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.

Article


“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
  • Del.icio.us
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Windows Live
  • LinkedIn
  • Evernote
  • E-mail


  • Latest
  • Blogs
  • Photos
  • Resources
White Paper:
Your #1 Source for Expanding Your Recurring-Revenue Practice

Adding to your service offering is challenging. We get it. ConnectWise has helped countless technology solution providers reconfigure their business for the future by adding new practice areas and building monthly recurring revenue.

Webcast: Discover the Secrets of Leveraging Third-Party Labor
Webcast: How to Build Your Broadcast Technology Capabilities
White Paper: Ignorance, Defiance on ADA Compliance Among Regulatory Nightmares
White Paper: Secrets to Installing Outdoor Audio-Video Safely
White Paper: New Standard Revs Up Networking Game
White Paper: 7 Tips for Rolling Out University Digital Signage
White Paper: From Chaos to Control - Your Guide to Business Efficiency
View more papers or webcasts


Recent comments

Excellent summary Mike.. in particular that the size and prominent placement of video walls and tiled displays…

Posted by LyleBunn on 2016 08 22 · commented on
'Q & A: Mvix Explains Why You Should Choose Video Walls Over Digital Signage'.

IMS Technology Services has the privilege of making the list for the 5th year in a row.  This year #4532. …

Posted by Michael Shinn on 2016 08 21 · commented on
'Herman Integration Services Named No. 110 on the Inc. 5000 2016 List'.

Congrats to the entire 40 Under 40 Class of 2016.

Posted by Christopher Neto on 2016 08 17 · commented on
'40 CI Influencers Under 40: Class of 2016'.

Thank YOU. It was a lot of fun. And congrats on having the most brightly colored beer.

Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 2016 08 16 · commented on
'The Evolution of Media: Why It Matters to the Industry'.