Jon Sargent’s robust and impressive 44-year career in the electronic security and life safety industry launched, surprisingly, by chance. A young Jon Sargent worked as a security guard for some pretty memorable rock concerts as a teenager — and like many teenagers, Jon had a reckless side.
His temptation: speeding.
He did it so much, he was beginning to rack up some major speeding tickets. His supervisor, Jim Ellis, couldn’t allow Jon to drive the company vehicles any longer, so he had to fire him.
Luckily for Jon, Ellis had just purchased a small security company and needed someone to manage the phones. It was either take the position answering phones or be unemployed, so Sargent graciously accepted the position. What teenage Jon didn’t know then, was that this position would start his amazing career in the electronic security industry.
Sargent has spent decades doing volunteer work in the industry through many associations. He joined the California Alarm Association in 1976 and the Electronic Security Association (formerly NBFAA) in the late 80s. It was during that time that he learned the importance of being a part of industry associations.
“I learned way back in the 1970s that associations gave us an opportunity to learn,” said Sargent. “I knew nothing about this industry and I never would have survived this business without those resources.”
Coming straight out of high school, Sargent had no experience in electronic security, or even in management. After answering phones for a while, he took a job as a central station manager to learn all there was to learn about dispatching alarms.
“I was lucky that my boss supported associations and was fine with me getting involved. It was easy, all I had to do was absorb the business,” said Sargent.
And absorb he did. Now, after over four decades of involvement and nine acquisitions, Sargent has made tremendous strides in the industry. He is proud of his advocacy work and the ground he has stood against threatening legislation with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).
“We’ve been through a few tough legislation fights, but we make progress each and every time.”
Sargent has also been very helpful working with local and state associations dealing with government law makers who wanted to change alarm contracts. He stresses the importance of enforcing alarm contracts for liability reasons. Sargent has collaborated with SIAC, visiting police and sheriffs offices in order to make strides on false alarms and to avoid no-response ordinances.
He served for many years on the Electronic Security Association’s Board of Directors and served on the ESA Executive Committee as secretary. He has served as president of the California Alarm Association and Golden Gate Alarm Association. Sargent has received the CAA’s George A. Weinstock Award and SIAC’s William N. Moody Excellence Award. He has actively participated in law enforcement organizations as a member of six associations throughout the years.
Being honored as the 2016 Weinstock Person of the Year is one of Jon’s proudest industry accomplishments. And while he didn’t join associations for awards, recognition or accolades, he has proven to be both deserving and appreciative of this very prestigious one.
Not only has he evolved over the years, but so have the many industry associations. Now, associations offer leadership and public speaking training, mentorship opportunities, and government understanding.
“It’s important for security professionals to get more involved in the association, to work together and learn more for the benefit of the industry,” said Sargent.
“One of the benchmarks for this award is a lifetime of dedication to the industry and Mr. Sargent personifies that description,” said ESA President, Angela White. “Jon is multifaceted in his knowledge and volunteer spirit. He takes on roles with the utmost commitment and with the betterment of the industry in mind, and shares his knowledge in a manner that benefits our members and the industry in general.”
Earlier this year, Jon announced his official retirement from the industry. Prior to his retirement Sargent handled Industry Relations/Government Affairs for Johnson Controls’ Tyco; he served as an Industry/Law Enforcement Liaison for SIAC and served as the secretary for the ESA Executive Committee.
“I’ve had a great run. I’ve seen this industry through the lens of a teenie tiny company and a worldwide corporation. I really have no regrets -- just fantastic memories.”