Striking a Personal-Professional Life Balance

Security Sales & Integration

The Big Idea with Ron Davis
September, 2011

Striking a Personal-Professional Life Balance

Bryan and April CochranIf you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month’s great idea comes from Bryan and April Cochran, proprietors of Custom Systems Technologies in Palm Springs, Calif.
The Cochrans’ great idea: 
Separate your business life from your private life.

I recently visited the offices of Bryan and April Cochran, owners of Custom Systems Technologies, located near Palm Springs, Calif. This married couple is typical of so many successful businesses in our industry that have grown and prospered because of hard work and industriousness.
Following up on the theme I wrote about in this space last month — families working together in the same business, particularly husbands and wives — Bryan and April are “the new generation” in our industry. She sports subtle tattoos, as well as a bigger-than-life smile. Bryan is a very bright engineer/technical go-to guy. He loves what he does and doesn’t mind working the long hours.
I guess I’m not sure how many different ways their great idea can be expressed, but I’m fairly sure it can’t be spoken enough. Whether it’s a father and son, a mother and daughter, an uncle and nephew, or a husband and wife, everyone needs to understand the boundaries of their relationships.
How do the Cochrans do it? Simply, Monday through Thursday is work time, which can entail 12-hour-plus days. Playtime begins Thursday night and the Cochrans go off to a nearby recreational water area. Bryan is a watercraft guy with a cigarette boat that looks like it could literally fly.
When I asked the Cochrans if they had it to do all over again would they agree to work together, both, in unison, yelled, “No!” I think they were joking. Regardless, just by looking at their faces, you could tell they were having a good time and enjoyed making sure I wasn’t.
Playing to Your Strengths
I’m not sure what their long-range plan is, but they told me that when they retire they would like to go off to Greece, buy a large boat and charter it when they can. This a couple who know what they’re doing, know how to avoid the pitfalls, and are looking forward to the future. Regardless of how much effort is required for either work or play, the Cochrans seem to know just how to handle it.
And that’s true for a lot of the really successful alarm and security companies in the industry where members of a single family work together. When it works it’s because the family members know where the borders are, know their own limitations, and avoid encroaching on other family member’s territory or job description.
I watched it happen when I was with the Cochrans. April actually runs the business side of the operation and from what I could see, she does it well. Bryan, on the other hand, stays well out of the business side, i.e. accounting, administration, personnel, etc. When I asked him about that he said as long as April didn’t strap on the tool belt, he wasn’t going to go into the office and try to tell her how to do her job.
As I did last month, I’d like to surface the idea about family members joining an industry support group to discuss ways and means of working more effectively with each other. As just one example, surely there are insights to be shared and learned from a positive working relationship such as April and Bryan’s!

Ron DavisRon Davis is Security Sales & Integration‘s “What’s the Big Idea?” columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.