Q-&-A With Central Security Group’s Richard Ginsburg
SDM recently spoke with Richard Ginsburg, president and CEO of Central Security Group (CSG), Tulsa, Okla., a company that is ranked No. 9 on the SDM 100 Report for 2018. Ginsburg refers to CSG as the largest security company you hear from the least often, and that’s with good reason, SDM found. The company, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, is laser-focused on providing the best customer experience possible to end users, along with consistent and reliable performance. Recently, CSG completed two acquisitions this year; launched its Alert 360 branded camera line with its manufacturing partner Hikvision; and opened several branch offices, including one in Sarasota, Fla., this past month. Ginsburg fills in SDM’s readers on CSG’s latest news, along with its growth in the smart home arena.
SDM: What was it like first getting into the smart home business?
Ginsburg: The progression came from two areas: consumer demand and defensiveness. There has definitely been a steady increase in demand for video, IoT [Internet of Things] devices such as doorbells and garage remotes and more, so the demand was there and we have customers asking about those things. On the other side, the defensive end, it’s the nature of the business today that if you don’t offer these items to your customers, chances are very high someone else will. We are very aggressive on both ends. If existing customers with burglar alarms are approached by someone else, we want them to know they can get those things from us first. The same goes with new customers.
SDM: Tell me about Central Security Group’s direct relationship with HIKVision for your Alert 360 branded camera line for both the residential and commercial markets.
Ginsburg: We had been using HIK products for many years and have been pleased with the reliability and future set of the product line. It was the logical next step for a company like ours, based on our volume requirements, to form an OEM relationship. Video is a big part of our business and there are hundreds of CCTV options available to installers today. Over the years, we struggled with different camera types and brands being used across all of our offices and you find yourself with a non-standardized product line, supporting multiple apps and equipment across customers. It becomes cumbersome to support it. So, about eight or nine months ago, we began rolling out our branded camera line and released it to our 200 authorized dealers at ISC West so that now all of our dealers and customers have access to using our branded products. The systems we offer go from a couple of cameras in homes to 16 or larger camera systems in businesses. And it is all sourced from the same manufacturer so the customer experience is the same for the business and the home.
SDM: What has the response been from your customers and authorized dealers about the camera line?
Ginsburg: Relief is a good word for the feedback we’ve heard so far. There are many different types of products and services out there, but we believe the equipment is top notch. It also allows our in-house technical support teams to successfully focus on one set of products and services and that snowballs: they are more comfortable and they increase their knowledge of the products every single day. It is a big commitment, but it allows for a better customer experience, which helps all of our dealers and employees.
SDM: Tell us about CSG’s Alert 360 interactive services.
Ginsburg: We launched that in 2015 and it was definitely in response to rising consumer demand for more than a burglar alarm in their home or business, and since 2015 we have basically doubled our customer base. We bundled a number of products and services into packages, including security and home automation to a full suite of home automation and video. All of it is installed professionally by our own technicians or authorized dealers and monitored 24/7 through us. The packages start in the low $20s range and go to the mid- to high-$50s per month.
SDM: What percentage of your smart home customers sign up for professional monitoring?
Ginsburg: For us, it’s 100 percent. We don’t take customers on unless they sign up for professional monitoring. That is the core of our business.
SDM: Tell us your thoughts on where you think the industry is heading, particularly with the influx of direct-to-consumer products.
Ginsburg: There are good DIY products out there. I look at that as a different market. We are very strategic in the types of products and services we offer and most importantly the customers that we address and target. I liken it to the fact that there are some customers that like to mow their own lawn. They go to Lowe’s and buy a lawn mower and do it themselves. There are other customers that could do that but choose to have a professional lawn care company take care of that for them. That’s the kind of market we focus on. I think there are good solutions on both ends — they are just different.
SDM: Is there anything else CSG has in store for the future that you’d like to share?
Ginsburg: A lot of people don’t realize we are, and continue to be, very active in the acquisition front; we just don’t always announce it. This year already, we’ve had two large acquisitions: one in Florida and one in Texas, and we are actively working on others. We are growing fast and we grow multiple ways, not only through dealer programs. We have 14 branches now and half of those are either new or have been significantly expanded. We just opened new branches in Sarasota, northern California, and Sacramento. Our model is one where we like to have our own service technicians on the ground close to our customer. We invest in these local offices for that reason. I believe it differentiates us.
Editor’s Note: For more information about Central Security Group, visit www.centralsecuritygroup.com.