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Business Observer Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 12 years ago

Savvy Security

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For a duo behind a company that protects others from risk, Shannon Logsdon and Steve Paley sure took a gamble with their latest business venture. But despite launching in a recession, the future looks good.
by: Alex Mahadevan Tampa Bay Editor

For a duo behind a company that protects others from risk, Shannon Logsdon and Steve Paley sure took a gamble with their latest business venture. But despite launching in a recession, the future looks good.


Steve Paley, who once launched a thriving marine sales Web site just after the tech bubble burst, is clearly no stranger to enterprise in a shrinking economy.

Now Paley, a CPA by trade, is in a frighteningly similar position.

Paley and longtime friend and business associate Shannon Logsdon founded Rapid Security Solutions in June 2007, just as the U.S. began to slide into an economic contraction. The business model: use an approach that couples aggressive technological research with face-to-face customer service.

A lot of businesses claim to do that, but when applied to the security industry it has meant big bucks for the duo. Big competitors, such as Brinks and ADT, are stuck inside the proverbial box of selling prepackaged security systems, explained Logsdon.

RSS has exploited this weakness in offering custom systems that encompass anything from motion-activated cameras to electronic gates to pneumatic tubes for moving merchandise. The tubes are similar to the ones used in bank a drive-thru.

The innovative approach has paid off, as RSS' revenues have grown 75% from June 2008 to June 2009, and the firm has increased its employee count five-fold since its inception, from just the two of them to 10 now. Sales are approaching $1 million for 2009 and the pair projects an increase of at least 50% next year.

“The security industry isn't recession proof,” says Logsdon, “but it definitely fares better than others.”

That might be the driving factor behind the growth of the company over the last year. Paley says that because of rising crime rates during recessions, people tend to turn to security for peace of mind.

After 10 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, Logsdon found that he was well suited for the security system business. He spent much of that time working with the police force in South Florida, which gave him an insight into criminal activity. Then, while working as a sales manager for seven years for the Sarasota office of Sonitrol, a national security firm, he found limitations in the company's business plan. “I saw what they were doing,” says Logsdon, “and I new I could do it better.”

Enter Paley, the former chief financial officer and president of a marine products firm. Paley and Logsdon founded MariSafe Inc., a marine supplies Web site in 2000 and grew it in spite of the market turbulence. Paley would also front RSS.

RSS focuses 95% of its business in the commercial sector, catering to such big names as Goodwill and Disney. It helped the Manasota Goodwill franchise with loss prevention and added motion sensor cameras, automatic locks and an online network to link the system together. RSS also installed pneumatic tubes in a Disney store to move shirts throughout the store with ease. “We aren't quite the cheapest security company,” explained Paley.

The company is also following the current market realities by utilizing new technology. For example, wireless camera systems will bring extra security to foreclosed properties and construction sites, says Paley. And two-way audio allows clients to listen in when an alarm sounds to decide if it's false or not. “Our technology cuts down on costly false alarm tickets,” explains Logsdon.

RSS plans to expand its employment base in 2010, a move Paley hopes will be made easier by the large ranks of the Gulf Coast unemployed. But the company is extremely meticulous in its hiring procedures and Paley says it emphasizes the person over the available job. “We like to hoard all the talent,” Paley jokes.

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