Excellence Award winners and honorees pose for a group photo with CSAA president, Bob Bean, and SDM Editor, Laura Stepanek. Photo by SDM Staff

Individuals and central stations were recognized by the CSAA during its Excellence Awards breakfast at ESX in Nashville on Wednesday, June 26.

Sponsored by SDM, the awards breakfast was one of the best attended in recent years.

This year's award recipients showed dedication, strength under pressure, innovation and consistently went above and beyond the call of duty.

In the category of Support Staff of the Year, the honorable mention was awarded to Kate Brickner, Vivint, Provo, Utah. Brickner trains all new employees and creates and runs classes. She helped facilitate a standard operating procedure review meeting across departments, and was a central part of preparing for a transition in operating platforms in the central station.

The winner in the Support category was David Palacios, United Central Control, San Antonio, Texas. Palacios works very closely with the IT department to troubleshoot when an alarm dealer experiences communication and/or programming issues to ensure that the central station is receiving accurate information. As described by his employer, Palacios is someone who “consistently performs above expectation levels. Dedication and commitment are some of his strongest attributes and his drive to help customers is unmatched. His unending patience and easy manner have made him or her a go-to person for many team members as well. He takes great pride in his or her work and maintains outstanding attendance.”

In the category of Operator of the Year, Jorge Rodriguez, Monitronics Int’l, Dallas, Texas, received the honorable mention. According to his application, Rodriguez recently was assigned to lead a group of operators whose goals are to help reduce false alarms and excessive signals. Once he took over this position, the false alarms were progressively reduced in quantity. Monitronics said Rodriguez’s efforts helped the company win the False Alarm Reduction Association award for alarm reduction.

The Operator of the Year was Gale Gordon, The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa. When the central station manager at the Protection Bureau was forced to suddenly retire due to medical reasons, Gordon was quick to take over daily operation of the central station with diligence, experience and flexibility, until a new manager could be found. She did so without compensation or accolades. It should be stated that the position of central station manager had previously been offered to Gordon, but she had turned it down because she was happy in her current position. Still, in the interim of finding a new manager, she kept morale up among the staff, worked on training, and hired new employees. Gordon took on new responsibilities that were out of her comfort zone and was successful at them.

The honorable mention for Manager of the Year was awarded to John Williams, Alarmco Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada. Williams, upon his promotion to central station manager, organized the training for new hires, because it had not, before this time, been routine, scheduled or managed. This person wrote the standard operating procedure for training of new central station hires and designed the training program.

The Manager of the Year was Amy Becht, monitoring manager at Vivint. Becht developed a formal program and related activities to help keep monitoring staff motivated, as well as to provide a framework for measuring their performance. She works closely with others in the department on scheduling and staffing levels, going above and beyond to thank operators for doing things such as working on holidays. Becht developed the company’s customer satisfaction surveys and monitors the results. She trains team members to resolve customer concerns, and also takes a leadership role in resolving complaints personally. She effectively leads Vivint’s two central stations, one in Minnesota and one in Utah.

The Central Station of the Year honorable mention went to United Central Control, San Antonio, Texas. A CSAA Five Diamond certified central station, UCC also has the distinct advantage of monitoring for UL 2050 systems. For operators, this central station has an extensive incentive program designed to encourage quick and efficient response, while promoting quality and attention to detail. Another aspect that the judges liked about this central station was how involved it is in the industry, including working heavily, for example, with FARA (the False Alarm Reduction Association), with CSAA on the ASAP to PSAPs project; and support of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, among many other involvements. UCC has an impressive program that allows it to dramatically reduce its “alarm factor” — the number of operator-handled events per month per account — through a campaign of reaching out to dealers, especially dealers with high-activity accounts.

Vivint, Provo, Utah, was named Central Station of the Year. Vivint has all of the necessary certifications and listings to be considered among the finest providers in the business, including CSAA Five Diamond certification. Vivint quantifies and qualifies its own internal operations, including operator performance. Its quality service measurement and incentive program is used to identify great performers within the central station and reward them, as well as to provide well-defined and enforceable standards of quality service that can be used to also identify unacceptable performance. Data analytics are employed throughout the central station so that hour-by-hour, staffing levels and other changes can be implemented to adjust for changing conditions. For example, the central station has a service level performance of 90 percent of alarms responded to within 30 seconds, and an average speed of answer at 10 seconds or less. As these statistics are analyzed and reported every two hours, it allows the central station to make adjustments in staffing levels as needed to meet goals.

Click here to watch the presentation of the Central Station of the Year award to Vivint.