR and managed services initiatives. We have dedicated people continually looking and refining our processes and procedures and training is a high priority.

SSN: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Bongard: We continually strive to maintain a healthy and safe workforce and these efforts have been recognized with the Minnesota Governor’s safety award 12 times since 2007. Numerous employees hold industry and technical training certifications, ranging from NICET, BICSI, and Design to numerous manufacturer accreditations.

We have been fortunate to represent many great manufacturers, and, in the process, we have achieved many awards and recognitions over the years. These include the­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Bill Bozeman Integrator of the Year from the PSA Security Network and Security Systems News (SSN), 12 Minnesota Governor’s Safety Awards, NECA’s Safety Excellence and Zero Injury awards, multiple Honeywell Diamond of Excellence and Million Dollar awards, ANSUL Double Diamond and Honeywell’s Community Service Awards. 


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