Working Retirement

Most people, when they retire from a lifetime of hard work, pursue several adventures they have been dreaming about for years. One of those dreams may be getting out on the open road with your Harley whenever you want. For some, however, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Phil Lake, president of Knight Security, had ridden his Harley about as much as he wanted, when some old colleagues called and ask him to join them in Austin, Texas, to develop and grow a security integration business. As he puts it, “I put in some money and went back to work.”

Knight Security is Texas based, and Texas proud. They have offices in Houston, Dallas, and the corporate office in Austin. Most, but not all, of their work is in Texas.

“Our company goal is to stay in the forefront of technology,” Lake said. “Our focus is technology, delivery and execution. Our mandate is the best service possible to our customers.”

Knowing the Network

Lake has been a part of the overall security network, having worked at Honeywell, Chubb and Siemens. In his travels, the family lived in Austin during one phase of their lives, and so when retirement happened, Austin seemed to be the right place to go. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Lake’s wife had already bought a house in Austin. Neither are native Texans, but they loved it there enough to move back.

What was a Dallas integration team soon added Austin and a corporate headquarters. It also turns out the Chris Hugman, former owner of Safe Sight, sold his business to the Knight Security team, and they were off and running.

“The partnership had identical goals,” Lake said. “We’re really in a service business. Long term relationships are part of our core values, including honor, integrity and service. Sticking to what we do best in offering the customer complete service has allowed us to grow at a 40 percent rate over the last five years.”

“Our best advertisement has been our reputation by word of mouth. It has been a terrific reference for us. We also insist on great partnerships with the manufacturers; all of us respecting a high service level.”

A Brand to Recognize

In 2006, Knight Security was purchased and then merged with Safe Sight. A company of 75 employees faced the economic firestorm of 2008 with heads held high. Knight has more than 4,000 installations in the United States. Their projects have ranged from $1,000 to more than $12.5 million. Three apparent things about Knight Security come to the top quickly. They are dedicated to service and are very ambitious. They also have tapped into the residential security market.

Their installs in the Dallas Metro area includes a laundry list of Who’s Who, not just in Texas but captains of industry who choose to live here. One of the most recent security installs happened in the Texas Panhandle, in Amarillo. The district devoted $3.8 million to a video surveillance system, provided by Knight Security. Installers will place 2,300 cameras across all district campuses. The new system will improve night visibility over the current system.

The board also approved spending about $2.7 million to replace about 600 HVAC units and about $2.1 million to install them. Both projects are part of a $99.45 million bond issue approved by voters in 2013 that primarily addressed security and enrollment growth.

Assistant superintendent Les Hoyt said, “We’re going leap years ahead of where we are with our current technology.”

Knight Security has had some stellar installs over the past few years, and maybe, it’s due to the company’s business plan. For instance, the sales staff are essentially relationship managers, who listens to client’s concerns. The sales staff does not participate in the design, and that is when Knight Security brings on the design engineers to meet the clients. The company also has a dedicated service team, with a service manager in each office.

The service team does not do installs because they focus only on service and responding to the customers’ needs following an install.

Everyone in the Knight Security system is part of an ongoing training program.

“We spend a small fortune to make sure our team is trained and certified,” Lake said. “We also meet with representatives of the IT side; we get early involvement because we don’t want to be at odds with IT.”

Knight Security’s certified staff is comprised of professional engineers, technical professionals and IT network security specialists.

Forming Key Partnerships

Knight Security has some pretty impressive installs and manufacturing partners on their resume. For instance, they work closely with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. They also have an ongoing service agreement to monitor the health of the system. At first glance this might seem like a small opportunity, but there are 11 regions in Texas, meaning there are more than 600 locations. Knight Security connects to every facility to ensure that the security platform is alive and well, and manages access control locally. This project was completed eight months ahead of schedule.

A couple other shining stars for the company were a 4,400 camera install in 2014 and they are the first company to install an S2 access control system in a north Austin hospital. A managementowned company, Knight Security did not wade out into unknown waters, and also knew the industry was truly interested in service that works. Management developed the SecurePlan, which is a service level agreement that includes a same-day service guarantee. Knight Security also has an industry leading SecurePlanHealth, which is a health monitoring system that will detect and remediate system issues proactively. Lake said these guarantees indicate the company commitment to service.

With Knight Security so involved with its clients’ security applications and solutions, they will be monitoring on the clients network, and 60 percent of the time they have already dispatched services before the client even knows there is a problem.

Knight Security also represents many of the manufacturers of leading edge solutions that every in the industry knows very well, including Axis, Sony, Milestone, Genetec, Video Insight, S2 and many others. The company also takes the time to train clients and manufacturers.

3-Prong Approach

Lake and his team have set up the Knight Security system in three different and distinct areas. First is the design of a project. This includes an assessment and product selection. It also includes gathering all necessary permits. Next you have to build the system. This includes installation, configuration of products and training the client. Service finishes off the approach, including use of SecurePlan, post-install work and ongoing health monitoring of the system.

The outcome of this threepronged approach helps design and builds intrusion alarm systems, access control, video surveillance, fire & life safety and encrypted wireless. Lake said there are certain critical success factors, such as being participative and objective-based in the design process.

“During our pre-engineering phase we strive to facilitate consistency and accuracy,” Lake said. “Part of our success as an integrator is adherence to standards and getting involved with IT early on. We propose flexibility and scalability by design, and then do what we say we will do. Much of our work is word of mouth. We also believe in using best of breed products.”

Though the company depends on certifications and upgraded solutions, they have had their share of awards. Just to name one, Knight Security was chosen as the 2014 National End User Installation of the Year. The award was given based on project complexity, use of contemporary technology, installation quality, design solution and customer satisfaction.

The project was the installation at Sabine-Neches Waterway, which runs 55 miles through Jefferson County, Texas, to the Gulf of Mexico. This area includes the numberone commercial and military outload port in the United States and is the fourth largest port in terms of processed tonnage. The goal of the project was to ensure the safety of those working and traveling through the port, and to keep traffic flowing for the commerce that relies on clear passage.

Knight Security Systems deployed a vast traffic-monitoring network to ensure that all vessels— civilian, military and commercial— can safely navigate the waters with minimal interference such as collisions or other stoppage. The new surveillance system also monitors the many petroleum refineries that line the channel. Backed by a Verizon Wireless 4G connections, the cameras along the waterway are networked through Milestone XProtect Enterprise VMS for managing high-definition video of live vessel movements and incident reporting from the archived footage.

Knight Security is all about teamwork. The real secret sauce to their success, however, is service.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Security Today.

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