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Hawkes Bay's HSM Group: Cutting to the core of success

NZ Security Magazine, April-May 2018

 

New industry qualifications for security technicians will be launched later this year. With demand for technicians on the rise, the focused NZQA training will be welcomed throughout the industry, including by Hawkes Bay’s HSM Group.

 

Father-son duo Fred and Matt Stevenson know what it takes to grow a business from the ground up. Twenty-one years ago, Fred went out on a limb, founding the family’s security business in an old shed on his Hawke’s Bay apple orchard. But, Fred didn’t bite off more than he could chew, giving himself three years to completely cut ties with the apple business.

Once he did though, there was no going back, just moving forward. With son, Matt, now at the heart of HSM Group and a team of eighty-plus behind him, you’d be right in thinking that the father-son duo has achieved success. A result made possible by identifying the core to their business – stand-out from the crowd and invest in people.

The Stevenson’s are resilient. Growing up on farms and orchards meant their livelihood was often at risk and firmly in the hands of the often temperamental, Mother Nature. Matt’s not shy when reminiscing about the trying times, “if you have an orchard or you’re a farmer, you could be the best at it, but you’re reliant on the weather and other things you don’t have control over. One year our crop got hailed and was completely destroyed.”

Their rural roots have made them tough, business tough, and not afraid of risk. As Matt explains, Dad longed for a job which offered stability and control, one where “you’re more in control of your destiny,” he adds. Security was that job, but to get there Fred had to take a risk. Step by step, bite after bite, HSM Group started to grow.

Matt says, smiling, “as soon as we bought the monitoring station the business started to take-off, particularly in the commercial side.” And, grow it did, from two employees in 1997 to today’s team of just over eighty. Matt explains, we now run “a 24-hour monitoring station which is B1 graded ... a fire and tech company, and, a reasonable sized guard team.”

Father-son duo Fred and Matt StevensonFather-son duo Fred and Matt StevensonIf growth is anything to go by, they’re a formidable team. “In the last seven years, things have really started to shoot off,” says Matt. That success was in-part made possible by their ability to provide a service no one else was offering. “When we started,” Matt explains, “there was a gap in the market for a one-stop-shop. So, we decided to focus on filling that gap.

Now, our customers have one phone number to ring and one company to sort everything.” It’s that one-stop-shop mentality that continues to serve them well. Whether it’s helping businesses manage online risk, providing guard services for local events, or installing automated gates for schools, if it’s security, they’ve got it covered. This rock-solid foundation allowed the duo to branch out into electronic security.

“Installing, programming and managing alarm systems is”, says Matt, “the area of the business which has grown considerably over the last five years. We’ve invested a lot of time and money into training staff, and we are constantly working hard on upskilling new employees.”

With demand for two thousand electronic security technicians nationwide, it’s an area which offers both business and individual opportunities. “We currently employ 14 technicians and a couple of apprentices,” adds Matt, “but we could do with another couple of technicians and apprentices. It’s a well- paid career and there’s a real demand. Probably every security company in New Zealand could do with more technicians.”

 

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Fred and Matt haven’t lost sight of the role people play in their business. In fact, people are at the core of their success. “After about three or four months on the job, we get an idea of how keen they are,” Matt adds. “We sit down with each team member and find out where they’d like to take their career. Then we start investing in them,” he says, smiling.

While upskilling is a key focus for HSM Group, demand for skilled employees is outstripping supply, so filling job vacancies is proving anything but easy. “It’s a real battle to find people who are willing to get involved in the technical side of the business,” he explains. On a typical day a technician might “do some fault finding, install and programme alarm systems, run cables at a residential property, or cameras and barrier arms at a commercial property. And, often when we’re interviewing people from overseas, they can only do part of the job.”

What’s encouraging, in Matt’s eyes, is the launch later this year of new industry qualifications for security technicians. “We’ve been working with Skills around the security qualifications and making them specific to our industry,” he says.

Skills, one of the country’s largest Industry Training Organisations, shares Fred and Matt’s philosophy – to grow your business, you need to grow your people. And, with demand for technicians on the rise, the focused NZQA training will indeed be welcomed with open arms.

The qualifications will allow HSM Group to formally invest in their people. Until then, the duo will continue to actively encourage enthusiasts to enter the industry through their open-door approach. Matt adds, smiling, “we often get young kids knocking on our door asking for an old panel or alarm to play with. One guy came in and asked if we had some old fire alarm parts he could tinker with at home. We did, and it must have sparked his interest.

Fast forward a few years and he’s now working with us.” But, HSM Group’s open-door policy extends well beyond providing young people with old equipment. Matt explains, “we welcome aspiring technicians to spend a week with us and watch what the team does. Observing what it’s all about is the best approach. If you’re into electronics and happy to do some physical work, then this is the job for you.”

While Fred’s cut back his hours, he’s still at the core of the company’s guarding and monitoring teams. Matt adds, laughing, “Dad doesn’t miss the apples at all. Once he moves on, he moves on. We’re security and fire all the way.” Fred took a risk in 1997, and it was a risk that paid off. “If it wasn’t for the old man,” Matt says, “HSM Group wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Twenty-one years on, the business landscape may look slightly different, but the core to the duo’s success has remained the same. Stand-out from the crowd and invest in people. A recipe which has, and will no doubt continue to serve them well.

 

Grow your business by growing others 0508 SKILLS or skills.org.nz

 

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