Charles Spencer of ESA Member Company, NoBi Security & Fire Systems, has been in the security industry for 40 years. Although he never intentionally set out to work in the industry, he has since become a passionate proponent for the work of security and life safety professionals.
Spencer’s family business, started by his mother and father in 1971, was a sales and warehouse operation for the first seven years of its existence.
Just a year after the company started, Spencer started working with NoBi – named after the founders, Norma and Bill. About five years after Spencer started at NoBi, an individual from the security industry asked the company if they were interested in selling security systems.
“We said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give it a try,’” says Spencer.
He didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he agreed to this endeavor. According to Spencer, the security operations quickly became the main focus of the family business.
“It just kept growing and growing. And the more we learned and the more customers we gained, the bigger part of the business it became,” says Spencer. “I did it all [in the early days]. I would sell one day, put on my jeans and install two or three days later. This was kind of my project that I was given to develop, and [through it] I learned product installation, sales – the whole ball of wax.”
The company added teams for installation, sales and technical work as they grew and officially shifted their focus to security. According to Spencer, although business was booming, it was about more than just the numbers.
“My father and I thought 'This is an industry that's not going away, and there's always going to be a need for it,’” says Spencer. “It's something we can do that would be beneficial to the community and an asset to our customers, Police and Fire departments and everybody else. It was just kind of a win-win for everybody.”
Having grown up in a town near the business, Spencer had roots in the area. He moved his family to Elkhart to raise them in the same town where he worked, and quickly became involved in the community. He joined the initial Elkhart County Crime Stoppers board and served for 25 years, and his brother, Rich, served on the board after him.
In addition, NoBi employees worked closely with the town and county to develop agreeable alarm ordinances for the area.
“That was nice, to be able to communicate with our council for the city alarm ordinance and the county sheriff's department for the county ordinance,” says Spencer. “They were willing to use the model ordinance that came from the ESA (called the NBFAA at the time). They made some fairly good, doable ordinances that allowed us to function, be an asset to them and work together.”
Spencer said he first worked with Elkhart county, where his company obtained the sixth license issued from there. Later, he worked with the neighboring county of Marshall to help implement its new ordinance by creating forms and collecting records.
NoBi strives to be the “local guys,” according to Spencer. This attitude shows in the company’s involvement with the local government, but also in the day-to-day operations of the business. They are proud of their work, and hold monthly meetings where the employees gather to share success stories and celebrate what they’re doing for the community.
“[We’ll hear from] someone who's maybe saved a house from frozen pipes, or once in a while we catch a criminal, or deter a criminal. It’s everything from water in the basement to all [kinds of] different things. To us that's the bottom line, that's why we exist – to help those people, and to have those kinds of stories,” says Spencer. “It's a great industry. The success stories that we've had over the years makes it all worth it. That's what makes us passionate about it. When you really help somebody, that's a good feeling.”
Spencer and NoBi security are recognized as Passionate Security professionals by ESA because of their commitment to their community and involvement with local government and protective agencies.
Charles Spencer has made ESX a regular event for himself and his team, and you can see him there again at ESX 2018 in Nashville.
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