Who Are The Industry Legends?

I've been in the industry only a couple years, but I always hear names thrown around like everyone should know who they are talking about. It kind of feels like going to my girlfriends high school reunion where I hear stories but have no idea who people are talking about. I want to be at least know who you guys think have had the greatest impact (good or bad) in the industry. I keep hearing about some Earl guy in St. Louis, and a McDonald in the old Pelco days. What do you guys think?

That's an interesting question!

McDonald was the CEO of Pelco until they sold to Schneider in 2007. I don't know him but he seems to be most mentioned around (1) Pelco's old commitment to customer service and (2) the Pelco jet. He's still around sailing with the ex Pelco yacht.

I am not sure who Earl is in St. Louis.

On the training / teaching side, in the US, Charlie Pierce was pretty famous, especially for his video tapes back in the day. He is quite the character though I can't find any clips online to show it. We also did an interview with Charlie not too long ago.

I certainly don't want to be the arbiter on who is a 'legend' but I am happy to provide any color or response to any questions on people that I can answer.

I agree. The taps Charlie did still are great - just replace the outdated MUX, VCR, etc. But the theory is still relevant and great. He did a great job explaining everything. I am fortunate to have a complete set of the tapes. We (previous employer) have used it to train new employees here and there, in years past to make sure have the foundations of CCTV covered.

The problem with everything from that era is that surveillance technology was less complicated, things like PPF/PPM did not really exist nor were needed, resolution options were far closer, low light performance has gotten much more complex with super low light, integrated IR, etc. Not to mention how much more important IP networks have become.

The best and worst part of any industry is that if you stick around long enough, make enough noise ... sooner or later you end up dead or as a "Legend" ... Since I am not dead, I guess it could be worse.

Thank you for the kind words ... and as always, if there is anything that I can do for you or anyone else in this great IPVM group ... all you need do is ask.

Charlie is certainly a character to remember. I met him at a trade show a few years back.

I introduced myself as "Brian, from IPVM" and went for a handshake. Charlie went for a hug.

(I had literally just met this man.)

I'd swear you were brothers. :)

I think you just insulted Charlie Pierce.

Combine Legend, Guru and Good Guy together and Charlie is indeed in elite company!

Great guy who taught a ton of people video expertise with a side of humor only he could do.


Handshakes are for wimps ... good to see that you are still kicking around the industry. I sincerely hope that you are doing well. CP

"Handshakes are for wimps"

Awesome! :)

That's why I give everyone I meet a punch in the upper arm.

Whenever I hear somebody characterize Pelco's old culture as being about "customer service" it's funny because while it can obviously be summed up that way, I think it ran much deeper than that.

I'd describe it as "a culture that was 100% committed to ensuring the integrator was successful on every job." It was much more than after-the-fact customer service.

* There was tremendous emphasis on pre-sales support

* Extensive training and training support

* Strong commitment to on-time delivery (there was in fact an entire group called Early Warning System (EWS) responsible for monitoring forecasting to ensure that logistical activity did not interfere with off the shelf availability)

* And of course the idea that any problem or any question got answered "on the third ring" of the phone. So if you're on top of a ladder and you need to know how to wire your Spectra there was guaranteed to be a guy on the phone who would track down the engineer who designed the thing if necessary to make sure you could finish the job--from the top of the ladder.

I'm sure there's plenty of guys on here who were on the receiving end of many of Pelco's failures--even during the salad days of 'fanatical customer service.' But I'm also sure the net effect was most integrators really were most successful at winning and delivering jobs when they were installing Pelco gear at one point, and that was no accident.

This was McDonald's best idea and the thread that defined how Pelco operated and did business. It came with healthy margins (and high internal costs), but it helped shape the industry for many years.

I am in St. Louis and am not familiar with an "Earl" here. Been doing this for 25+ years

Earl "the pearl" Snyder at Security Equipment Supply?

Great guy! I worked with him at the old S&B Distributors.

This is an interesting discussion and I'm curious who others will chime in with.

I think if you stick around long enough and stay on top of technology and trends, though, what you'll realize is that the vast majority of these "legends" don't know what they're doing, or are so far out of touch with the reality of practical technology it's incredible. I'm not going to name names, but there are quite a few people the trade mags tell us are well respected and knowledgeable who I wouldn't trust to design a system for Derek's shed.

Remember, you're supposed good cop, I am supposed to be bad cop....

I am not sure what counts as a legend, but I do agree that a lot of people that show up in trade magazines are not very knowledgeable (as their own statements do reflect). Ironically, often it is someone who reports to that person who is the real unsung star. Not sure if that makes them a legend but worth considering...

May I nominate that CCTV Legend of Biblical Proportions, the so-called 'Serb Down Under' and Global Guru, Vlado Damjanovski?

Vlado was and is a very dear friend and having spent years learning from him (and teaching a few non-technicals back) I would consider your suggestion to be right on the money.

Valdo led the industry as an engineer and teacher ... his books are still valid in the industry and I highly recommend them to anyone. His real hidden tallent was in good ol' photography ... amazing pictures when you consider that you have a crazy Rusion living in Australia.

Definitivly a ledgend of our industry on the other side of the big pond.

Great topic- Industry Legends could be categorized on several fronts- Those that were leaders in their respective technologies (manufacturers), those that transformed the supply chain (distribution) and those that set high standards for the installation trade (dealers). Don't be quick to discount those individuals that weren't overly technically inclined.

Their names and reputations are legendary because they had the vision and hired the right people that have kept the security industry intact to this point for others to benefit from.

I personally feel fortunate to have worked with many of the industry's "Silverbacks" in their prime.

I would definitely nominate your dad, the one and only, Joe Lanier! He made a lot of mini legends through his willingness to hire and train young people and let them experience a lot of responsibility at an early part of their career.

Thanks for the Joe kudos! May I ask who you are?

Although it might be too soon to enter the Video Surveillance Hall of Fame, I nominate Fredrik Nilsson of Axis. I've always been impressed every time I have seen him talk, and of course Axis paved the way for IPVS to succeed Pelco's dominance.

From http://www.informationweek.com/author-bio.asp?author_id=1099

Fredrik Nilsson has been responsible for Axis Communications North American operations since 2003. In this role, he has been instrumental in leading the industry shift from analog closed circuit television to network video. Mr. Nilsson serves on the Security Industry Association Board of Directors. He is a trusted industry speaker at leading events such as Securing New Ground, ASIS International, ISC West, and Interop. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post, and he has made numerous television appearances. He authored a book, Intelligent Network Video, published by CRC Press.

Prior to working for Axis, Mr. Nilsson served as a product manager for ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies. He is a graduate of the Lund Institute of Technology and holds a master's degree in electrical engineering, with follow up post-graduate studies in economics.

Frederik is a smooth politician but this is one of the cases where the behind the scenes people fail to get enough credit, especially the R&D team in Malmo and whomever runs engineering, product management, etc.

Good assessment of Nilsson. Martin Gren would be more appropriate as an Industry Legend.

Thanks for remembering the R&D guys. They seem to always be forgotten...


Axis R&D team is in Lund where Axis Global HQ is (20 km from Malmo so pretty close) :-)

Lets see in my 35 years in this industry I believe I can name a few industry veterans and legends:

Joe Lanier, Defensive Security one of the first independent security distributors in Texas in the 70's (Retired)

Bernie Robins, one of the greatest characters our industry has ever know. May he rest in peace.

Charlie Darsch industry veteran for many years and still going strong in his 80's (Detectronics)

Art Shaw industry veteran at ADI for many years. (Retired)

John Burton, industry veteran at ADI for many years. (Retired)

Ron Finley, one of the best security sales guy I have ever met. May he rest in peace.

Roy Thurston, another industry veteran great sales guy. (Radionics)

Earl Snyder, as you mentioned for sure a industry veteran in security distribution for many years.

Sandy Jones, is for sure one of the most active industry leaders and legends. SIA

In my many years in this industry I have come across many people who influenced me and this industry in a very positive way. I know I left out many people and I want to apologize for this.

This is a short list of veterans and legends in the security distribution and manufacturing side.

If you've ever attended a trade show in the US, you've probably run into Steve Surfaro at one time or another.

And Mary Lynn Garcia was one of the first people to apply empiricism to the field of physical security.

On a regional level, every distributor and manufacturer in the Northeast probably knows David Gonzalez. If you run into him at a trade show, ask him to tell you the story of how he once put a pilot in a chokehold midflight.

For me it is Vlado Damjanovski with his CCTV Bible, translated in Russian.

leg·end·ar·y adjective

remarkable enough to be famous; very well known.

B, are you making a greater point here or?

Only that industry legends don't need to be especially insightful or technically proficient, just remarkable enough to achieve widespread noteriety.

Case in point: Todd Rockoff ;)

Todd Rockoff just voted that unhelpful :)

I gave you a funny to help offset it.

For Rockoff, he's really not that well known outside of a niche of people who read discussion boards (and not IPVM recently since he's been banned for promotion for 2 years here). Those who want to follow him, can read the CCTV LinkedIn group, where he continues to bash those using IP.

If you think of legendary in sports, it's hard for anyone insecurity to measure up in terms of impact or notoriety since this industry is fairly fractured / low media.

For Rockoff, he's really not that well known outside of a niche of people who read discussion board...

That may be. On the other hand the OP did ask for people, good OR bad, whose names 'get thrown around'. On IPVM at least, the Todd clearly meets this criteria.

Google* shows for search: "legend name" cctv

  1. Fredrik Nilsson 19,200
  2. Martin Gren 8,040
  3. Vlado Damjanovski 7,150
  4. John Honovich 6,550
  5. Todd Rockoff 5,840
  6. Charlie Pierce 5,440

*Shown for entertainment value only, your results may vary.

Thanks for ranking people based on arbitrary google search results count.

You're just mad that no one considers you legendary. Infamous, yes. Legendary, no. Well, not yet. Give it about fifteen years. That should give you enough time to bring down a few companies, survive a couple of assasination attempts, and have a data compression method named after you.

Hope I am out by then.

I am going to take over Charlie Pierce's farm one of these days...

In 15 years from now, I'll have been in this industry for 32 years. I look forward to telling the newcomers war stories about VHS tape storage.

I look forward to your son taking away your CCTV comedy crown.


The Hay needs cutting ... chickens need cutting up ... the corn needs cutting down ... farming is not all it is cut up to be. But you are alway welcome at my place ... you would be in a very elete group of less than 20 in the industry that have ever been able to actually verify that my wife is real. Come on out ... I've got plenty of chores to do and if my opinion makes a difference, you are a legend ... can't go anywhere without someone bringing your name up to me about something ... that is legendary. CP

She might not be known outside of Michigan, but Ann Scott, formely of ADI, is a freaking rock star. Her departure from there was the final push for us to move away from distributors.

Also not known within Michigan.... Well, at least not known on the West side.

Nor the Southwest corner of Michigan.

Then again, we still use window foil here. Just kidding. Maybe.

Alright, alright. Current/former integrators, then? Maybe? I dunno, I just thought I'd throw some recognition at someone who's done a lot for us.

No worries Tyler. I think we are looking at folks that are more nationally and/or internationally known within the industry as really knowing their stuff.

Woah, woah, woah. Hold on just a minute. I know we joke around a lot here, but I'd appreciate you not making disparaging remarks about window foil. I still have my varnish brush and folded up matchbook somewhere.

I remember the brush, but what was the matchbook for? Tensioner?

Basically. It helped you keep it straight and smooth with no bubbles without ripping the foil.

Is that the thumb part or the pinky part?

Thumb part is East side or what you non-Michigan folks would refer to as “by Detroit”. The North, South and West sides of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula are what you would call “not Detroit”. The Upper Peninsula is not part of the mitten because they do their own thing which, as far as I can determine, involves a lot of ice skating….

here I thought the UP was part of Canada...

Oh man I hope there are no yoopers on here for your sake Brian or they will probably hunt you down for that remark........

Just a lone non-IPVM member up that way.

God's country up there.

Who was the guy that used to teach all the Pelco classes out in Clovis?

He taught me how to use an oscilloscope, welder’s glass and coax crimpers. I want to say it was CCTV Bob or something like that?

Bob Wimmer?

Were you in this group? ;)

Speaking of industry hot-shots, there is a contest running where you can vote for the most influential person in security.

May I advance for consideration, a local favorite and possibly the most feared famous end-user of all time, Carl the 'Living Legend' Lindgren?

Don't forget the land of Access Control. There are:

Frank Gasztonyi and Hing Hung, the famous "Hg" of Mercury Security.

John Moss, founder of S2 and Software House.

Juggernauts, all.

"Hg" of Mercury

Periodic table humor, ha!

That is indeed why Mercury was named Mercury.

Yeah it's like that. Everybody's got a story about how they personally deployed the maglocks in the Lincoln White House.

I would have to ask that Bill Bozeman be added to the list of Industry Legends. Bill took the reigns of PSA at a critical time turning the coop into one of the industries best member owned organizations. Today PSA under Bill's guidance focuses on tomorrow, what's happening, where the money is going and leading business owners to re-invent themselves to stay current. This industry veteran has helped so many move the marker.

I was impressed with Charlies seminars at isc west in, I think, 2003. CCCTV Bob was a wealth of analog knowledge at Pelco training in 2004 I think in NY.. Every overnight training down there was a party. Funny, though, everytime I brought up IP cameras in Bobs class, he would change the subject. How many people, though, nowadays know how to use a scope to test video levels and troubleshoot other issues. I do because of Bob.

Charlie and Bob for sure.

In Canada, I hear alot about Don Douglas, John Day and Frank Felice. Long timers, well known, lots of knowledge, all around good guys!