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Generations of Innovation: General Security Adapts

General Security Inc. has been delivering safety and security solutions to clients across the northeast for more than 30 years. But before the family- owned business served clients’ alarm and security needs, this Plainview-based business was a powerhouse residential and commercial oil company.

REALIZING OPPORTUNITIES

Founder Ed Minicozzi Sr. started General Utilities in 1959, with a vision of building three business lines—oil, alarm, and real estate. The oil heating company’s original lone service van and oil truck evolved into one of the largest oil heating companies on Long Island. General Utilities provided commercial and residential oil services and later expanded the business by purchasing and running oil terminals on Long Island.

The family business broke into the alarm space in the 1970s. Over time, the family kept reinvesting in their business, including real estate, which son Steve Minicozzi oversees. In 2017, the company, led by president Ed Minicozzi Jr., sold the retail oil business to focus on growing the alarm business.

Today, General Security is ranked 33rd in the nation by SDM (Security Distributing and Marketing) magazine among companies that provide security systems and services to both residential and commercial customers. With nine locations spanning from Buffalo, New York, to Miami and more than 70,000 subscribers, General Security has proven to be a major player in the alarm and security space.

“We have the resources and reach of a large corporate company, but as a family- owned business, we bring a personal touch for customer service,” says Michael Minicozzi, grandson of founder Ed Sr. and director of operations at General Security. “We have the flexibility and range to cater to all clients—residential and commercial clients of all sizes, with the full spectrum of security and automation, from basic security to intricate access control systems, fire alarms, and camera systems.”

FROM PUTTING OUT FIRES TO CUSTOMER SOLUTIONS

For decades, the security and alarm industry remained unchanged—alarm companies provided services for residential and commercial needs responding to fires and alarms. With the advent of new technology, the industry changes almost daily as customers gain greater control over the widespread use of smart devices. Security and alarm companies like General Security have transitioned from providing a service to providing a complete solution.

“Security systems, lighting, and other smart home features can be controlled on a phone,” Minicozzi says. “Customers can check in on their homes or businesses even when they’re away. As products continue to evolve, General Security and our experienced technicians adapt, too.”

Al Staab, director of sales and marketing, says General Security maintains tight relationships with vendors and partners to stay on top of the latest technology and devices. “Our sales model has shifted from just offering people peace of mind to creating complete solutions to meet a client’s needs,” Staab says.

A STRONG PRODUCT LINE

General Security delivers state-of-the-art security solutions grounded by the values of a family-owned company. As the business grows into new regions, the company works to maintain strong relationships and shared knowledge, investing in product training to stay on top of new technologies.

General Security services for residential clients cover the spectrum of security needs, including smart home security, fire and life safety, and video systems. General Security also offers wellness systems, giving clients further peace of mind that loved ones are safe, and energy management for lowering energy costs.

For commercial clients, General Security brings decades of experience assisting clients to meet all security needs, from access card controls to video surveillance.

“Training for our customer service tech-nicians and sales reps looks differently than it did—years ago a customer’s main concern was protection against burglary, and today a client’s main concern may be opening their garage door remotely,” Staab says. “As a solutions provider, our techs are trained to ask good questions and to always listen to clients’ needs.”

The company stands out among compet-itors, with the resources and reach of a corporation. General Security has established, longstanding partnerships with the major security system manufacturers

in the United States, including Interlogix, Qolsys, Honeywell, Lenel, and Pelco, among others. They’re also partners with Alarm. com, a leading security and smart home and business service provider platform.

“We give people peace of mind that their home or business is secure—we help instill confidence that their family is safe, their property is secure, and from a life safety perspective, we provide smoke and carbon monoxide detection,” Minicozzi says. “Our services bring a level of convenience and safety, from keeping an eye on a loved one to controlling thermostats remotely.”

EXPANDING A SECURITY BUSINESS ACROSS THE REGION —AND BEYOND

General Security is a leader in the installation, service, and monitoring industry and holds strong market share in the New York metro area. In addition to their headquarters in Plainview, General Security operates multiple central stations that monitor burglar, fire, and residential alarm systems. The company maintains strong relationships with clients through its central stations and has nine offices along the east coast, including in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. As security technology advances by leaps and bounds, some smaller security businesses aren’t able to adapt to stay competitive in the industry.

“When some of those business owners are ready to retire or leave the industry, it’s easy for us to keep expanding our footprint,” says Al Staab, director of sales and marketing at General Security. “We established our Richmond, Virginia, office from scratch, but our other offices were established through acquisitions.”

The company pursues strategic acquisitions to grow its base—by July 2020, General Securities had acquired three companies within 12 months. They’ve pursued solidly operating companies in optimal territories, including recently in Hudson, New York, and Union, New Jersey, to expand their reach.

Throughout the company’s history, General Security sought the financial expertise of Sterling National Bank with lending products to support acquisitions and working capital.

“Because of our relationship with Sterling National Bank, we have the confidence of knowing we can go after any acquisition out there,” Staab says. “That’s a big factor in our success and growth. We know we have the financial support to expand our business.”

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