Industry Professional

Luck of the Draw

If asked, Kurt Takahashi, president of AMAG, would tell you he was brought to the security industry by “luck of the draw,” but just talking with Takahashi would make you believe he is right where he is supposed to be.

Takahashi’s journey into the security industry isn’t necessarily a conventional one, as he explains it. He never thought an out-of-college entry level position would turn into a career.

“I went to Cal State Long Beach and I had a couple friends that graduated a couple years earlier than me and they were working for a company called Sensormatic, which is the company that makes the tags you see on clothes,” Takahashi said. “As I was heading into my last semester of school, they asked me if I wanted to come work with them.”

So, he interviewed and was hired immediately as a salesman.

“I remember I had the Beverly Hills and Melrose area,” Takahashi said. “I would stick hundreds of brochures and cards in my bag and every single store I saw I tried to sell them something. I was pounding the street and getting rejected, and that’s how I learned sales.”

After his stint at Sensormatic, Takahashi started working in the national account division of ADT, which eventually ended up buying Sensormatic just three years later. It was through ADT that Takahashi began his career in software.

“At the time, ADT purchased a software company called Proximex,” Takahashi said. “Our president asked me to build a team to drive business for Proximex, and that’s how I got into software."

It was this opportunity with Proximex that got Takahashi really excited about software and the scope of solutions that these new technologies could offer customers on an enormous scale. This realization is what eventually brought him to Quantum Secure where he worked as the head of global sales and marketing.

With Takahashi’s list of accomplishments and skills, it didn’t take long for AMAG, a G4S company, to seek him out for a position in the company. Within just two years of his time with AMAG, he was promoted to president of the company.

“I have always been amazed by how much technology AMAG has that really complemented the access control platform,” Takahashi said. “When I first got here, I felt like nobody knew about it.”

It quickly dawned on Takahashi that the industry and its customers still viewed AMAG as an access control company despite the fact that they are “so much more than that.” Takahashi made it his vision early on to create a way to market AMAG as more than just access control.

“We have all these incredible tool sets that all talk together and when you actually compare it to our peers, we are the only ones that do what we do with all our own technology,” Takahashi said. “Why aren’t we talking about that?”

In an effort to change public perception, Takahashi spoke about how AMAG will begin to view customers and their problems first, before selling them a solution. This new approach helps AMAG to sell broader solutions using all of their technologies.

“This is more about gaining an understanding of what the problems are so that it can lead us to the right kind of technology for the customer,” Takahashi said. “We can give a customer the best system in the world, but if it isn’t optimized and their officers cannot use it correctly, then it is not worth anything.”

It was because of his experience at the various companies before that Takahashi knew to seek out the bigger solution rather than just access control.

“My experience at Quantum Secure was huge because it really helped me understand the value of the operational efficiencies and the automation of how you move people throughout the organization,” Takahashi said. “And then through my days with Proximex, it really helped me to understand the value of seeing the whole picture of data and understanding from a situational awareness perspective how to create success for the customer.”

However, for Takahashi, his experience in the beginning stages of his career will always be the most important.

“It’s been a great ride the whole way,” Takahashi said. “I always go back to the days where I first started selling, carrying a bag and walking up and down the street just trying to make my goal of one hundred cold calls a day. Understanding the discipline of sales has really carried me through my entire career.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Security Today.

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