Home » 2009 SDM Dealer of the Year Honoree: ADAPT & THRIVE
Two generations of the Pastore family direct Crime Prevention Security Systemsâ€”and consider employees their extended family. From left: Office Manager Jessica Pastore; Vice President of Sales Randi Elrad; President John Pastore; and Vice President of Operations Jorgia Pastore McAfee.
No state has been hit harder in the economic downturn than Florida, and the effects lingered in 2009. But, as Crime Prevention Security Systems founder and President John Pastore remarks, “We chose not to participate in the recession and not to let it divert us from our mission of being the premier low-voltage integration company in north central Florida and offering the best products and service in the market.” Crime Prevention Security Systems’ response to the economy included expanding products, services, and market focus; streamlining operations; and continuing its leadership in programs that benefit the security industry and the communities it serves.
Crime Prevention Security Systems, No. 92 on the SDM 100 with annual revenues of nearly $5 million, was founded in Gainesville, Fla. in 1975. It also operates an office in Ocala, Fla. Based on an operating philosophy summed up in its marketing slogan “Large Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Care,” the company has earned an approximate 50 percent market share as measured by the number of active alarm permits in its primary Gainesville market.
Crime Prevention Security Systems has more than 6,000 residential customers and more than 2,000 non-residential customers, numbers which have grown steadily since 2007. The number of monitoring accounts grew to 26,000 in late 2009, the result of a large new dealer relationship in Atlanta that also will bring a hot-redundant central station online in 2010. Revenue declined for the first time in 2009, down about 12 percent, but recurring monthly revenue increased 3.2 percent, although at a lower rate than in previous years.
The company’s net attrition rate is well below industry averages, at five percent. Before the slowdown, the key reason for attrition was customer moves. Now the reasons include money and technology as well. “Customers can no longer afford security monitoring, are cutting expenses, or have eliminated their telephone landline,” Pastore explains. “We work with them to retain their business.” For example, customers with budget constraints can earn three months of free monitoring by referring a new customer. “Some customers make so many referrals that they don’t pay for their service at all,” says Pastore. The company also will agree to defer payments or temporarily suspend service. Customers who no longer have a phone landline are offered cellular backup units or IP monitoring.
The company’s central station monitors burglary, fire, medical alarms, elevator phones, access control systems, cameras and ankle bracelets worn by offenders on probation. Signals are received via standard digital, cellular backup and the Internet. The alarm dispatch rate (eight percent) is the lowest in the company’s market. Pastore attributes this to effective customer education and good internal communication between the central station and service department that enables the company to address equipment trouble signals before they trigger false alarms.
In 2009, the company upgraded its phone system, installed Surguard System III receivers, and it obtained a UL listing in advance of establishing the new hot-redundant central station in Atlanta. “We are constantly evaluating and adopting new technologies to ensure that our central station keeps pace with the industry,” comments Pastore.
Crime Prevention Security Systems had a 40 percent drop in revenue from residential new construction in 2009, which was a blow to a company that traditionally derived 75 percent of its installation revenue from new and existing residential customers. But, again, the company adapted. “We began to provide more customized service and individualized packages to the few residential homebuilders still building,” says Pastore. “We also refocused our selling efforts on three market segmentsâ€”commercial projects, existing home security projects and home entertainment/integration projects.”
Commercial was identified for two reasons. One, there’s a strong commercial market in Gainesville, attributable to the steadying presence of the University of Florida. And two, commercial projects generate the highest revenues and require the most installation and technical support.
“Our focus on commercial is a key reason we’ve been able to maintain most of our revenue through this recession,” summarizes Pastore. “Reconnecting with our current customer base and offering them new products, such as home automation and lighting and generator service, has also contributed.”
The company also looked internally for ways to cut costs and streamline operations without diminishing customer service. “We found that it took 20 to 30 pieces of paper to open a new account,” states Pastore. “We replaced all but three pages, and cut our paper waste dramatically, by having salespeople and technicians use iPhones for customer demonstrations, product tests and work orders.” Crime Prevention Security Systems expanded its sales and marketing program to include social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. “These are huge in a college town,” Pastore points out.
Crime Prevention Security Systems continues to position itself as a quality source of network-based integrated systems. Beginning as a provider of structured wiring, the company today has the resources and expertise to design and install commercial and residential integrated systems for home automation, security and access control.
“IP-based systems are here to stay and we invest heavily in training our technicians to be the best at designing and installing them,” remarks Pastore. The company also has a full-time IT director.
A significant differentiator for the company is its family atmosphere. The Pastore family, John, wife Randi and daughters Jorgia McAfee and Jessica Pastore, are involved in management of the company. “Employees are our extended family,” notes John Pastore. Employees nominated the company for Florida Trend Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For in 2009, resulting in Crime Prevention Security Systems being ranked #23 among mid-sized businesses. The company employs 45 people.
Another factor Pastore believes benefits his company is the regular, active participation of employees in organizations and events that benefit north central Florida communities, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Alachua County, March of Dimes, Stop! Children’s Cancer and The Gainesville Community Playhouse. Within the security industry, John Pastore has been active in, among others, the Authorized Integrators Network (AIN), which is working to improve levels of service in the security and low-voltage integration industries on a national level.
Stan Matysiak is president and chief executive officer of AIN and managing partner of GE Home Technologies. He has known John and Randi Pastore for about 20 years. “John and Randi have made the security industry and residential integration business a better place for all of us,” he says. “They are accomplished business people, fantastic parents, loyal GE Home Technologies Board members and wonderful friends who make a difference in the world today.”
“We’re excited about the future and the opportunities new IP technology will create for our industry,” concludes Pastore. “Successful dealers will pay close attention to the way they do business. Then, when new technology changes the marketâ€”and it will change it many times going forwardâ€”they’ll be able to adapt quickly and continue to provide customers with new and better technology.”
At a Glance
SDM Dealer of the Year Honoree: Crime Prevention Security Systems LLC, Gainesville, Fla. Web site: www.cpss.net Employment: 40 full-time; 5 part-time Revenue: $4.9 million in fiscal year 2009 Market Focus: Residential and commercial security, home automation and home entertainment
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