Observant followers of SDM’s Systems Integrator (and Dealer) of the Year program may by now have noticed a trend. For the past few years we have been featuring “honorees” that frequently go on to win the following year. This was once again the case with this year’s winner, NextGen Security, who was our honoree last year.

While it is not by intent, often when two companies so impress the judges that it is difficult to choose a winner, the company that is not chosen follows up with another banner year and reapplies — winning the following year.

Last year, NextGen Security (featured in the photo above, right) had just achieved the SAFETY Act Designation in 2015, which is an impressive feat, and one of the reasons they were honored in 2016. However, this year, their accomplishments were even more impressive, including a 74 percent growth year in 2016; a move to new custom-designed offices that helped win them a Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best Places to Work distinction; a deliberate and focused plan to increase cybersecurity and cloud efforts; and a forward-thinking approach to technology that includes such innovations as the use of drones for system design and a fully customizable power station demo in the new office facility.

In researching this article, the word “custom” came up quite often. While many successful companies operate using very detailed models for everything, NextGen Security takes the opposite tactic: From its approach to employees to customer feedback and service plans, there is no one model for success.

Perhaps one reason they are able to do that is that of the five founders of the company, four of them have known each other since childhood, and the fifth has become an “adopted” member of the group. The trust this provides them allows them more freedom to make working together (and with their employees) open and fun, while keeping it challenging.

Another reason they are able to do this is that the company — which was founded just five years ago — was set up from the start to handle a high level of success. From the back-office software that was put in place to handle a much larger volume than a typical start-up, to a compensation structure that not only gives every employee a stake in the outcome but incentive to work as a team, NextGen Security was designed with success in mind.

Finally, the company takes its name seriously, making targeted efforts to attract, train and keep the “next generation” of security employees. Not only do they pride themselves on having an open door policy for any employee, but they are actively seeking ways to help the millennial generation in ways big and small, from a college loan repayment program to an in-office shuffleboard table.

This month’s cover story profiling NextGen Security as the 2017 Systems Integrator of the Year begins on page 50. But if you are looking for the honoree this year, you won’t find one — not because there were no worthy companies, but because we made the decision to discontinue that practice. We wouldn’t want to give away any future surprises! Let us know what you think by writing to me at Hodgsonk@bnpmedia.com.