For more than two months, CapitalSource, which has provided capital to help fuel the growth of CPSS, has been planning a top-secret surprise to thank John Pastore for over 20 years of loyalty. The success of this huge surprise rests on his family.
The family in question is the team of five who own and operate Crime Prevention Security Systems and Custom Home Entertainment, a security and home technology company that employs over 100 people and monitors over 50,000 homes and business. Headquartered in Gainesville, Florida, the family operates a second central station in Atlanta, Georgia, and a branch office in Orlando, Florida.
“Within the family we each have very different roles,” said Jessica McKinney, daughter and vice president of operations. “Over the years, John and Randi have provided us the space to learn and grow within the company. Starting with the tasks we did as teenagers…and now as vice presidents, our focus has always been on doing everything we can to create the best experience for our customers.”
On this particular morning, the team is getting ready for a meeting. The conference room at Crime Prevention is a large, aquarium-like glass enclosure with an oversized wooden table. However, this is no ordinary table. It is actually a billiards table with a wooden top. When asked about the wisdom of having a pool table in a glass room, son-in-law and Marketing Director Bobby McAfee replied, “John and Randi are comfortable with a certain level of risk. When they started the business 40 years ago, they took the biggest risk of their life — starting this company and working out of their home part time for over seven years before they could even afford to pay themselves. So, really, for them a pool table in a glass room is no big deal.”
Today, Jessica stylishly strolls into the room, points to the large McDonald’s coffee in front of Bobby and inquires, “Did you eat another fast-food breakfast in your car this morning?”
Bobby brushes the crumbs off of his vest, takes a sip of his coffee, and replies, “Don’t be judgmental. I’m bulking up for the Olympics,” an obvious fabrication.
As Randi makes her way to the conference room pushing a walker — she recently underwent knee surgery — she shuffles into the customer service area to get an update on a customer who was having technical issues with her alarm system. With the support for landline phones dwindling, more security customers have been switching to interactive cellular systems.
In an effort to ensure continued monitoring service to those impacted by the transition, Crime Prevention has issued thousands in loyalty credits to their customers. Randi reaches out to this particular customer to discuss this credit. Over the course of their conversation, she tells the customer about her knee surgery and laments that, “I have the ACL of a 16 year old, but they refused to upgrade my tush!”
Randi is known throughout the building as Hurricane Randi for the speed with which she rallies the troops on behalf of any customer with an issue and for the speed of her wit, often at her own expense. Regardless of the challenge, she commands any space and moves mountains to take care of each customer. This endears her to the staff and her clients.
It’s now 11 a.m. John’s father and CEO of lunch, Papa John, has been patiently waiting for lunch since arriving at 10:30 a.m. Papa is 88 years old. He comes to the office most days for the lunchtime outing when he’s not in Ocala visiting his girlfriend, Mary Beth. From his seat in front of Bobby’s desk, Papa points to him, and in his Philadelphian accent, asks the daily question, “Where we goin’, babe?”
Lunch today is at a barbecue place.
The team is back at the office and the time has finally come for John’s surprise.
In front of the staff, the CapitalSource team thanks him for being their very first customer. They express their appreciation for him and his over 20 years of loyalty. After presenting him with his award, they pose for a picture and then embark on a tour of the Crime Prevention corporate office.
Large Enough to Serve, Small Enough to Care
John Pastore and Randi Elrad are everywhere, attending a full calendar of business and charitable events, and they have no plans to slow down.
“I wake up every morning excited about making a difference,” John said. “I love spending 12- to 14-hour days in our business and participating in the community.”
Community involvement is what helped the company grow to the next level 40 years ago. John and Randi became friends with a prominent couple, Lindley and Thelma Cellon, who went on to recommend Crime Prevention to their friends.
“They helped us get our foot in the door,” Randi said.
Through four decades of growth, Crime Prevention has maintained a “large enough to serve, small enough to care” approach. At its core, CPSS is a family business with a heart for family. A testament to that is the Lilholt family — three members of the family work for the company: Dave, a long-time employee; his wife, Emmy; and their daughter, Heather Lynn.
Bobby McAfee says the attitude of John and Randi is contagious: “We marvel at the amazing thing they’ve built, and we want to make sure that it remains here, not just our family, but for the families that work here and the families we serve.”
Another family the company serves is the Scarborough family.
Rick and Brian Scarborough, a father and son who own Scarborough Insurance, have Crime Prevention security systems in their homes and at their company’s office.
In turn, Scarborough Insurance has been the trusted resource for the company for as long as anyone in the family can recall.
“We’ve always tried to do business with other Gainesville located companies,” Rick explained. “And the Pastores fortunately have shared that sentiment.”
Rick’s son, Brian, added, “The great benefit of a family business, whether it’s Scarborough Insurance or Crime Prevention, is that if it’s rooted in family, then I think that employees are treated differently because it starts with a family. And we do have to see each other all the time at family events and such. It has a different feel to it — the good ones, the successful ones do.”
“As a family working together in the business, sometimes our ideas conflict with each other, but our relationship has grown to the point where we are able to disagree…but still do so in a way that doesn’t negatively affect our personal relationships,” said Jorgia McAfee, daughter and vice president of development. “Those skills translate into better interactions not only with each other, but also with our employees and even in providing the best solutions for our customers.”
The emphasis on a family-focused culture resulted in Florida Trend magazine naming Crime Prevention among the best companies to work for in 2009.
“That is one of our greatest honors,” John said. “It was based on a blind survey. We try to do the right things, but you never really know how employees feel. For them to recognize our efforts was very rewarding.”
John and Randi are hilarious, hardworking, loyal people. They are loyal to their customers, their team, their industry partners, their friends, their family and each other. It’s no surprise that so many people are fiercely loyal to them.
Forty years ago, Crime Prevention was a Gainesville startup. John and Randi were two young University of Florida grads who loved this community too much to leave it. They found their calling in providing safety to others. Along the way, they nurtured two families: their own and the dedicated team of employees who would move the company forward into the industry leader it has become.
McAfee concluded, “Watching the passion John and Randi have for every single day of their lives makes us work harder for them.”