Montgomery, AL-based Creative Security Systems supports its employees’ desire for training and education, and happily foots the bill.
Shelton Mangum’s love of electronics got him involved in the family business – Creative Security Systems, LLC (CSS) – founded by his parents in 1973. But he says he didn’t understand it all at first … at least not until he started educating himself.
After taking a course in industrial electronics, Mangum saw NTS offered a certification course he wanted, and he soon became a member of the second graduating class for Level II A and B. After that, he says, he took every course he possibly could.
"The classes I took did me a lot of good,” says Mangum.
When his parents were running CSS, education came from the school of "hard knocks,” he says, learning as you’re working. But when he joined the company in the mid-1980s, he brought his positive training and education experiences with him. If it worked for him, then it’d work for the company’s other employees.
Now that he’s been running CSS for 10 years, the company’s 15 employees are encouraged and supported in any training and education they want to pursue.
"Any type of class they want to take, we’ll let them do it,” he says.
"Education is in the forefront. We're always trying to better ourselves and become experts in the field we're working in."
Alabama’s legislation requires Certified Alarm/Security Technician – Level 1 certification within the first year of employment, but Mangum says the company goes way beyond that. Employees will be factory trained, get NICET training for fire alarm systems, take extra training for troubleshooting systems, and more.
All of the techs have gone through Fire Alarm Installation Methods (FAIM), Troubleshooting, Service and Maintenance (TSM), Video System Technologies (VST) or Life Safety Code (LSC). "And, of course the company pays for that," says Mangum.
It’s a generous offer from CSS, and not only do the employees appreciate it, they use it to their benefit.
One employee, Mangum says, wanted to get his degree in electronics, and CSS paid for it, in exchange for a commitment to the company for a number of years.
"If they see something that will help them … we'll [pay for it]," says Mangum.
"Education is the key.”
"These guys are hungry for knowledge," says Mangum. They jump at opportunities to be educated, "especially since they don't have to pay for it."
"If you educate your employees, it benefits the company because they're going to know more about the disciplines they're in, be more efficient at their jobs, install a system that's more reliable, and put it in in a more efficient timespan," he says.
"They look forward to these classes. When we send them to a class, they look forward to it."
It's also an incentive to the employees -- to get a company vehicle, to get a pay raise, to get a promotion. They understand the more knowledge they have, the higher they're going to go in the company, he says.
For a smaller, family-run business, training and education is what separates CSS from larger competitors. "We win big jobs because our employees are trained and they are out there to take care of their customers' needs," says Mangum.
"The employees we have are experienced employees -- 25, 28 years. They are not 1-year technicians," he says. "We want the customers to know that -- we let them know."
Mangum credits the company’s success on their investment in training.
"We wouldn't be competing against our competitors if we didn't have the education and experience of our employees,” he says. "You can't run a business with inexperienced, uneducated employees."
If you did, you'd get a system installed that doesn't work, the consumer is going to lose trust in the company, and as a soon as their contract is over, they'll be looking for somebody else to take over that system, he says.
"Without the education, your company is on a road to failure," says Mangum. "It cannot survive in this workplace without having the education, the knowledge, the experience, the expertise in your discipline.
"With the desire to know more and be better, you're on the road to success."