Security Integrator of the Year: Aronson
As technologies converge on clients’ IT networks, Aronson Security Group offers a lesson in the value of collaboration between integrators.


“A lot of these PSA members are our partners. To share with our partners helps us all.” – Phil Aronson, ASG president (center). Left: Mike Kobelin, VP of client management; right: John Harlow, director of global management.
December 07, 2012 By Tom LeBlanc

The folks at Aronson Security Group (ASG) didn’t want to do a typical interview when I reached out to them for a March 2012 CI Profile. Instead of the typical series of one-on-one interviews with executives and others, Seattle-based ASG suggested a conference call and offered to invite non-ASG representatives from clients and other integrators.

That choice reflects what ASG is – a true collaborating integrator, unafraid to share credit (and revenue) if it means partnering with a firm with complementary expertise and results in an ultimately happy client. As audio, video, automation, IT and security merge on networks, a collaboration model increasingly makes sense to provide a single point of contact for clients.

ASG’s VP of strategic development and alliances group, Nigel Waterton, is more emphatic; after all, he’s the guy responsible for setting up his firm’s strategic partners and finding clients. “Integration is a methodology by which we bring in all the subject matter experts,” he says, adding that it occurs successfully when all the disciplines “come together to create a resilient and highly strengthened, adaptable organization. It’s really the only true way forward.”

Getting with the Times

Phil Aronson has been president of ASG since 1989 and working there since 1983, so the trend toward collaboration is one of many changes he has seen in the security integration realm. Another is the diminishing emphasis on product margins. IT integrators are generally good at embracing a service-based revenue model, but too many A/V integrators rely on product margins for profits. It’s telling that 87 percent of integrators surveyed by CI say that less than 10 percent of their revenue is under contract; it’s a safe bet that many of the savvy 13 percent are IT- or security-centric.

To be blunt, integrators can learn a lot from the way ASG has successfully read the market and managed to react by making significant changes to its business model. “Ten years ago, we knew product margins were going down and that we had to address that,” Aronson says. “We had to add value someplace else. So we put a methodology in place and we grew our engineering and project management disciplines. We needed to know more and add value through knowledge.”

This is not to pick on non-security integrators, or not just non-security integrators. Mike Kobelin, ASG’s VP of client management, is also chairman of the board for PSA Security Network, the largest electronic security cooperative representing security integrators. “I wish all the PSA members could hear the things we’re talking about,” he said during our conference call.

“The biggest risk in the security integration market boils down to two words: navigating change. Most PSA members created their business model when they got started in the ’80s or ’90s, and [the models] are no longer sufficient to drive client value. The changes that we’ve implemented at ASG we’re trying to share with PSA. We can help the industry evolve by sharing some of the things that we do.”

And no, ASG doesn’t see a conflict in educating other integrators, according to Aronson. “A lot of these PSA members are our partners. When we deploy systems across the country and the globe, they partner with us. To share with our partners helps us all.”

About the author

Tom LeBlanc - Editor-in-Chief, CI,
Tom has been covering electronics integration since 2003. Prior to being named editor-in-chief of CI, he was senior writer and managing editor of CE Pro. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Follow him on Twitter @leblanctom.
View all posts by Tom LeBlanc
Social Bookmark or Share This
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Windows Live
  • LinkedIn
  • Evernote
  • E-mail

  • Latest
  • Blogs
  • Photos
  • Resources
Like an Owl, See Bad Guys at Night with IC Realtime’s Improved Nighttime Clarity

IC Realtime's I-Sniper HD Over Coax Cameras, I-Sniper IP Bullet and Dome Cameras and I-Sniper High-Performance IP PTZ Cameras have been improved with greater levels of light gathering to enable the products to remain in color mode for a longer length of time.

6 Principles DasNet Swears By (and You Should Too) to Avoid Business Blunders
Extron Room Agent Software Now Integrates with Microsoft Office 365
The Key to Bringing Better Connectivity to Your Rural Clients
Auralex Acoustics’ SonoFiber Material Is On a Roll When It comes to Treating Open Spaces
View more news
The Key to Bringing Better Connectivity to Your Rural Clients

Your rural businesses clients can have difficulty maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly global economy if their employees' devices are poorly connected. Signal boosters are one way to improve connection and reception.

8 Secrets to Prioritizing, Targeting and Measuring Partnership ROI
5 Ways Businesses Are Benefitting from the IoT
How Offering Environmental Detection Can Open RMR Floodgates
26 Business Management Tips You Need to Put Into Action Now
View more blog posts
Inside the High-Tech Real Time Crime Center That’s Keeping 110,000 City Residents Safe

Equipped with a CineMassive visualization system featuring four high-resolution video walls and several auxiliary displays, the Miami Gardens Police Department's Real Time Crime Center allows officials to monitor and stop crime quickly and efficiently.

The Inside Story: How DasNet Excels Against the Odds
NanoLumens ‘Tech-Orates’ Delaware North’s New Corporate Headquarters
Here’s to Whiskey and System Programming Blending Perfectly
How Christie Laser Projection Led to $200K-Plus in New Net Revenue
View more photo galleries

Recent comments

The amount of equipment used in a US stadium must be incredible now. Just so that a bunch of guys can throw…

Posted by Wayne Hyde on 2016 10 24 · commented on
'What Bill Belichick’s Anti-tech Tirade Says about AV'.

Why is this happening?

The answers are immediately apparent to anyone in this trade. To begin with:…

Posted by Ronnie Anne Spang on 2016 10 23 · commented on
'What Bill Belichick’s Anti-tech Tirade Says about AV'.

The premise of the article is a good one. We technologists must do a better job of creating AV solutions that…

Posted by Greg on 2016 10 23 · commented on
'What Bill Belichick’s Anti-tech Tirade Says about AV'.

Excellent review of an outstanding USAV Integration partner.  David and the DasNet team exemplify our…

Posted by K.C. Schwarz on 2016 10 23 · commented on
'How Technical, Business and Military Smarts Helped DasNet Excel Against the Odds'.