Challenge Accepted: How Northland Controls Sells Security Without Selling Fear

Challenge Accepted: How Northland Controls Sells Security Without Selling Fear
Hannah Boone — April 6, 2022

Adventure seekers. Path forgers. Security integrators. That’s not a likely combination, but it is at Northland Controls. In a world obsessed with safety, they pursue security holistically with their eyes ever-forward, seeking what’s beyond the horizon so that companies can proactively meet their duty of care and take the risks that make sense for them. Their story begins in 1982 and was reborn under their current leader Pierre Trapanese in 2005, Northland forged its own path to success, shirking the “successful way” for what they believe is the right way. They are headquartered in Milpitas, California, but have 10 offices all around the world, and have delivered projects to over 85 countries. 


The Northland Way 

Northland’s view on success and how it’s measured is always tied back to their five core values, their values are what they refer to as “The Northland Way.” 

  • Our people. 
  • Be honorable. 
  • Take on challenges
  • Whatever it takes
  • Have fun. 

“What I really like about Northland is that it has a pragmatic approach to security versus an anxiety approach. We are not fear-based. In terms of its business practices and our leadership, we will take risks. For example, investing in new service lines and technologies. And we live true to the values of taking on challenges, and for the purpose of unlocking prosperity and potential.” explains Alethea Odell, Chief Marketing Officer at Northland Controls. 


Challenge Accepted 

I think the spirit of the company is really about taking on challenges,” continues Odell. “It’s tied to our mission ‘To unlock prosperity for all those we touch.’”

Northland has initiatives it calls, “Northland Challenges.” They were started by Pierre. They pick out a country and then about 20 Northlanders travel there. From that point, the challenge is to work your way across the country without the use of technology.  

“So, it’s really about getting out of your comfort zone,” says Odell. “It’s about having to talk to people to navigate your way. That is the true Northland story in a lot of ways, taking on challenges and going outside your comfort zone to summit new peaks of accomplishment.” 


 The Great Security Versus Freedom Question 

When Northland says “prosperity” or “success” they mean unlocking one’s true potential — they believe in order to do that, it requires finding enough security to take the kinds of risks that make us feel alive and soar to new heights.  

When asked about unique challenges our industry faces, Odell answered with the following – “The ever-present debate about which security and safety measures are warranted. What’s ethical, what’s too much, what’s not enough? When does security and safety need to overrule freedom and privacy?”  

Though this conundrum won’t be resolved in this article, you can see how Northland has a vision of framing security as a form of freedom. Which leaves us with a new rhetorical question — “Instead of polarities, can security and freedom be closer to synergies?” 


The Future of Northland 

Northland Controls has big plans to continue to expand its managed services portfolio, which includes tapping into the mid-market. “For the longest time, we’ve had just really large global clients, and we are building our client portfolio in the mid-market section through these new managed services offerings,” Odell says. 

Additionally, Northland plans to leverage their ESA membership to take them to new heights. “There’s a wealth of benefits from our ESA membership, including the ability to engage with other professionals in the electronic security industry. I believe ESA’s CEU programs, certifications, and the guides for state-by-state license requirements will be really helpful to us,” she says.  

“We especially appreciate ESA’s advocacy and legislative efforts. They have developed the infrastructure of committees, security professionals, and influence to have a positive impact when representing the industry’s interests. For example, when the pandemic hit early in early 2020, ESA played a role in ensuring that electronic security and life safety companies would be considered essential workers. This kind of advocacy speaks to us.” 

We’re pleased to have Northland Controls as an ESA member and look forward to the offerings they’ll bring to our network of security professionals. If you’re interested in ESA membership each out to [email protected] for more information.