The family-owned and operated alarm monitoring company invests in its employees' training and education so they can perform at their peak. By Jason Unger
Security Central, based in Statesville, N.C., is an alarm monitoring service company with a unique background.
In 1963, owner Ralph Brown started a service patrol for the newly created Lake Norman Country Club, walking the community of affluent homes every night. After seeing the opportunity of installing electronic security systems in homeowners' houses, he began installing Dictograph systems.
As the technology changed, Brown had the foresight to purchase the city of Statesville's central office, says Don Childers, Director of Technical Training for Security Central. It had a little garage, fuel storage, and 500 pairs of copper coming into it, and became the company's central state/remote station headquarters and installation business office.
"He grew the company step by step by step, very methodologically to where he was able to become very successful,” says Childers.
A lot of that success is due to the company's investment and belief in proper training and education for its 200+ employees who handle around 300,000 accounts.
The focus on education and training is apparent to any potential customer visiting Security Central's website, which outlines their procedures:
All new operators are trained by our resident certified Security Industry Association (SIA) and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc. (APCO) instructor. (APCO certifies 911 dispatchers.) The first week of training, new operators spend 40 hours in a classroom setting. They have access to a simulated central station, set up on a separate computer system, where each new operator practices his/her skills. This provides invaluable experience as the traffic flow, type of signals received, and calls are replicated from actual experiences occurring in the central station. The second week, these operators are placed in the central station with a qualified, experienced operator for supervised hands-on experience. The third week, the new operator is evaluated by the instructor to be certain all skills have been mastered.
Once a quarter, all central station supervisors and operators attend a mandatory refresher class. During each refresher, we review the latest technology at Security Central as well as review procedures and address any concerns that may have been expressed.
"We want to do our jobs to the best of our ability," says Childers. "We're a life safety company."
Childers, who is an NTS instructor (and who was in South Carolina to teach a Certified Alarm/Security Technician - Level 1 course when we spoke), has been with Security Central for 19 years, handles licensing training for the company's operators. He "keeps them trained so they can keep the job,” he says.
Cathy McBride, Security Central's Central Station Manager, does all of the operator training, teaching new employees about standards, procedures, company policies and more. "She'll help them understand how [everything] works,” says Childers.
The commitment to training has paid off for the company's employees, says Childers. "They really appreciate the training we provide them because it helps them fully understand what their job is and what they do," he says.
"It's almost more of an emotional investment in our employees to let them know we care about them," says Childers. "We think it makes them a better employee."
When your employees are trained, says Childers, they recognize the company's commitment to them and pay it back.
"It's showing the employee that we're investing in them as an employee – that we want to keep them," he says. "The best way to keep them is to teach them."
The company has even had some second-generation employees – mothers and daughters – working there.
"I think the majority of our employees look forward to when I do training with them," says Childers. "They know it's not a waste of time."
The effect training has on employees is pretty obvious, says Childers, comparing the before and after. "The biggest thing I see is confidence -- the ability to make a decision and know why they make that decision," he says. "It's amazing … it's like a transformation."
Security Central, which is still owned by Ralph and Christine Brown, invests in employees' education beyond the office, helping with tuition and books for off-site education. "Education doesn't end because it's 5 o clock or the end of your shift, says Childers.