The Boston hotel ballroom was filled to capacity with business and political leaders. The speaker drove his point home: “In today’s hyper-competitive world, it is absolutely essential that you know, one, who wants you to succeed, two, who doesn’t care, and three, who wants you to fail.”

I thought: “This idea sounds simple, almost obvious, but also very important. How does it apply to my company and to the alarm industry?”

Two weeks ago an officer of the biggest U.S. alarm company spoke to a university MBA class in Boston. He said: “In this country, the only choice for security is either my company, with its professionalism, national scope, and advanced technology, or it’s the trunk slammers.”

He went on to describe his strategic plan for taking an increased share of the market from us 13,000 independent alarm dealers who are presently serving about 70 percent of the market.

His company is large enough to purchase national television and radio advertising more efficiently than the competition. So he is planning heavy use of media. His mission is to get the public to associate his company’s name with quality security.

The words of an ancient Chinese general come to mind: “First you win the battle for their hearts and minds, and then you take the territory.”

So it’s easy to identify one sizable organization that is working to defeat us – the independent alarm dealers.

Is there anyone out there who wants us to succeed? Most of us could make a list that would include our bankers, lawyers, employees, customers, fire and police officials, and suppliers. But is there anyone on our side who is national in scope and has consumer recognition on a scale big enough to help us compete with giants?

Yes, there is such an organization. It’s called the Underwriters Laboratories. Its UL logo is among the most widely recognized and respected trademarks in the world. Enough of us independent alarm dealers have aligned with UL that consumers have realized they can get quality security from many sources, not just one.

This UL credential is available to any alarm dealer who is willing to learn UL’s basic quality standards and support UL’s consumer protection program, including inspections for quality assurance.

Is UL only for large companies? Our company applied for its first UL listing when it had five employees. Although we haven’t issued a huge number of UL certificates, the UL logo has proclaimed to the world that we care about quality and have demonstrated our proficiency. This has been an important factor in our growth from five employees to 100 employees.

For the alarm industry, the UL certificate program has been the key to maintaining a level playing field upon which we independents continue to win 70 percent of the alarm security market.

The more I learn about the alarm industry, the more convinced I become that UL is the independent alarm dealer’s best friend.

Even if your company is not directly concerned with UL, I believe your general market opportunities are better because the UL program is there constantly certifying to the public that many companies other than the giants can deliver quality security.

UL is a non-profit organization protecting consumers. I am convinced that it is also protecting the independence of my company, your company, and all the other 13,000 companies in our industry.