When founding fathers Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson met to discuss the design and motto for the Great Seal of the new United States, each of them had their own ideas (Franklin actually wanted “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” as the motto, for example). But one thing they all recognized of themselves was that none had experience in heraldry, so they sought the input of artist, collector and researcher Pierre Eugene du Simitiere. Perhaps referencing Franklin’s own design for the first American Penny a few years before (which bore the motto “We are One”), du Simitiere suggested the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” — “from many, one.”
History often seems to repeat itself, and this phrase is doubly significant for this year’s Dealer of the Year winner. Vector Security’s heritage dates back to Benjamin Franklin himself. With his belief that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Franklin played an active role in fire prevention after a Philadelphia fire in 1730 and helped create the first volunteer fire brigade there. Franklin then founded the Philadelphia Contributionship in 1752 to insure buildings against fire. Today the Contributionship is one of the oldest and most prestigious insurance companies in the U.S. It also happens to be a sister company to Vector Security, after its holding company TPC Holdings purchased the Pittsburgh-area dealer in 1982.
Vector is understandably proud of this heritage. “We have hundreds of years of history behind us,” says Pam Petrow, Vector’s president and CEO. “It isn’t just about what we do today, but about how we position the company and build on the strong foundation and legacy we have been handed. Our reputation and brand are critical to maintaining this legacy and our board of directors and the Contributionship want another 200 years.”
But just as important as looking back is preparing for the future; and to do that, Petrow firmly believes in getting outside perspective — just as the founding fathers did when they sought out du Simitiere.
Petrow even goes so far as to ask new employees to write down their observations when they first come to Vector — for the first 90 days, at least. “After that they become ‘Vectorized,’” she says. “We want to know what we can do differently. The people we have added help us to adapt better to change, especially if we can bring people in to look at the business a little differently.”
In fact, several key upper-level management positions at Vector are now held by people who are not only new to Vector, but to the security industry itself. This is balanced against many employees at every level of the organization who have incredibly long tenures from 20 to 30 plus years with the company.
Vector strongly believes that happy employees mean happy customers, which ultimately leads to a positive bottom line. To this end, Vector goes above and beyond in making sure its employees are content (all upper management personnel conduct frequent “stay interviews” with employees), well trained and have plenty of opportunity for advancement. Last year alone, Vector promoted almost 100 employees from within.
Vector is a leader in the security industry, not just because of its history, but because of its consistent place in the SDM 100 top ten along with steadily improving numbers. Petrow personally championed the ASAP cause and has directed her company to help not only 911 centers, but to assist competitors as well. “We are passionate about giving whatever resources we can to get major companies on board so that it doesn’t just become another item on their to do list,” she says.
Of the company’s many initiatives throughout its historically siloed branches and divisions, one was specifically designed to make Vector a more cohesive company united in both approach and vision. The name of this initiative —“One Vector” — is very reminiscent of a much older theme: E Pluribus Unum. One thing is for sure. Ben Franklin would be proud of this company that not only continues to help prevent the fires he insured, but is also dedicated to looking ahead, constantly finding better ways of doing things and leading the charge for change in the industry.
This month’s cover story, profiling Vector Security as winner of the 2015 Dealer of the Year award begins on page 66. Let us know what you think by writing to me at Hodgsonk@bnpmedia.com.