Because the winner of The Monitoring Association’s 2022 Central Station Manager of the Year (Marcos Reyes, vice president and general manager of central station operations, trustee of Kimberlite Corporation, Fresno, Calif.) is now happily retired, we turned to the two deserving finalists — Larry Esposito, senior monitoring center manager at Affiliated Monitoring, Union, N.J., and Julia Aliferis, central station assistant manager, American Alarm & Communications, Arlington Mass. — for their thoughts on leadership, the impact of the pandemic, supply chain issues and more.

Julia Aliferis joined American Alarm in February 2016. She began as an operator on the second shift and progressed by seeking assignments and training with the data entry team. In 2017 she transitioned to a full-time role with the data entry team. Following her development there, Aliferis was selected for the assistant manager position in September 2018.

Larry Esposito joined Affiliated in 2004 as a monitoring shift supervisor. After four successful years, he was promoted to junior operations manager, taking on increasing levels of responsibility in the monitoring center. In 2012, after having been an instrumental piece of Affiliated’s move from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Union, N.J., Esposito was again promoted to senior monitoring center manager, where he is directly responsible for the day-to-day monitoring activities at the Union facility.

Julia Aliferis

SDM: How did you initially get into the business?

ALIFERIS: In 2011, I was offered a position in central station as an operator. I accepted and began on the evening and weekend shift. Those hours provided a great opportunity to dig into how a central station works, as well as refine and learn new skills. Within a few months I began supervising the shift. My curiosity continued, and eventually I found myself cross-training with other departments. That time helped me shape my perception of the alarm industry, and find what I was passionate about, which is bringing technology and customer service together to help people. In 2016 I decided to focus on and build my career in the central station.

ESPOSITO: I graduated from college in 2004 and was looking for my first “real” job, not really sure exactly what I wanted to do. After going on a few interviews in various fields, I answered an ad in the New York Times (the actual newspaper) for a manager trainee position. I came in for the interview, was hired, and have been here ever since!

SDM: How would you describe your leadership style?

ALIFERIS: My leadership style focuses on communication and commitment to training. It is a privilege to connect with my team and understand their learning styles and needs. It is very important that our SOPs (standard operating procedures) and resources are well organized and maintained. By supporting open lines of communication and providing focused times for personal and team growth, we are encouraging operators to be invested in their work and development.

ESPOSITO: Listen and learn. I have been working in this industry for many years, so I know a lot — but I also know that I don’t know everything, and there are always opportunities to learn. I always try to listen and learn from those around me. I respect the knowledge and experience of my colleagues at Affiliated. I regularly look to them for their guidance and advice when making an important decision. I also listen and learn from those new to the industry — sometimes those “fresh eyes” can spark new ideas or new ways of looking at problems.

Larry Esposito

SDM: What are some of the core principles you work by?

ALIFERIS: Advocating for central station staff to take advantage of opportunities is one of my main goals. It is very rewarding to see an interest flourish into a career. I encourage all to strive to exceed their expectations.

ESPOSITO: Complete dedication to whatever I am doing. If I am working on a project or attending a meeting, I give my full attention and effort. People are our greatest asset. In my position, I deal with a lot of people. All people — customers, vendors, employees or otherwise — get my full focus when I am speaking with them. And, always lead by example. People do their best when they are following someone that demonstrates what is needed to get a job done well.

SDM: How did your central station change in the wake of the pandemic?

ALIFERIS: A weekly management meeting that began during the early days of the pandemic continues. In my opinion, it has become a helpful pulse check of our business. American Alarm has also expanded work-from-home opportunities. This has allowed for more flexibility and creativity in scheduling. In some cases, it has also given staff the opportunity to try new things. For example, we have begun some remote central station and data entry training.

SDM: Are supply chain issues affecting your business? If so, how are you addressing it?

ALIFERIS: Supply chain issues have affected business. Consistent assessment of inventory and resources helps to ease the burden, and customer impact. In some cases, qualifying new or alternate products to meet customer needs has been an option. There has also been an increased effort company-wide to monitor and resolve outstanding customer requests.

SDM: Where do you see the company in the next few years?

ALIFERIS: I anticipate American Alarm will continue to grow and remain a leading provider of New England’s security needs. Innovative ideas and technologies will continue to be evaluated and embraced. Our developing leaders will take ownership of new advancements, and begin building teams to meet the company’s goals. I think there will be a continued emphasis on industry education. These efforts will allow central station and all of American Alarm’s employees to continue to provide exemplary customer service and the best life and property safety solutions available.

ESPOSITO: Continuing to be an industry leader. Affiliated is on the cutting edge of technology in the monitoring world. We constantly train our specialists on new technologies, many of which Affiliated has led the way in developing. We have always set the standard for great monitoring and I know my team will continue to be a very important and core part of that in the future.