Human Resources and Technology

Security firm’s evolution reaches 10-year anniversary

August 18, 2017
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Midstate Security
Midstate Security has come a long way in the past decade as evidenced by the advances in its control center. Courtesy Midstate Security

Since Dave Nemmers became owner of Midstate Security, the company has experienced a sharp increase in growth and productivity.

Nemmers purchased Midstate Security from Johnson Electric in 2007. This year, the company celebrated 10 years of team-focused leadership.

“We were half the size we are today,” Nemmers said, “40-some employees. We had a solid customer base, but it wasn’t growing. Its sales had been about the same for the last four to five years.”

Nemmers saw potential in the company based on trends in emerging technologies and customer demands for a higher quality of security services. He believed businesses and individuals have a higher need than in the past to protect their assets.

“The time was right to acquire a company that would be an up-and-coming industry for the next several decades,” he said.

Nemmers brought to Midstate his diverse experience in business accounting. He worked for several companies, including Ernst and Young, Steelcase and Advance Packaging, before starting his own consulting firm.

He said he is most passionate about meeting security demands while providing an exceptional customer experience. The company monitors 6,000 customer accounts in its central station and has a 24/7 service department.

“As our customer base has expanded, so has the demand,” Nemmers said.

In the past 10 years, Midstate has had to increase the number of service technicians, project managers and administrative members on staff, as well as increase the level of training and expertise for its employees. The company now employs 78 individuals, almost doubling the 46 employees from when Nemmers came on board. They have experienced growth at a rate of about 25 percent per year, he said.

Five years ago, employees would have filled dual roles. Greg Gkekas, vice president of sales and marketing, said before he joined, service technicians also would serve as sales representatives. This model didn’t fit with Midstate’s new vision of providing superior customer service. Gkekas wanted to have dedicated sales people who understood strategic communication, not just the technical side of security. As the company began to grow and hire more people, he was able to meet that need.

“It allowed me to go out and find strategic-thinking sales people as opposed to really technical sales people,” Gkekas said.

The switch to a dedicated sales team led to an increase in sales revenue for Midstate, as sales professionals were able to focus on driving sales instead of balancing them with technical services.

Even though employees work in specialized teams, those teams still are cross-functional, providing internal communication and collaborating on sales, projects and repairs. The model requires that everyone has some understanding of each other’s responsibilities.

“Our account managers have full responsibility,” Gkekas said, “and the expectation is that, while they may not do every nitty gritty piece of the detail work, they’re aware of what’s going on, and they’re coordinating with the team.”

Another major change for Midstate in the past 10 years has been making the switch from analog camera systems to Internet Protocol (IP) camera systems. IP systems offer users the ability to program advanced security settings, and all cameras in the system are connected in one network.

“You can trigger an alarm if a car is entering a driveway the wrong way,” Nemmers explained. “It can trigger an alarm if a package is left behind. It can trigger an alarm around crowd density.”

The change in technology has made security systems more proactive. Customers are able to receive an alarm for possible security threats rather than just analyze video data after the fact. The strategic interface allows customers a more tactical approach to their security system and can equip them to possibly even stop security breaches from happening.

Mobility also motivates innovation in security. Technology is available for security systems to be set up and accessed via customers’ smartphones.

“You can set up your thermostat at home, you can set up your lights; well, now you can take that technology and use it in solutions that we provide,” Gkekas said.

Midstate sends teams to trade shows around the country to collaborate with business partners and tap into new and emerging security technologies. The company attends the International Security Conference, which meets annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as the American Society for Industrial Security trade show, held this year in Dallas.

“It’s an ever-changing industry,” Gkekas said. “Product sets are changing. Technology is changing.”

Nemmers emphasized the importance of the teamwork-based culture he said has enabled them to adapt to increased changes in security technology and consistently provide a higher quality of service.

“It’s not been my success, it’s been the team’s success. We win or lose as an organization, and I’ve just been blessed to have some outstanding teammates,” he said.

Midstate provides security systems for big-name companies in the area, like Gordon Foods in Gaylord and SpartanNash in Grand Rapids, and monitors accounts nationwide, including in Florida and Texas. But in order to provide better customer service, Nemmers wants to establish more offices outside of the company headquarters in Wyoming, possibly in Gaylord and Traverse City. In 2015, the company partnered with the private equity firm Huizenga Group to help its growth strategy.

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