No, I Insist
“You’re getting it whether you like it or not.”
In a fateful conversation between Lew Schwander – former residential sales manager at ESA Member Company B Safe Security – and his son, the father insisted that his son had to get a monitored carbon monoxide detector installed in his home.
Schwander knew how important this was for his son’s safety and the safety of his family. Within the year, he would be proven right.
Pulling the Dad Card
Briefly before he retired, Schwander sat down with his son to discuss putting a security and life safety system in his family’s home. The son reportedly did not believe the family needed carbon monoxide detectors.
“This was something that Lew insisted on, telling his son ‘you’re getting it whether you like it or not.’ His son replied ‘we don’t need it, we’ve got them from the hardware store, what’s the big deal,‘” says Neil Appel, vice president of sales and marketing at B Safe. “When the installers came, they put them in anyways.”
It was certainly a good thing they insisted on installing those detectors. In November of 2018, the B Safe-installed carbon monoxide detector in the son’s home in Elkton, Maryland alerted the company’s monitoring center of a carbon monoxide leak in the middle of the night.
Schwander’s daughter-in-law and her child were home sleeping, while his son was working the night shift at a nearby hospital.
“I believe as loud as it was, they woke up, but they weren’t about to go run around anywhere. When carbon monoxide affects you, you kind of ignore those symptoms – you’re tired, you don’t feel well, you’re nauseous and a little confused so you think ‘I’ll go back to sleep,‘” says Appel.
Dispatchers sent help to the family’s residence to wake them up and clear out the house before the exposure to the harmful gas could have proven fatal for the family.
The next day, everyone at the office celebrated the fact that their coworker’s family was saved. Although these feelgood stories happen almost every day for alarm companies, it’s not as often that an incident like this hits so close to home.
“This went through the building and the entire company in seconds, literally,” says Appel. “Emails and congratulations were all over the place. Then we went back to work two minutes later because we’ve got to do it for strangers, too.”
A Personal Philosophy
Schwander wouldn’t let his son’s home go without the complete system because he is a firm believer in putting life safety first.
Coworkers have noted Schwander’s constant insistence on selling life safety, to the point that sometimes he all but refused to sell a system to the customer if they would not purchase life safety devices.
“Lew sat down with every customer and pretty much stopped if they weren’t interested in life safety,” says Appel. “He would explain to them, ‘I’ll sell you whatever you want, but I’m uncomfortable and unhappy. The most important thing I can do is this.’ He would give the devices away as incentives if he had to.”
The philosophy Schwander followed when selling systems is a core part of B Safe, and was multiplied by his teachings to the residential sales team.
B Safe employees’ passion for life safety was further amplified when the system Schwander sold to his own family saved their lives. The reminder of why the company’s insistence on safety is so important was welcome.
“There’s all these products out there that aren’t as sexy as the electric doorbell or lock or thermostat, which we have and we think they’re terrific – they’re fun. But it’s a challenge for the sales team because people come in and they haven’t seen a commercial on TV to go buy a carbon monoxide detector. They’ve seen a commercial that says ‘unlock your door, turn the heat down, turn on the water in the kitchen,‘” says Appel.
After the good news of Schwander’s saved family made its way through the office, Schwander returned to speak at the company and share the story of how his insistence on safety paid off, showing just how crucial the less “sexy” parts of residential projects can be.
“When Lew came to our sales meeting and told everybody the story, we kind of felt like it was our family that had been saved. We were really motivated by that," says Appel.
In addition to reigniting some passions in the company, Schwander was honored at Resideo Connect in 2019 for selling the lifesaving system. Larry King, the popular television host, delivered the announcement of the award and told the story of Schwander’s superb sale. The exemplary leader’s contribution even played a part in earning B Safe the Life Safety Award at the event.
“Lew is not your typical leader,” Appel says of Schwander, whose legacy endures at the company as he enjoys a well-earned retirement.