Integrators, Do You Get Along With Your Competitors?

Curious, my experience is that there is typically a lot of ill will. Any specific stories you care to share?

One particularly common theme I saw was the ex-employee who started their own shop. This seemed to be an endless source of antagonism and anger.

Oh and here's an integrator only poll:

Back when I was an integrator, I got along just fine with competitors I thought were ethical and/or decent quality (I won't say "trunkslammer" because we all know what that means). Some of them I knew from my first job, being a subcontractor for them, and later a competitor. I don't know that I'd call any of them friends, but there are a couple of people I'd catch up with if we were at a trade show or something.

When manufacturer reps come to Hawaii for the first time, they are always stunned how petty and severe the fighting amongst integrators are. I wonder if Hawaii is an anomaly, perhaps because it's a somewhat closed market due to it being so remote and relatively small.

Repeated viewings of Lilo and Stitch assured me that all Hawaiians were chilled and laid back, even the aliens. Did Disney lie to me?

Dog the Bounty Hunter convinced me they were all iceheads. And when they aren't busy installing alarms, they are running from The Dog.

The Dog TV show may be one of the worst things to happen to Hawaii. It's incredibly negative and unrepresentative of what happens here. Honolulu is a big city of 1+ million people but that show gives the impression that everyone is a drugged up hoodlum. That is far far from the case.

That said, the crabs in a bucket metaphor is commonly and rightfully repeated in Hawaii (here called 'Hawaiian crabs').

Off topic, but who wants to see Thunder in Paradise remade with Dog the Bounty Hunter playing Hulk Hogan? I used to love that show.

I've noticed similar scenarios in other closed environments. Puerto Rico and the Caribbean have a similar mindset among many of the competitors.

In LA or Miami or Atlanta, there's enough business to go around and less feeling of closed geography, so less pettiness.

The level of business is probably a key driver. In Hawaii, there are maybe 20, 30 end users that make or break integrators. The competition is especially fierce for them.

The company I used to work for had two other competitor companies that really hated the company I worked for. One company lost a court case so I presume that's why they hated my previous employer. It was so bad that particular company actually refused to do any work on a jobsite until my company (i happened to be the one on site) was gone.

The new company I work doesn't seem to like it when people talk about ADT around the office.

Well, nobody likes ADT :)

Amen brother!

In my area, animosity is directed a certain people working for competitors, but not entire companies.

In most cases, the techs at one outfit have worked with techs at another, so it stays cordial if distant. There is a good shot they might work together again, so why be a jerk?

However, there's always a 'd-bag salesman' that 'screwed you over on that big job' or 'ruined that one account' that works for the competition. Those guys get hated.

When I was a kid, I'd sub for whoever needed an extra hand that day or that week. I got to work for a LOT of companies that way. You don't do that if you can't get along with people. And the way I got jobs was, trunkslammers would call other trunkslammers, asking if they knew anyone looking for work who already knew how to punch down a patch panel and spoke at least a little English and wouldn't OD at lunchtime.

Lots of times, a customer would get ticked off at a company and ask another company to take over the service, or the monitoring of the burglar alarm or fire alarm, or whatever. Then there'd be a delicate dance with the other company- you've got to either get them to give you their administration password or replace the equipment. Keeping the equipment in place and just rehabbing it and reprogramming it to use meant significant savings. You also want to know why the customer is leaving the other guy and looking for a new company. Everyone has that one job where everything went wrong- drilled into a pipe, couldn't find a short, forgot to wire a window, insulted the guy's wife, whatever, until the customer's patience ran out and they throw you off the site. And everyone has that lunatic customer who is all sweetness and light until the first bill comes due, and then they lose your number, or who is always on the phone with insane questions, who leaves long rambling paranoid messages on your answering machine, and always wants changes done. So you gotta find out, did the customer fire the company, or or did the company fire the customer?

Lots of times, I'd say, yeah, my admin code is 1234, and by the way, this lady was really mad that the aliens who rearrange her pantry isn't showing up on the cameras, or that guy still owes me $600 from last year and his checks are made of rubber.

And you can only do that if you have the other guy's beeper number or BBM code, or you know where he hangs out so you can meet personally. The trunkslammer community tends to stick together in Brooklyn, where I learned this business.

Of course, there's people and companies you dislike on a professional level- you only get to screw people over once, and if you screw someone over, all his buddies will hate you, too- and there's people who you tend to dislike on a personal level, like that jerk who I hate because of what a big fat stupid jerk he is (you know the one). But it's not like that's common.

The industry as a whole is way to small to be making many enemies, it will come back to bite you one day. I like to think I have a pretty decent relationship with my competitors and we can talk to one another rather openly at industry events. I have also thrown work my competitors way a time or two when I knew the client had a system that didnt align with my product set.

I also have a very personal experience (that I wont share here) on how not being able to let go of competitveness can cause serious harm to relationships and even families. In the end it is just a job...keep it in perspective!

I roam the east coast of the US and regularly have techs from direct, same-town competitors in my training classes.

I find that for the most part, unless there is personal bad blood between specific people, that they all seem to get along pretty well. They generally respect others who do the same things that they do, and they are quick to swap war stories about certain troublesome customers or installs.

As Brian and Ari both point out, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for them to burn bridges locally.... rare is the field tech that stays with any one company for the duration of their career.

How about management? Does management tend to along with management at rival integrators? I can understand a field tech not caring as much but managers or owners would seem to have more motivation to be adversarial. Yes/no?

In my experience, management seldom rubs elbows. And if they do, the feeling is akin to football head coaches shaking hands at midfield: You are respectful and polite, but you secretly feel sorry for them because you're 100% confident your team can wipe the floor with them if you just execute according to plan.

OK - I'm not an integrator, so I don't get to vote. Is there a way for us non-integrators to view the poll results?

10 votes so far - 4 yes, 6 - neutral - 0 no votes. I will update this when it gets past 25.

Here in the Pacific Northwest everyone in the integrator community seems to get along pretty well with one another. Besides, over the course of years, most techs from one company will be working for one of the other companies in the area anyway.... Lots of turnover and the playing of musical chairs in the industry, at least in this part of the country.

Pretty much the same where I am, in regards to the musical chairs. Most people have usually worked with atleast one other company if they've stayed in the industry.