Like many other industries in the United States, the electronic security and life safety industry is experiencing a workforce shortage. There just aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the multitude of jobs on the market. While this presents a challenge for the industry, it provides obvious benefits to high school students who are looking for either a first-time job or life-long career. IRVING, Texas (Aug. 22, 2018) – Like many other industries in the United States, the electronic security and life safety industry is experiencing a workforce shortage. There just aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the multitude of jobs on the market. While this presents a challenge for the industry, it provides obvious benefits to high school students who are looking for either a first-time job or life-long career.
To help high school students and graduates learn more about the industry and the benefits of working within it, four members of the Electronic Security Association (ESA) came together to discuss the unlimited opportunities open to students and graduates alike. The participants are industry leaders from different walks of life who embarked upon their career through different pathways. The common denominator is that they all embody the success, the passion and the fulfillment the industry has to offer.
Aaron Whitaker, President and Founder of Preventia Security
Before Aaron Whitaker became founder and president of Preventia Security in middle Tennessee, he was recruited as a college freshman by a pest control agency to sell services door-to-door. “I am responsible for a lot of dead bugs,” Whitaker says with a smile.
“There were similarities in the electronic security sales model that intrigued me. I saw the success the security industry is experiencing and decided to jump in and start my own business without any experience except the transferable knowledge from my previous job.”
Today, Preventia Security is a residential and commercial dealer with 22 employees. “My personal path has been organic growth combined with acquisition,” Whitaker says.
Melissa Brinkman, CEO of Custom Alarm
Melissa Brinkman grew up in the industry. Her dad started Custom Alarm in Rochester, Minn., but Brinkman originally chose a career in the hospitality industry before moving back to Rochester to raise her famil y and rejoin the business. She started taking on different responsibilities, working her way up to CEO – a position she has held for four years. “I was able to draw upon the intangible skills of customer service I learned in the hospitality industry and transfer this knowledge back into the security industry,” Brinkman says.
Rick Seymour, CEO of CSI
Rick Seymour, CEO of CSI in Palm Beach, Fl., was attracted to the recurring revenue opportunities. He acquired his business in 2005 and increased revenue by 102 percent in just five years. CSI is now the largest electronic security provider in Jupiter Island, Fla. Seymour also plays an active role recruiting students to the industry.
“It’s just fascinating. There are many different job opportunities from sales and marketing to technician, engineering, operations and logistics. There are also a wide variety of companies you can work for – from locally owned to one of the big giants.” Seymour says. “Once you obtain a skillset in the electronic security and life safety industry, you can pretty much go to any city in the United States and get a job.”
Eric Widner, General Manager of LOUD Security
Eric Widner worked his way up to general manager of LOUD Security Systems in Kennesaw, Ga. He left an industry in which he wasn’t happy and didn’t find fulfilling. “Ironically, I was hired for a sales position because that is what was needed at the time – but I’m more of an operations guy – put me in the field, give me a task and I can make it happen,” Widner says. So, he moved into operations, spent a couple of years in the field capitalizin g on industry growth into new technologies and is now general manager. “My career path with LOUD Security Systems is a great example of the ability to capitalize on your individual talents and define success on your own terms,” Widner says.
These industry leaders provide insights into career paths many high school students have not considered.
Seymour encourages high school students – especially those who don’t have a career in mind – to consider a technical or trade school as a start.
“There is this perception that to be considered a success in life, you need the traditional four-year college degree, when in reality, a career in a trade can be both fulfilling and financially lucrative,” he counsels.
It’s a well-known fact that college students are graduating with an average of $40,000 in debt.
“After a year in trade school learning a skill in our industry, you come in as a technician, making $30,000 – $35,000 as an entry-level salary. Invest a year or two to learn a trade and you are going to have a skill that can generate revenue for you for the rest of your life,” says Seymour.
“If you don’t know what you want to do, why go into debt trying to figure it out?” echoes Widner. “Start with a skill or a trade where you can make money, keep busy and move forward while figuring it out.”
Brinkman points to the benefits of on-the-job training.
“Companies of all sizes are investing in their employees right out of the gate. A high school graduate can get paid to learn, while exploring different types of jobs. It’s almost a no-brainer,” she says. “Technology is always changing, and the way we deliver service to our customers keeps evolving – which creates new growth opportunities.”
“We understand most students today, regardless of their level of education, would like to know there is a career path where they can grow professionally, and there is a structured path to success.” Whitaker adds. “We are going to invest in you, so you can have that path – as well as give you an opportunity to shine.”
ESA is walking the talk of its members
ESA’s National Training School (NTS) is embarking upon a groundbreaking high school partnership in Pennsylvania, introducing intrusion and fire training to high schools, with plans to expand across the nation, delivering training in a hybrid format combining online and in-person instructor-led classes in areas where more hands-on instruction is needed.
“High school students are full of potential and are still making decisions about their future — decisions we feel we can impact, by exposing them to a lucrative and fulfilling career path in the electronic security and life safety industry,” says ESA Chief Knowledge Officer, Michelle Yungblut.