The Electronic Security & Technology Association (ESTA) presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to member Arthur L. Beaver, Jr., owner and CEO of Security Systems of America based in Pittsburgh. Beaver received the award at a special ceremony on Oct. 26, 2021 during the ESTA annual Owner’s Conference in Clearwater Beach, Fla.
The purpose of the award, according to ESTA executive director, Karen Mackey, is to recognize the outstanding contributions made by a member to the electronic security industry through knowledge, expertise, leadership, dedication, and upholding the highest moral and ethical standards.
Art Beaver started Security Systems of America (SSA) in 1972, long before the electronic security industry even had a name. “I came in through the back door,” he said.
After graduating from college in the 60s, serving in the Airforce and dabbling in a few businesses, Beaver settled into a management job in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. By the 1970s, steel was being outsourced overseas and he found himself facing unemployment with a family to raise. He answered an ad and bought some accounts from an alarm dealer who was going out of business. Suddenly, he found himself in an industry he knew nothing about.
Within a few weeks Beaver had rented a storefront, hired a secretary and an installer, filed the papers for Security Systems of America and started knocking on doors.
Fifty years later, the business that Beaver started in a two-room office has grown to a team of 70 professionals headquartered in a new 20,000 square-foot building with a branch office in Johnstown. The firm serves all of Pennsylvania and the tri-state areas of Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia, providing a full spectrum of both residential and commercial services as well as central monitoring. Security Systems of America has been named to the SDM 100 for the past 23 years.
“Not bad for someone who never planned on owning and running a security business,” Beaver said.
He knew early on that developing long-term relationships was one of the keys to success. His vision was to provide a lifetime service arrangement for customers and some of the systems SSA installed in the 1970s are still customers today. He also realized that long-term employees are key to nurturing those ongoing client relationships.
“We are not a turnstile [employer] in any way,” Beaver said. “We are interested in keeping people. It helps with the continuity of the business and the continuity of customer relationships.”
Equally important for Beaver was doing business as a gentleman, a goal he has achieved even after spending 50 years in a highly competitive industry.
“Art and I have been friendly competitors for over four decades and I have the same respect for him today that I had back in the 70s,” said Russ Cersosimo, former owner/CEO of Guardian Protection Services in Pittsburgh. “You can rely on his word and I am proud to say that we are still friends to this day.”
Beaver attributes his long-term success to his family, many of whom are involved in the business; to his dedicated long-term employees, and to always learning and evolving over the years.
“If you’re not open to new ideas, you can’t be successful ….or stay relevant,” he says.
He also credits his growth to being involved with trade associations such as NBFAA, ASIS, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and the Electronic Security & Technology Association (ESTA). He was active in starting the Western Pa. branch of the PBFAA and has served on the board of various industry associations.
Art’s advice to young entrepreneurs? Just chip away at it.
“Keep your ear to the ground and your nose to the grindstone but keep your chin up,” he said. “And always keep your eyes on the prize.”