SDM celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, marked by the January 1971 inaugural issue. The first editor, Walter Matthews, wrote in the inaugural edition,“Magazines are usually born when a need for them exists, and they die when they are no longer needed. How successful they are between birth and death depends entirely upon how well they fill that need.”
SDM, whose formal name was Security Distributing & Marketing, was a start-up by Los Angeles-based Security World Publishing. It was an offshoot of Security World magazine which now is known as SECURITY and is still part of SDM’s family. The first edition of SDM was 32 pages in length, but included advertisements from 32 companies — indeed demonstrating that security was on the verge of becoming a full-fledged industry.
SDM seemed to immediately resonate with alarm installers, distributors and manufacturers. Topics throughout the 1970s covered technologies of the day: ultrasonic and microwave detectors; later, photoelectric detectors and the first PIR; window foil; later, the more advanced shock sensors for application on glass; pressure mats and under-carpet tape switch; and alarm controls and tape dialers; later, digital alarm communicators.
Editors wrote about UL standards and certification; the activities of NBFAA (now ESA) and SEIA (now SIA), and the need for the industry to find a way to get products from manufacturer to installing dealer a lot faster — thus spawning the advent of the specialty alarm distributor. Towards the end of the 1970s, SDM’s writers began to discuss not only changes in the technologies being used by installers, but changes in the market, too. Residential sales were developing into a huge opportunity. The digital communicator had opened up the possibility for third-party central stations to provide a service to installers who could get into the alarm business with very little startup costs.
In mid-1979, Security World Publishing was acquired by Reed Holdings Inc., and published monthly by the Chicago division of Cahners Publishing Co. It was the end of one era and the beginning of another.
As the security industry expanded during the 1980s, SDM reflected the changes. Now under new management — having been acquired in 1979 by Cahners Publishing Co. — SDM got a new staff as well as a new look during the 1980s. Les Gold began writing the legal column, “Security & the Law,” which he continues to write this day. SDM’s current editor, Laura Stepanek, joined the staff in 1984 as an associate editor.
Each issue of SDM now approached 200 pages, sometimes greater, and there were plenty of stories to fill the pages. Security endured the growing pains that all flourishing industries undergo: training, licensing, community relations, marketing, and unfair competition. The themes of the decade revealed how technologies were unfolding new opportunities. For instance, the invention of the digital communicator in the 1970s allowed monitoring to be done over long distances, thus spawning third-party central stations. Coupled with the miniaturization of motion sensors and door/window contacts, and greater use of wireless controls, the industry was ripe for a mass marketing effort in home security.
With so many new, small security dealerships opening up, the issues centered on training, licensing, and in other ways encouraging professionalism. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association created its National Training School (NTS) to provide a fundamental level of education for installers and technicians. As the number of installed security systems surged, so too did false alarms and the industry began to take giant steps towards managing them.
To keep readers up-to-date with the changes in technology, SDM published reader favorites such as the departments of “Kinks & Hints,” “Installation Report,” “Equipment Overview,” and “Workbench Review.” By the end of the decade, computers were beginning to be more commonly employed for not only communication and accounting tasks, but also for technical procedures Little did SDM or its readers know at the time, that the next decade — the 1990s — would usher in a whole new world with the Internet.
Following its expansion into a greater variety of market sectors in the 1980s — including a huge push into home security — the alarm industry refined its products and services to ensure its growth and stability in the 1990s. Independent alarm dealerships continued to be established all across the United States, as digital communications and wholesale monitoring made it possible for small businesses to flourish by recurring monthly revenue from alarm monitoring contracts. Many of the larger, regional dealers took steps to expand geographically, even nationally, and for the first time began to look at “national accounts” and “builder business” as growth strategies. SDM’s coverage guided readers through its articles that examined best practices in these areas.
The alarm industry was maturing quickly and growing at above-average rates, as evidenced by results of SDM’s annual Industry Forecast Study, which had been conducted since 1982. The spotlight had been turned on and investment money began to flow into the industry.
Yet, there was still relatively little public information available about this mostly private industry. Both insiders and outsiders sought definitive data to help them measure the top performers, and thus, the SDM 100 was born in May 1991 and the SDM Top Systems Integrators Report was introduced five years later, in July 1996.
The 1990s, as reflected by SDM’s articles and advertisements, stressed systems integration as the most effective way to protect America’s businesses. Towards the latter half of the decade, articles focused on the use of phone lines, and then the Internet, to transmit both video and data. SDM introduced its Web site, www.sdmmag.com, early in the decade, as well as an e-mail delivered newsletter. As the decade (and the century) came to a close, SDM presented its last Dealer of the Year for the 20th Century, Russ Cersosimo and Guardian Protection Services.
The 2000s brought numerous changes for the security industry as technologies skyrocketed forward, September 11 changed everything forever, and the world struggled to recover from a global recession. SDM covered these changes and also experienced a change of its own in January 2001 — a change in ownership. The magazine, and its sister Security Magazine were purchased by Business News Publishing (BNP), now known as BNP Media. With that, a change in leadership placed Laura Stepanek at the helm of the magazine as editor.
In August 2001 SDM redesigned its logo, removing the dated “Security Distributing & Marketing” tagline beneath the logo and replacing it with “New Directions for Security Systems and Integration.”
September 11, 2001 shook the nation and resulted in sweeping changes for the industry. The dynamic impact at the enterprise level forced organizations to better understand, measure and manage risk. And that opened the floodgates for the new technologies, new business models and new technical skills needed to meet customer, regulatory and risk assurance requirements.
IP offerings grew on the manufacturing side, and interoperability and standards compliance became a huge differentiator for manufacturers previously known for proprietary systems. In addition to covering integration in features and news articles, SDM welcomed Dan Dunkel as a columnist writing “Integration Intelligence.” With an enhanced focus on technology advancements and integration parternships, SDM’s long-standing department, “Kinks and Hints,” was revamped, becoming “Technology Solutions and Skills” in 2008.
As the decade drew to a close, social media entered the industry. SDM stepped up its offerings with e-newsletters (SDM e-news, Today’s Systems Integrator e-newsletter, and smartHOME e-newsletter), along with a presence on Twitter and Facebook.
Following a decade of sweeping changes, more wait on the horizon. With 41 years of experience, SDM is ready to cover them and offer information to the industry through print, online and live events, always searching for new ways to communicate and contribute to the industry.