Security Distributing & Marketing Recognizes RFI
as 2012 Systems Integrator of the Year Honoree
Company Owner & CEO Dee Ann Harn is Chair
of ESA’s Executive Management Professionals Group
Irving, Texas (January 8, 2013) — Being a member of the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) professional groups carries a considerable number of benefits, not to the least of which is being able to learn from respected peers. ESA’s Executive Management Professionals (EMP) has the distinction of being led by a chairperson whose company was recently recognized as an industry leader by Security Distributing & Marketing magazine.
Dee Ann Harn is owner and CEO of RFI Communications & Security Systems, which was recently chosen as SDM’s 2012 Systems Integrator of the Year Honoree. The company, which is based in San Jose, Calif., is a diversified multi-systems integrator that has been designing, installing, servicing and monitoring, technology-driven security and fire/life safety solutions for more than 30 years. RFI was singled out for its "innovative new cloud-based services, growth, and demonstrated agility for change,” among other qualities.
Some people talk about spending a "lifetime” in the industry, but in Dee Ann’s case, it’s especially true. She’s been involved in different aspects of the business since the age of 10, when the family started an alarm company in the Bay Area.
"We started the business at the kitchen table,” she says. "My father wanted a way to put my brother and me through college, and it was an opportunity that he and my mother decided to take.”
Being part of a growing business meant doing virtually anything that happened to come up. "I became the secretary every day when I got home from school,” she says. "I had to answer the phone, and I also worked with my dad on the bookkeeping during the weekends.”
She even reports having to crawl through attics on more than one occasion: "I didn’t have to do a whole bunch of them, but when they needed somebody small to get wires out to the very edge, that was usually me.”
Fast-forward through a wide range of experiences (and the college education), and the 10-year-old grew into a role as leader of a company with approximately 250 employees. RFI has regional offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif., as well as Reno, Nev. and Seattle, Wash. The corporate office and CSAA Five Diamond Certified central station are both located in San Jose.
She is quick to give credit to her management team, and to her father, who handed over the reins of full ownership earlier this year. "I don’t pretend to be the one who knows everything,” she says. "It’s a difficult thing for an entrepreneur to pass along something that they have created, and I give my Dad a lot of credit. When he decided to step out of the business, we had a strong group of people in place with over 90 years of combined industry experience. We always talk about the fact that we grew up together in the business. We’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and do the things that we’re asking others to do.”
That characteristic has served Dee Ann well as chair of ESA’s Executive Management Professionals. Group members are involved in strategic and financial leadership of electronic security integration and monitoring companies. Members gain valuable insight, ideas and networking opportunities focused on such topics as company valuations, financing, business models, mergers and acquisitions, human capital development, executive leadership and change management.
"One of the benefits of the EMP group is taking advantage of the different perspectives that people have,” she says. "It’s great for group members to be able to talk with different people from different parts of the country, to pick their brain and learn from their experiences.”
As the industry is developing and changing so rapidly, she says, people are becoming much freer about discussing their experience, and how they’re reacting to the change. By becoming involved with the EMP group, she found an opportunity to continue the combination of providing input and listening to the experiences of others.
"I learn a lot from listening,” she says. "As a child of an owner, I was fortunate to be brought along to a lot of meetings and other situations that allowed me to become a good listener. When you’re hearing other discussions, you’re able to refer back to things you’ve heard before.”
Dee Ann says the EMP group provides information about "a higher level” of best practices. When you’re looking from that executive level, she says, you want to be able to see what she calls "the bigger picture.”
"As an executive or an owner, or as somebody who is responsible for the success of your organization, what are the things that you worry about, or that keep you up at night?” she asked. "When I look at my reasons for becoming part of the group, and encouraging other executives to join, it’s because of that higher-level perspective.”
Qualified regular and associate members can apply for free membership in the group at www.ESAweb.org/EMP. For more information, contact Shannon Murphy, ESA Vice President of Sales & Marketing, at Shannon.Murphy@ESAweb.org or 972-807-6835.
Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at www.ESAweb.org.