Joanne Rowe, ADI Toronto; Roger Miller, Northeastern Protection Service; and Richard McMullen, FCi are the latest inductees into SP&T News’ annual Security Hall of Fame.
By Neil Sutton
SP&T News introduced its annual Hall of Fame issue in 2015 to highlight the accomplishments of security professionals who have given back to their industry on a consistent basis. Whether it’s through business success, above-and-beyond attention to customers, or volunteer efforts for charities and associations, these individuals got our attention for all the right reasons. We’re very pleased to include three more professionals this year. Read on to learn more about what they do, how they got there, and the life lessons we can all appreciate.
Joanne Rowe, branch manager, ADI Toronto
Joanne Rowe might best be described as a coach. Whether she is dealing with staff, customers, vendors or the kids’ soccer league she’s coached for the last 15 years, she is pushing others to succeed.
Rowe is the long-time manager of the Toronto branch of ADI, a company she has worked for in one iteration or another for 23 years.
Rowe’s first job in security was as a part-time customer service representative at Richardson Electronics. “I was young and trying to figure out what to do with my life,” says Rowe. She was hired in October 1995 and within two months, transitioned to full time.
Two years later, Richardson purchased a distributor of low voltage equipment, Burtek Systems Corp., and Rowe was tasked with learning the new computer system and training sales people. Later that year, she took over management of Burtek’s Toronto branch warehouse, and created a returns department.
In 1999, Rowe was promoted to operations manager for Canada, responsible for designing the layout of Burtek’s branches across Canada. In 2002, the Toronto location moved into a larger facility — a point of pride for Rowe who says that managing that transition was “probably the best experience of my life … working with contractors and seeing the facility come together — making it one of the best distributors for Canada.”
In 2007, Rowe was part of another major transition when Honeywell bought Burtek and merged it with distributor ADI. The Burtek name was eventually dropped from the branding and Rowe became the branch manager for ADI Toronto, a position she hold to this day.
“The reason why I came into that role was bringing the two teams together: ADI staff and Burtek staff for Toronto, and really focusing on the customer service and vendor relations,” explains Rowe. “That was one of the best things [about] the new role.”
Rowe is known as a person who can hold a team together and motivate every member to succeed. As a long-standing member of the security industry, particularly in a pivotal role for a major distributor, she has fostered countless relationships with people and companies. “…Sales people, manufacturers’ reps or vendors — they either worked with me or for me at one point in their career,” says Rowe. “I think I’ve been able to continue those relationships over the years. Everything just kind of fell into place.”
A recurring role for Rowe is one is event organizer and trade show coordinator. Every year, ADI’s Toronto location hosts an expo event, showcasing its vendors’ latest products. Hosted early in the year, typically March, it’s an opportunity to display new technology and set the tone for the year. “It’s fresh every year,” says Rowe. “It’s been extremely successful. Over the last seven or eight years, we’ve had a substantial number of vendors wanting to sign up for our show.” The number of training sessions hosted at the expo has also steadily increased over the years, up to about 20 today.
Rowe is hands-on when it comes to ADI’s presence at other trade shows like CANASA’s annual Security Summit Central in Toronto in October. During that week, ADI hosts a fundraiser to support a charitable organization. For Rowe, charitable endeavours are a way to give back and strengthen team relationships — the Toronto office has raised funds to help food banks, women’s shelters, homeless shelters, terminally ill children and breast cancer awareness.
Elements of the security industry have changed and evolved over time, but Rowe’s outlook on customer service has remained consistently high. “It’s a mindset and it’s something that I coach,” she says. She encourages her staff to take ownership of their roles. “You might not have all the answers, but as long as you have that confidence, you will succeed. That’s been my attitude my whole career. If I’m jumping in, I’m jumping in with both feet.”
Roger Miller, president, Northeastern Protection Service, Halifax, N.S.
Active participation will only make your business and client relationships stronger. That’s a school of thought that Roger Miller has actively followed throughout his 30-plus year career in security.
Miller was a chair of the Atlantic chapter of the Canadian Society for Industrial Security during its active years. He has also served as the president of the Atlantic chapter of the Council of Private Investigators and has sat on two RCMP advisory boards.
“More recently, I’ve become a CANASA Atlantic council member,” he says. “I think it’s important to participate in the industry. If we’re going to tell our clients that we’re professionals and we know what’s going on in the industry… and we can give them our expertise, it’s up to us to develop our expertise. We can’t do it sitting behind our desks.”
Miller started his career as a security guard in the early 1980s. He learned the basics of security through a 10-week security training program made available through what is now the Nova Scotia Community College.
The course was led by a former U.S. Marine who taught them “everything from your dress and deportment to how to design an alarm system.”
Miller spent five years working with a small, Halifax-area guard company before moving on to Pinkerton as a full-time investigator. He was able to travel extensively throughout eastern Canada and the U.S. — an opportunity he relished. He continued to work at Pinkerton after its acquisition by Securitas in 1999 before accepting a new opportunity to work for a smaller local firm, Northeastern Protection.
Northeastern was founded by Mark Joseph in 1983. Miller and Joseph were friends — and friendly rivals — in the security world. Joseph worked for Canadian retailer Eaton’s as a regional loss prevention manager. He started Northeastern on a part-time basis, but it grew quickly and demanded more of his attention, explains Miller. Joseph eventually made it a full-time business and hired Miller as director of operations and business development in 2001.
“Coming from an international company to a local company, I understood the structure and processes needed to finetune the business,” says Miller. Their two styles meshed well: Joseph was an entrepreneur and eager to expand; Miller is more process-driven.
Unfortunately, Joseph passed away in 2013 after a serious illness. Miller became the company’s president with Joseph’s son Chris working as vice-president.
“The first thing we learned after Mark passed away is we had to show our clients that we had a solid succession plan. And that Mark’s passing — although it would affect us … it couldn’t not affect us — wouldn’t affect their service delivery,” says Miller.
Succession planning and fluidity has remained a vital aspect of the business’s management style, with Miller’s keen focus on operational oversight. Miller is also aware of the personal toll a business like security — with its 24/7 demands — can take on workers, and also their families. “Your family is almost as committed to the business as you are. You have to be prepared that you’re going to be taken away from certain family events because of work. I’ve tried to find that work-life balance.”
Miller’s family has been very supportive over the years, he says. His son has attended security trade shows with him and his daughter received a scholarship through a program run by CANASA. He also credits his co-workers for their dedication as Northeastern continues to grow. “We’re surrounded here by a phenomenal team. If we didn’t have that phenomenal team, we wouldn’t be as successful.”
Richard McMullen, partner, security solutions, FCi, Ottawa
If you are member of the Canadian Security Association (CANASA), there’s a good chance you know Richard McMullen.
McMullen has been a fixture of the organization for many years, particularly the last four, when he held the role of national president (then past-president). He has also held the position of president for his local chapter in Ottawa, as well as president of the Ontario board.
If you ask McMullen how this all came to be, he might tell you it started with his keen organizing skills. As a CANASA member, he has attended numerous events over the decades of his career. When he volunteered to help organize the organization’s Ottawa golf tournaments “the next thing I know, I’m being elected president of the Ottawa sub-chapter.”
McMullen’s strong facility for organization and his almost unwavering ability to volunteer his time for industry causes has garnered him a reputation as someone who can get things done.
McMullen first started in the security business in 1982 when he was still in high school. He worked part-time in the alarm monitoring business, first for Golden Triangle Alarms, then Pro-Tech Security, both in the Ottawa area. He continued working evenings, Fridays and weekends even while he attended Carleton University, then Ottawa University, where he studied law.
He says he considered a career in law enforcement, but ultimately opted for security, an industry where he already had considerable experience and which also employed his two older brothers.
McMullen joined Honeywell, working on policies and procedures, travelling across the country visiting stations.
“I got to do a lot of special projects with Honeywell, which I thought was kind of cool,” explains McMullen. “I’d get to spend sometimes a couple of months in Toronto or Calgary, doing all kinds of different things. Policies and procedures was a big one. I helped to develop our own monitoring procedures and operation guide with a small group of five or six of us. We’d go and meet in different parts of the country. It was a good education for a young person.”
During his tenure at Honeywell, McMullen sat on the company’s president’s council. “That was a pretty good experience,” he says. “We’d have quarterly meetings and go down to Minneapolis and meet with senior executives. They got a chance to be our mentors and champions for our individual business units.”
He stayed on with the company through a major reorganization when ADT acquired the Canadian portion of Honeywell’s protection division in 2000. In 2007, McMullen was approached with a new opportunity — an Ottawa-based network cabling and IT infrastructure services firm called Fleming Communications Inc. (FCi) that was looking to expand into the security industry.
The economy hit hard times in 2007-2008, but FCi’s new security division flourished. “We didn’t have anywhere to go but up,” says McMullen, who recently passed his 10-year anniversary with the company. He adds that the security industry’s recent embrace of IP-based infrastructure coincided with FCi’s value proposition. “I thought, here’s a company [that] gets the network. They have the network infrastructure.”
Throughout his career, McMullen has participated in company and industry events, often finding his event management skills useful as an organizer of golf tournaments. In addition to his considerable efforts for CANASA, he has also found time to support the Ottawa branch of the Crimestopper’s organization.
McMullen found himself seated at a table of Crimestoppers members while attending a women in security event about seven years ago. McMullen offered to lend them a hand and turn their Ottawa golf tournament into a fundraiser. When the local chapter president stepped down, McMullen was asked to run. He’s now at the end of his second consecutive term as president.
“It’s a great organization that does tremendous work in the community,” he says. The organization is also close to his heart — his wife works for the Ottawa police in their comms centre. McMullen’s children are now grown and he says he has always encouraged them to take part in volunteer work. Both his sons have helped out at various golf tournaments. His son Stephen in particular has followed McMullen into the industry, and now works full time alongside him at FCi as an estimator.
Reflecting on his career and volunteer work, McMullen can sum it up with a simple but powerful philosophy: “I’ve always tried to give back and do right by people.”
This story appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of SP&T Magazine.