I’m no geology expert, so I looked it up. According to the National Geographic, “Igneous rocks form when magma (molten rock) cools and crystallizes, either at volcanoes on the surface of the earth or while the melted rock is still inside the crust.” Why am I talking about rocks?

Well, Kimberlite is an igneous rock, which sometimes contains diamonds. It is also the name of this year’s Dealer of the Year, which is no coincidence. As a Sonitrol corporation, the company does business as Sonitrol Security. But when it was first formed, one of its founders had the foresight to reserve the Kimberlite name. Twelve years later, when several Sonitrol franchises came together to form a corporation it became the company’s formal name — and an apt metaphor for the company’s culture, philosophy and growth.

Like the rock they are named for, Kimberlite managers and employees consider themselves “diamonds in the rough,” always pushing for greatness and looking for ways to shine in the eyes of their customers.

Kimberlite rocks form diamonds out of adversity (volcanic eruption). Originally a family-owned business, the company became an ESOP 17 years ago, just a few years prior to the recession of 2008. President and CEO Joey Rao-Russell attributes this structure to helping them weather that crisis.

“Everyone felt responsible for getting people to do better … It caused us to be much better at business and set us up for growth and navigating the housing crisis (of 2008),” she says.

Now, like many others, the company is once again facing a crisis, as the coronavirus continues to rage. Based in California, Kimberlite was among the first in the industry to feel the effects, with a city and state-wide lockdown being announced in quick succession in mid-March. Moving quickly to adapt, Kimberlite learned valuable lessons from the pandemic, and came out much stronger as a team for it, Rao-Russell says.

“Being a diamond in the rough, we are not to our finished stage yet,” Rao-Russell says. “We will continue to work and cut and polish and get better until we are.” But this adversity has solidified their resolve and honed their skills to continue to succeed.

Read the full article to read about SDM’s 2020 Dealer of the Year.