By Heather Klotz-Young, SDM Magazine
September 2, 2014
Strategic partnerships are key to growing a successful business, yet initiating and then maintaining those business relationships takes time and money. SecurityXchange, Eagan, Minn., is an event that helps integrators and solutions providers efficiently and affordably establish partnerships where both parties gain business or strengthen existing relationships while finding new technology solutions. The 13th annual SecurityXchange was held in Park City, Utah, in August.
During the two-day event, strategic sales meetings, new product discussions, business growth opportunities, education and networking all drove relationships forward. Top-level executives from systems integration firms were paired with solutions providers for up to 20 focused meetings. Additional networking opportunities were available throughout the days of the event during the breakfasts, lunches, cocktail parties and dinners. That’s a lot of opportunities to create and sustain partnerships and find new solutions, which is SecurityXchange’s goal when setting up the meetings during the event.
“We go deep, learn each organization’s challenges and each provider’s solutions, and then we bring the two parties together for substantive, strategic discussions,” described Greg Geisler, chief executive officer (CEO) of VerticalXchange, the parent company of SecurityXchange.
“We feel the SecurityXchange experience is built on relationships, not just transactions,” Geisler said. He emphasized the event has been helping develop strategic partnerships over the past 13 years because of the focused environment it provides.
The value of getting decision-makers together without distractions is invaluable, echoed Paul Thomas, president, Northland Control Systems Inc., Freemont Calif.
“It is rare and difficult to get the key executives on the supplier side to spend time with us at our office; if they are in town it is usually not for strategically building our relationship and mutual business. If I visit them at industry trade shows they are very time-constrained and distracted. SecurityXchange allows both of us the time and venue to focus on each other,” Thomas observed.
Mike Jobrey is vice president of operations for The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa., which has attended the event for a decade.
“SecurityXchange is an event where we’ve formed many partnerships that have been successful over the years,” Jobrey shared with SDM’s Senior Editor, Heather Klotz-Young, who attended the event. SDM and Security Magazines are the media partners for SecurityXchange.
Barry Willingham, president, Ameristar Perimeter Security USA Inc., a Tulsa, Okla.-based company that produces high-quality steel and aluminum fences and gates and vehicle barriers used in commercial and residential security markets, calls discovering the SecurityXchange event “good fortune.” Since then, the company has participated annually for the last 12 years.
“The greatest benefit we realized were the relationships we developed every year dating all the way back to the beginning. This has created a network of integrator, supplier, and client partnerships that would have been nearly impossible to create any other way, resulting in millions in sales revenue. The trust and respect among the attendees of this event sets the stage to create true partnerships, marrying technology and client requirements that serve end-use clients in a fashion few companies ever experience,” Willingham said.
The unique format of SecurityXchange is the key to developing true partnerships, Carole Dougan, vice president, North American Sales, Arecont Vision, told SDM.
Why? Both parties are given profiles to review and then arrange pre-meeting phone calls in advance of the event to establish the objectives for both sides. “This process ensures the foundation for a successful and highly productive set of meetings at SecurityXchange,” Dougan explained. “The networking meals further serve to solidify rapport among systems integrators, end users, consultants and manufacturers. SecurityXchange truly has one of the most professionally managed processes and yields some of the best results out of all events of this type where Arecont Vision participates,” she added.
A popular annual event is the Integrator Roundtable, where peers gather together and share best practices and answers to today’s pressing issues. This year’s event was moderated by John Nemerofsky, president and CEO of Xentry Systems Integration, Columbus, Ohio. Three key issues were tighter margins, navigating the collaboration of security and IT on major projects, and finding or creating an IP-savvy workforce. Check www.SDMmag.com for a podcast with insight from leading integrators on these roundtable topics.
The Protection Bureau, ranked No. 43 on SDM’s Top Systems Integrators Report, is addressing the challenge of creating an IP-savvy workforce with a new program that offers voluntary training after-hours, once or twice a month. It started as “invitation only” with a group of installers that showed high potential to be trained and advance, but it has turned into an anticipated event where people actually ask how they can become a part of it, Jobrey shared. “We found out we had a handful of talented, driven technicians that we would have missed who had the desire and work ethic to grow in IP capabilities,” Jobrey shared.
When starting IT-heavy projects, Jim Henry, executive vice president, Public Safety and Security, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions Inc., San Diego, sees his company playing the role of matchmaker.
“We are in a good position of bringing the two together by not adding undo risk to the IT manager while not undoing the value of the security provider,” he explained. “Most importantly, the technician who is IT qualified is always the one who goes in first. If you send the wrong guy to the first meeting you are done. Sending your best guy gives immediate credibility,” Henry said.
Thomas sees the industry as well past the “collision” stage with IT. “Our industry is now in IT,” he emphasized. “Every access control and video device has an RJ45 jack on it and is using the corporate network as a backbone. I think being part of the IT community is a great thing; it opens up collaboration with the logical side of the industry and will provide new avenues of opportunities for the integration companies that embrace it,” he said.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for success with IT, according to Brad Wilson, president, RFI Communications and Security Systems, San Jose, Calif., which has attended SecurityXchange the last 13 years — every year since SecurityXchange was founded. Wilson also is on the advisory board.
“We always mindfully get the temperature of the room. Is it collaborative off the bat or combative? Choose your approach based on that,” Wilson advised. “Being in Silicon Valley IT will challenge us at the beginning to make sure we understand networking and infrastructure, so RFI adds resources to those projects to bridge any tension with IT and establish credibility right away,” he said.
That thoughtful approach goes a long way to establishing a good relationship and, consequentially, a profitable project. The same thoughtfulness is undertaken by SecurityXchange to create and maintain meaningful partnerships that impact business success. Find out more at: www.verticalxchange.com/security-xchange.
Read the original article in SDM Magazine.