Security Hall of Fame 2016
By Linda Johnson
There are many security professionals operating in Canada who are worthy of significant recognition — people who have given back to their industry by mentoring others, volunteering their free time to develop education programs and contribute to industry associations, or simply have put a positive spin on their careers, which helps to move the industry in the right direction: onward and upward.
By Linda Johnson
SP&T News introduced its Security Hall of Fame last year with three inductees: Bob Price, president of Price’s Alarms; Peter Garnham, president of PGSA; and Fred Dawber, president of Cansec Systems. This year, we have expanded the program and selected five individuals, all of whom have made significant and long-lasting contributions to the security industry and beyond through their business-building skills, positive outlooks, and the encouragement of others. Please join us in acknowledging their success.
— Neil Sutton
Dave Currie, president, Damar Security
Dave Currie knows what it’s like to be the midnight operator at a monitoring station. He often assigned that shift to himself in the early days of his company.
“If it was a quiet shift, I’d be in pretty good shape the next day. If it wasn’t, I was not so good the next day,” says Currie, president of Sarnia, Ont.,-based Damar Security Systems.
Currie had been running his own alarm company part-time for several years when, in 1974, he quit his full-time job and opened his own monitoring station. At first, it was a two-person venture. Currie sold and installed alarms; his wife, Marie, did the accounts and ordering. Damar — a blend of their first names — had begun after a friend’s father’s shop was broken into.
“I didn’t know much about burglar alarm systems,” Currie says. “But I figured it out, built a system from scratch, installed it and connected it into the police department.”
Today, he has more than 80 employees, and the company provides a full range of security services. They also own Security Response Centre, which monitors for independent alarm dealers.
Currie was a founding member of the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) and served as national president. He was one of the first instructors of the Alarm Technician Training program and received the Outstanding Achievement Award for spearheading the National Education Program. In 1999, he received the R.A. Henderson Award. Since 2000, he has worked with ULC, including chairing a monitoring station standard sub-committee.
Currie’s son, Chris, who as a child often accompanied his father on service calls, is now responsible for running the business. The company also has many long-term employees, Currie says, who are a main reason for its success.
“I’m blessed that I have a really good crew of people,” he says. “It’s a successful business that can stand on its own.”
George Fletcher, co-founder, Mission 500
When it comes to some of his biggest achievements, George Fletcher takes care to give credit where he thinks it belongs. Mission 500 is a case in point.
The charity works through the security industry to provide food, clothing and education to needy children in countries around the world. Fletcher launched Mission 500 in 2007 at the suggestion of a friend, Richard Hahn, who remembered a program Fletcher himself had co-founded in 1998, when he was working in Latin America.
“It was about corporate social responsibility, helping communities in need, especially because we were doing business in Latin America, where there’s so much inequality. We wanted to offer something in exchange,” says Fletcher, Mission 500 volunteer advisory board member.
The charity achieved its original goal — raising enough money to sponsor 500 children through World Vision — by 2012. Today, the organization sponsors more than 1,000 children in five countries and organizes fundraising events, such as a charity 5K at ISC West.
Born in Canada, Fletcher spent his early years in South Africa. After returning to Canada, he started up Tronex International Security, which for about 12 years created distribution channels for mainly Canadian technology manufacturers throughout Latin America.
After a few years of consulting, he went on to work with his wife, who had started a security exhibition in Mexico. Today, he divides his time between Mission 500 and various business interests.
Fletcher has served on the board of SIA (Security Industry Association). At the suggestion of Marc Mineau, a CANASA past president, he launched the Latin America Security Association (ALAS), which has trained four to five thousand security installers.
Fletcher, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., says his philosophy is always to keep striving to make things better. “I could work 24/7 on Mission 500, and it wouldn’t be enough time. There’s a lot of work ahead.”
Howard Garr, president and CEO, A.P.I. Monitoring
When Howard Garr had a robbery at his house and a break-in shortly afterwards at his office, he decided it would a great idea to go into the security business.
“It was a learning curve. We had no experience in the industry at all,” says Garr, president and CEO of Concord, Ont.,-based A.P.I. Monitoring.
Starting as an installer in the early 1980s, Garr soon bought the answering service that was providing monitoring to his company, along with a few alarm companies. A few years later, they built their own monitoring station across the street, and in 1991, built their first state-of-the-art station in Concord.
“That was huge. It was unique at the time because we had to invest in infrastructure, proper equipment and 24/7 monitoring,” he recalls. “Our base was growing. At that time, we were probably up to about 300 to 400 companies that we were monitoring for, and today we’re just passing 2,500 companies throughout North America.”
They would also build stations in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Montreal, as well as two in the United States. A.P.I. is now getting ready to open a new, main monitoring centre in Toronto in January.
Along the way, Garr’s children joined the company — first Josh, as director of sales, then Aaron, director of operations, and Rachel, administrative director.
“I think it’s amazing they cared enough about the business that they all wanted to be involved,” he says. “They knew it would be a stressful lifestyle. But it has its rewards.”
Garr says he is a success because of his employees, their willingness to work 24/7 and their commitment to the customers. “It’s team work. It’s not just me. They have achieved heights that we never imagined,” he says. “Currently, we’re employing 400 from coast to coast. And they are doing a great job.”
Kim Caron, director of business development, Armstrong’s National Alarm Monitoring
Kim Caron applied for her first job at a monitoring company on a Wednesday and began working there on the Thursday. She was an operator and not really impressed with the irregular hours and long shifts. But she stayed and, after a year, was promoted to manager.
“Throughout my career, I have kept jumping up another level and doing more things. What intrigued me was the ability to grow with the industry and a company. It made me want to stay,” says Caron, director of business development at Dartmouth, N.S.,-based Armstrong’s National Alarm Monitoring.
She went on to work for another, family-run business, AAA Alarms. After ten years, it was bought out by Manitoba Telecom Services. During the next decade, she rose to become director of operations. In 2007, she joined Armstrong’s, which was about to expand nationally.
“I love the culture of the family-run business, and I knew that would be the right company for me,” she says. “I don’t have the 7/24-hour pressure of being on call, but I do have the day-to-day making sure dealers are happy and trying to find that next sale.”
Caron joined CANASA in 1991 and became president in 2007 — the first woman in that post. During her term, she recalls, they worked very hard with the national office and executive director to “become more empowered and lead the association.” She is currently chair of the national monitoring committee. She was also director of SIAC for eight years from 2003.
During her career, she says, she has always shared as much as she can about her experience and knowledge.
“I think I’ve made a difference. I hope I’ve mentored people to grow in the industry. I’ve tried to encourage them,” she says “It’s a great industry to be in, and it’s given me a great career. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Peter Levoy, vice-president of channel sales, Anixter Canada
Peter Levoy’s 32-year career at Anixter Canada took a major turn 14 years ago when the company, looking for opportunities to diversify, realized the physical security industry was on the brink of a huge transformation.
“The exciting opportunity we saw was based on technology changes that were about to happen because of evolving standards and it was leading into easier plug-and-play types of security networks,” says Levoy, vice-president of channel sales at Mississauga, Ont.-based Anixter Canada.
Levoy started at Anixter in 1984 in Montreal in product management and later joined marketing, becoming vice-president of marketing in 2004. He became vice-president of channel sales in 2011 and is based in Ottawa.
Since 1993, he has also been an active member of BICSI and was Canadian Regional Director from 2011 to 2015. He believes the work the professional association does to promote education and knowledge-sharing through courses, conferences and other activities for those in the information and communication technology sector is extremely important.
Currently, he chairs the BICSI Cares Committee. The organization raises money for children’s charities. During a conference, they collect donations and present all funds raised to a small children’s charity located near the conference site. “I’ll have representatives of the charity come in and attend the closing ceremonies of the conference. They come up on stage, and we flip over the big cheque,” Levoy says.
For his work with BICSI, he was recognized recently with the 2016 Larry G. Romig Committee Member of the Year Award.
One of Levoy’s most meaningful accomplishments, he says, was earning his Registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) certification, a BICSI designation. He is also proud of becoming VP of marketing at Anixter and of his work at BICSI, which he plans to continue.
“It’s important to give back to the city we hold the conferences in,” he says. “It’s important to give to those in need.”
Linda Johnson is a freelance writer based in Toronto.