President / Owner
Moon Security Service Inc.
Number of employees you oversee: We have between 85-90 employees with four offices located in Pasco, Spokane, Wenatchee and Redmond.
Brief background about the business:
We install, service and monitor commercial, industrial and residential fire, video, access control and security systems. We provide patrol and response services in the Tri-Cities.
We provide house arrest (GPS), domestic violence (GPS) and alcohol monitoring in the state of Washington, north Idaho and northeast Oregon. I tell people we run an alternative prison program that saves our cities and taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars every year when they use this service with their courts. We serve between 90 to 95 courts.
How did you land your current role? How long have you been in it?
I grew up in the business since I was 11 years old. I went to Pasco High School, Class of 1975. Go Bulldogs! Then I went on to what is now Northwest Nazarene University and earned a bachelor of arts degree in business administration. More importantly, I met my wife, Debby, and we have been married for 45 years and have four awesome children and 11 grandkids.
I have worked at Moon Security in most of the categories of business that we provide for our clients. My mother, Ruth Ann, was majority owner of Moon Security up until 2012, when she handed over the reins to myself and my three sisters.
I have served as president since that time and just bought my three sisters out at the end of December 2020.
Technology plays a key role in your business. Can you discuss how it’s evolved since you’ve been at Moon Security?
Most people would agree that I am a dinosaur. I was there when communication by alarm system was very limited. Detection devices were OK but have definitely gotten better. Most systems in the early ’70s could only tell you one to four types of signals. Now we are able to get close to a thousand signals from one system if needed.
Why is this important, you ask?
First, it allows us to provide information to responding law enforcement, fire and emergency responders as to what, where, when, why and who they are responding to. It allows us to serve our clients better by recognizing if we have a problem with a device (false alarming) so we can get that device serviced or replaced as needed.
AI has been in the news a lot in the past year. What are your thoughts about using this technology as it relates to your company?
AI has been in the news for a while and can create its own drama. It is a tool and if used inappropriately can be harmful.
Let me tell you about a few ways that computer software/alarm systems/video can be used to help business owners.
Example: How many people are coming into your business and during what hours? Then you can provide staffing as needed.
Example: If people are walking by a home or business step past a buffer zone that the client creates, then it will send a video to the client or designated person and let them make a decision as to what steps they may want to make next.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
I believe every leader should be a good communicator. The ability to listen and speak is a critical component for sharing the vision and mission of the organization.
One of my great heroes, George Gunning, would always say to me, “Remember all of your stakeholders, Mike.”
Everyone can contribute to your organization if you listen. Very impactful for me! I am still working on it!
What is the biggest challenge facing business owners today?
I have several challenges in our business so I’m not sure I can just pinpoint one. Workforce development is one where we expect our people to be more professional. Technicians must have better computer skills, incorporate electrical specialty licensing knowledge and skill sets, understand project management and job costing to bring jobs within budget parameters and still be able to communicate and provide customer service to the client.
I could hire three to five more technicians, as an example, and put them to work. We have other openings as well. We have a pay scale that I believe is fair with great benefits, 401(k) matching and health insurance.
I think one other thing should be mentioned and that is a lot of businesses fail due to cash flow or lack of it. As owners, we pay everyone else – the taxes, the employees, the vendors. We forget we own the company. We are supposed to make money for ourselves, so make a budget and do job costing, but don’t create extra work for yourself. Get paid as an owner, too. Work to have a line of credit. Be careful with credit cards and use wisely as needed.
Talk to others in the chamber or your own industry association for benchmarking. Have a banker, CPA insurance agent and attorney to go to.
If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
If I could, I would reduce some of the barriers to get into this business, specifically the licensing requirements.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
I think someone going into a leadership role should be encouraged to have one, or up to three people, ready to provide a mini-board role for that new leader.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The great ones are always asking questions.
Are you being a contributor to the team?
Have fun always.
Who are your role models or mentors?
I mentioned George Gunning, who was president of National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), our national association for my industry. I was president-elect and so I had him before, during and after my term of office as president of NBFAA/ESA (Electronic Security Association). Great leadership! What a great growth time for me.
I think the most important leader was my mother, Ruth Ann, who came back after a divorce and bought our company back from her ex in 1984.
She said at that time that I would be the face of the company. I regret that I did not make sure she received the recognition she deserved as she made jobs for her family and created a company that would grow to be a SDM Top 100 company in the nation.
She was the foundation and rock. Ruth Ann will tell you that she did it with a team, but she was the leader and force in the early years. Thank you, Mom!
How do you measure success in your workplace?
It’s been several years back, but when we hired Stacie Frank as human resources manager, we really focused on our employees for wage compensation reviews, evaluations, health insurance, and 401(k) matching, just to mention a few of the programs.
I believe strongly that this focus also has seen our company grow even more.
Other key members of my executive team who help us to be successful are Tom Pitcher, general manager, and Sandy Karlsson, accounting manager.
We also have several key performance indicators (KPIs) that we focus on for each department. You have to know your own business to establish those KPIs. That’s the business side of things.
But more importantly are we providing or meeting our vision and mission statement: “Rest easy. We want you to be comfortable knowing we have provided you system(s) that allows you to relax.”
We save lives and protect assets. We uphold the highest level of industry standards with integrity, honesty, ongoing employee training and unmatched customer service. We lead the way in providing peace of mind with innovative life safety and security solutions to our community.
When we fail to do the previous statement in any capacity it is not success.
How do you balance work and family life?
I am learning to have more balance to have down time to travel a little bit more than I did. I work more to be involved with the grandkids’ activities than when the four kids were growing up. My kids are better parents then we were.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
It used to be basketball, racquetball, softball, but later in life it has been golf.
My other happy place is in Hawaii.
What’s your best time management strategy?
I have learned to slow down a little bit. Paul Casey, now executive director for Leadership Tri-Cities, talked to me in a class on time management that when you add one, you have to take off one board or committee in the same way to relieve stress.
Best tip to relieve stress?
Being near water is helpful, but I also believe prayer is the best reliever!
Do you have a personal mantra, phrase or quote you like to use?
Always remember your stakeholders.
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