Based in Columbia, S.C., SDM 100 26th-ranked Electric Guard Dog (EGD) was founded in 1973 by inventor Bill Mullis and soon became one of the largest guard dog companies in the U.S. Changing the business model from guard dogs to electrified fencing was necessitated by Mullis’ need to protect his own business. In 1991, after getting broken into twice, Mullis developed an electric security fence. When he realized it was more effective than the dogs, he soon phased them out, and Electric Guard Dog took off.

EGD has three layers of protection — physical deterrent, shock deterrent and alarm deterrent, says Electric Guard Dog CEO Jack DeMao, who was hired as CEO in 2007. Built inside a regular, existing fence, the 10-foot high electric security fence provides a physical deterrent; a 7,000-volt electric current pulsates through the fence every 1.3 seconds to provide a shock deterrent; and, in the case of an extreme scenario such as a truck driving through the fence, a drop in voltage will trigger a siren and alert the customer through a central station, providing the alarm deterrent. “Of the four levels of security — deter, detect, delay and respond — deter is the most desirable,” DeMao says. “Ninety-five percent of our customers report zero crime after having the system installed.”

The system is solar powered and completely independent of the customer’s infrastructure, ensuring protection even in the event of a power outage. “Bad guys come out in droves when the power goes out,” DeMao says. “They wait just long enough for backup batteries to drain in traditional surveillance systems, and they break in.” With Electric Guard Dog’s system, even if a hurricane has taken out the solar power, the system can still run for three days on its battery backup. It uses unique software designed to ignore any non-threat, such as animals or trash.

EGD is the only nationwide company providing electric fence protection along with monitoring and local service, DeMao says. “This comes at a steep cost, but it benefits EGD by helping to maintain long-term customer relationships with an industry-leading 2 percent net attrition rate.”

DeMao says EGD primarily services trucking companies, auto auction yards, auto dismantlers (junkyards), metal recycling sites and rental companies — companies that often suffer from weekly or even nightly theft. “We service market leaders in all five groups,” he says. “We are gaining customers in the railroad market as well as the chemical distribution market since the Department of Homeland Security has asked chemical distribution sites to tighten security.” And in every market EGD is in, it sees overwhelming success.  

But there’s more to Electric Guard Dog than just a great service. Named to South Carolina’s list of “Best Places to Work” for the last two years running, along with terrific employee ratings on Glassdoor, the company has independent verification of the dedication, loyalty and satisfaction of its staff. Employees are hired into a culture where motivation is rated over age, gender, etc.

DeMao explains that the biggest challenge EGD faces is a lack of awareness. The company began spreading by word-of-mouth, but in 2011 they brought in outside salespeople. DeMao expects the company to triple in the next five years as the sales team matures and learns the business. In the meantime, DeMao is inspiring the EGD team to join him as he demonstrates the effectiveness of the fences by willingly getting jolted in promotional videos. He still can’t will himself to hold on for a second pulse though. “It’s impossible. Nobody can,” he says. And that, to any customer, is reassuring.