How Do You Take Advantage Of Growth In The Security Industry?
VAR Leo McMillan, president of McMillan Technology increased sales by 20% in 1997. To stay on top, he knows what security measures end users are looking for today.
Changes in society drive the demand for additional security, says Leo McMillan, president of McMillan Technology (San Francisco). In the United States, terroristic attacks like the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and recent shootings in public schools have put security in the forefront. Abroad, acts of violence against Americans, like the bombing in Niarobi, are becoming more frequent. It's obvious that security systems are not just for airports anymore.
McMillan has become a successful $20 million VAR with 17 years of experience in the security industry by providing quality security installations and service. His business has been the top nationwide reseller for WSE (formerly Westinghouse Security Electronics) for the ninth year in a row. Because of the increased importance of security, McMillan Technology grew by 20% last year.
The Roots Of His Success
McMillan started working as an electrical contractor in the Bay Area 40 years ago and developed his first company, McMillan Electrical Company 37 years ago. "My goal was to get into a new market that was similar to electrical contracting," he explains. Today, McMillan Electrical Company is a $16 million business with 87 field personnel.
"At McMillan Technology, we provide a total turnkey security solution," he continues. "I sit down with a potential client and discuss the client's security needs and what products best fit those needs. Then my company budgets, designs and installs the security solution, and provides ongoing service contracts." Today, McMillan Technology has done installations worldwide in commercial buildings, airports, hospitals and schools.
Society Determines Security Needs
Commercial Industry — "The need is growing in all aspects of commercial industry," he says. "My building locks up at 5 p.m. So if I have employees working late, I know they are secure. I have a camera in the parking lot so employees can view the area from a security station before they ever even leave the building. I need to add that comfort zone or security zone for my personnel. I wouldn't want my wife or daughter working in an office that didn't have the same kind of protection."
McMillan Technology installs what McMillan calls a "backbone riser" system in many office buildings. Control panels, almost like electric circuit-breaker panels, are installed on every floor. The building's owner pays for the system and gives tenants the option of "plugging into" the security system. If tenants take advantage of the system, they now have access to security systems like card-access controlled doors, elevator re-call (which controls elevators) and closed-circuit television (CCTV). Smart cards integrate well into the system, says McMillan. "Individual users in that building plug into the system in a way that is not much different than plugging in a telephone," he explains. "It offers a value to the tenant moving into the 33rd floor. The backbone riser security system is made to be electronically failsafe, which means it can be overridden in an emergency. In case of a fire, you need to be able to exit through any door."
Healthcare – Increased lawsuits and insurance liability also influence the need for additional security in healthcare, says McMillan. "We don't want babies being stolen," he says. "I read in the paper that a woman was breastfeeding her newborn and thought she'd change the child's diaper. When she did, she discovered that who she thought was her little boy was someone else's little girl. Incidents like that lose patients and credibility at hospitals."
Personnel tracking is gaining in popularity at hospitals. "Through the use of proximity cards, a security system can tell where a doctor is in a hospital by where he gained access with his security card," says McMillan.
Airports – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has impletmented layered security measures in airports. "The FAA tells airports ‘If you want to say open for business, you have to have increased security."
Schools — "We are seeing more security systems in schools because there seem to be more acts of violence on campus," says McMillan. On the university level, he explains, many colleges have instituted a multi-use card, which can be used as student identification, to gain entrance to specific buildings and it can also be used as an ATM card. Many schools are also looking at smart cards, a card with a built-in microprocessor and memory used for identification or financial transactions.
Selling Security Is Selling Comfort
"In the end, it's up to the company to make sure its employees feel comfortable with the security system," says McMillan. "But, we do all that we can. There are some organizations in the industry that can help the client. The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) also has a lot of information. We often bring our clients to trade shows like ASIS to let them see what security measures are out there."
McMillan encountered this problem with an installation for United Airlines. "At the time, it had about 12,000 employees – 10,000 of which were union members," McMillan explains. "We installed a massive security system which required everyone to enter and exit through turnstiles. There were 12,000 people going in and out of this complex everyday, and we didn't want to slow them down and make them feel like there was obvious security. We were concerned that the union would come down on us and say this was like Big Brother watching the workers. But our company and United Airlines negotiated with the union and there was never an incident of an adversarial point of view from the employees. In the end, the system showed the company cares for its employees' well-being by making sure its employees were safe. If a company shows it cares first, suspicion often disappears."
Future Trends In Security
"Right now card access and closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) are growing in use," says McMillan. "There are a lot of CCTV cameras in the corridors of office buildings.
"Security technology will continue to be adopted at a rapid pace," he continues. "It used to be a leftover budget decision. Now security is at the top of the priorities. Decisions about security used to come from the facilities director, and now some are being made in the boardroom by the CEO. These CEOs are realizing that their companies and employees are so valuable, that they want to make security decisions in the boardroom."