The Interview: Dominic Campagna, ECS
Dominic Campagna has joined integrator ECS in the role of director with the remit of growing the stature of the business locally and regionally. A consultative leader, Campagna rates the keys to success as being the ability to listen and ensure the business delivers to the bespoke needs of others.
JA: Tell us about your new role at ECS, Dominic?
DC: I have recently been asked to join ECS as a director, after more than 12 years’ success with a very large multinational. My responsibility and focus will be the growth of ECS in Australia and the APAC region. ECS has been in business now for 20 years. Twenty years! Many don’t realise how long ECS has been in business, Our MD and the founder of ECS, Raj Masson, has built his business on foundations such as hard work, tenacity, passion, technical know-how and service delivery, which is the core of the business. Raj’s decision to bring me into the business is about getting someone onboard who has the knowledge, the network and the management capabilities to levitate the business to the level where it will be an alternative to the largest integrators in the regional market.
JA: ECS has completed some serious regional integrations – is the plan to grow that part of the business solely, or are we talking about ANZ, too?
DC: Our headquarters is in Sydney, we now have an office in Canberra, Melbourne, and Cairns with a plan to expand in the very near future into Brisbane and other capital cities following. New Zealand is certainly on our radar as is South East Asia supported by our offices in Indonesia and India.
JA: There’s quite a lot of scope for a business with ECS’ experience – your integrations include things like City of Sydney, the recently opened Australian embassy in Jakarta and plenty more besides – ECS brings serious major integration experience to the table, doesn’t it?
DC: We do have a lot of experience, skill and more importantly, capable employees. The company is nimble and adapts quickly and efficiently to project and business needs and contract requirement. It’s all about finding solutions for the task at hand.
JA: Is growing the business your only remit?
DC: I’m also tasked with adding further value to the existing culture which Raj has developed over many years. A culture of teamwork, pride in ones work and to make ECS an employer and a supplier of choice. It’s so hard to get great staff – to get good technicians, to get good project managers. All integrators are fishing from the same pond, so how do you attract the best people and stop great staff from being poached? Well to achieve this, we want to be a company that supports its staff to be the best they can be for themselves, as well as to be part of a culture and business that is focused on growing and taking its expertise to a wider market with more diverse and challenging applications, in turn creating a rewarding and exciting future for them. From my own point of view, I just want to assist with the company’s business plan and to help everyone within the business to be successful and achieve their own goals.
JA: Does this process involve the creation of a new business plan for ECS?
DC: No, not from scratch, because the business plan has always been sound – to offer customers the best possible standard of service and the best possible solutions. This plan has grown the business from Raj working alone in his van to what ECS is today. So, the idea is to complement that original business model and take ECS to another level where those same qualities can be applied to a much wider market, positioning ECS as a credible alternative to the Tier 1 integrators.
JA: Just on that notion of Tier 1 integrators, do you see the integration market retaining the same layers it has had? Or in the future, do you see specialisation – the rise of boutique integrators offering different sorts of solutions, different brands and more competitiveness when it comes to price?
DC: Yes, that’s quite possible – there’s been so much change – almost a quantum shift. Where you did have the top 3 very large electronic security integrators in Australia, there are now many more options available to customers. Again, this is where our business plan shines by ensuring ECS can be more important to many more customers. ECS is not just a skilled team, rather it has a team of skills. This is evident with the broad security offerings by ECS, from hardware installations to bespoke software development to meet certain requirements.
JA: Tell us a bit about your background in the security industry, Dominic – how did you get started?
DC: I joined the security industry in 1982 and worked for all the majors – MSS, Wormald/Chubb which later became SMC, then Group 4 Securitas. My career spans 36 years and really began straight from school. I wasn’t old enough to be a police officer, so I started out as a security officer following the paymaster around in the days when cash wages were handed to staff directly in those little yellow envelopes.
JA: It’s interesting how many of us of a certain age all started out in the electronic security industry as security officers and then moved into alarm monitoring…
DC: I think that prevalence is in part because the electronic security side of the business was relatively new in the 1970s and 1980s and it took time for it to fully evolve. In those days, security was about the supply of manpower more than about technology and it took time for prices to fall, for clients to become more educated, for installation and integration companies to develop the skillsets, the sales skills to really grow the electronic security industry. Security patrols used to drive around clients and push cards under their front door multiple times a night just to prove they had been there. That seems archaic now, however, it served the needs of the time.
JA: When did you make the transition to electronics?
DC: In the 1990s when working for Group 4 Securitas I moved into the monitoring side of the business and that role evolved to include wider electronic security solutions, which I continued since.
JA: Given your near 4 decades in the security industry is there any single operational focus of a business that assures success?
DC: The key thing is listening to and understanding the needs of the customer. A lot of suppliers talk at their clients instead of listening to their clients. You need to really embrace what a customer’s issues are and come back not with one but multiple different solutions. This offers choices to the client, whose decision is normally driven by budgets, technological preference or the nature of a customer’s business. Other keys to success include having strong personal brand equity together with partnerships to assist customers achieve goals in the face of their own challenges. That means making yourself an intricate part of their businesses so that they can concentrate on what they need to focus on. Customers rely on our expertise when it comes to technology and we must be reliable, embrace change, evolve and challenge the norm. In business, as in life, if you do what you have always done you can only expect what you have always achieved. Most importantly, one needs to surround him or herself with similar-minded and passionate people. If you add value to what companies and individuals are trying to achieve then success will come.
JA: Suppliers must be worthy of trust?
DC: It is all about trust. Whether it be a client or a colleague, they must trust you and you must be worthy of their trust. Most clients only give you one chance to deliver on what has been promised. Trust is one of the biggest binding elements of a business partnership. Operationally, this means you must be able to deliver on what is being promised. You can know everything about cameras, networks, access control, management solutions and all the rest but unless you can deliver on the solution, the service and clients’ expectations you will not be successful. People buy from people they like and trust – there are many suppliers and integrators in the industry selling similar solutions – likeability – it’s another differentiator – the human element remains very important.
JA: From the point of view of day to day ECS customers, what will change?
DC: Existing customers won’t see a material change. For new customers, the change will be that they know about the industry’s best kept secret, because until now ECS management has not had the time to go out and tell people what the business is capable of and what the business has been delivering. We install and maintain some of the biggest integrated security solutions in Australia – people simply don’t know what we do. Of course, as we grow our ability to support clients in challenging locations will grow, too.
JA: You know far better than I do that it’s easier to talk about growing than it is to grow – what’s the process of growing ECS going to be?
DC: Growth needs to be staged and it needs to be managed on the basis of a very good understanding of the business plan worked on a daily basis. A lot of companies try and fail to grow because they bite off more than they can chew.
JA: Is there a list of procedures you’ll be working towards?
DC: Yes, we have a plan and key milestone dates we need to hit. It’s not about micro-management but about placing objectives of a size and shape that are manageable as you move through the process. Growing a business and running a business are not the same thing – it takes a lot of time, money, let alone a lot of effort to grow a business. We will be empowering, training, supporting and encouraging our current and future employees to come on this journey which I think will be exciting and rewarding. This process is more about leadership than management.
JA: Are there plans to expand the offerings of the business – obviously ECS is a security and AV integrator – but could there be additional services offered in the future as you grow?
DC: We’re focusing on the core of the business, however, in the future, there may be additional services through which we can assist clients. That said, the word security has many new facets, including but not limited to cyber security, and ECS is offering security products and services very relevant for the security needs, challenges and risks of our time.
JA: The industry is going through a period of acquisition-based growth – this is a different way of expansion, isn’t it?
DC: One of the most disappointing things about my long time in the security industry is that the majority of large Australian security companies are not owned by Australians – they are all controlled by overseas investors. All the large companies are now this way. It’s a big shame because it means visible local ownership of the biggest brands can no longer inspire younger generations of Australians in the way it used to.
JA: I agree with you but tend to think nobody works a business like their own – that means smaller local companies might be able to outcompete bigger multinationals?
DC: It’s true in some cases but as the ownership of major companies capable of supporting key things like training and bringing young people through a business keeps shifting away from Australia, it reduces opportunities for youngsters coming through. That’s my experience.
JA: Is Raj excited about the plans to grow the business? What will Raj’s role now be?
DC: Yes, absolutely – Raj is very excited about growing ECS. He loves what he does, and I think that’s been part of the formula for ECS’s success. You really need to live and breathe it daily. There is no doubt that his attitude to business is contagious – it’s important for our line managers to have the same passion that Raj has, to be infused by it, so that the passion passes down to our technicians, to our clients.
As far as his role, Raj will always be the CEO and his focus will be all about growing his legacy and leaving ECS as an example of what a business can become through hard work. He’ll always be part of the fabric of ECS. Raj does a lot of hands-on work that many people don’t see, and he will continue to do so. He’s self-made and he has great vision – that’s still very much the heart and soul of what ECS is about.
JA: What’s the end game for you – what do you want ECS to become?
DC: I want the market to understand what ECS can deliver for them and I want the business to become the go-to brand for electronic security integration. Will we be the largest integrator? Probably not. But we want to be in the forefront of client’s minds when they are looking at fulfilling their electronic security needs. When they think about electronic security I want them to think: “Let’s give ECS a call”.