HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS? Each May SDM features the SDM 100  — a ranking of the top 100 security dealer companies measured by their RMR the previous year. By its nature, being named as one of these companies is surely a mark of their business success. But like anyone or any business, these companies also experience ups and downs.

And 2020, in the words of Supreme Security Systems, was “a year unlike any in recent history.” Unpredictable was another term used to describe it. And in a business that measures its success on recurring revenue, that is not necessarily a good thing.

It was a year in which an unusual number of responding companies listed versions of the same thing as their “most significant accomplishment” in 2020 — surviving it.

Sometimes succeeding means simply staying around long enough for things to improve. And that, essentially, is the story told in the paged of the SDM 100 this year. But that isn’t to say the news was bad. In fact, considering the challenges, these companies not only survived — they thrived.

Overall, RMR grew by a small margin (1 percent); revenue stayed the same; and profit margins grew for 50 percent of them (up from 45 percent in the previous report). Across the board, the news was one of steady strength, if not wild success (but there were a few of those, too!).

When seas are calm staying steady is bad. But when they are rough, steady is great.

As Custom Alarm wrote, “Overall sales revenue increased about 3 percent year over year from 2019-2020. We were on pace at the start of the year to have a record year, until March. We wouldn’t consider this strong growth, but not bad considering nine months of it was affected by COVID-19 in one way or another.”

For better or worse, the pandemic drove almost all other factors away this year, but it also had some positive impacts.

Fleenor Security Systems reported, “COVID-19 caused us to take some actions we would probably not have considered but in the end it has actually given us a new perspective. … Overall I would say 2020 was an incredibly challenging but successful year!”

While the story of the pandemic may be (hopefully) winding down as 2021 progresses, it will continue to have large impacts on the security industry, as evidenced by many of the comments from the top 100 companies represented — as will the consequences of the other big event that happened in 2020: the election.

But whatever happens, these companies are ready and prepared for the future.

Sonitrol Integrated Security put it succinctly: “After 2020, I don’t see a whole lot that could change that much more. The biggest unknown will be how the new administration approaches things, but we have seen that security is vital no matter which team is in the White House and Congress.”