With an engineering degree and eight years’ experience working in product design for ACT, Peter O’Connor set up his own business, Global Security Devices, in 2006. His timing could have been better, he admits.
Eleven years on the Tallaght-based company specialise in access control and intruder alarm systems, which provide perimeter protection and can be controlled from the user’s smartphone.
What distinguishes your business from your competitors?
GSD is certainly very innovative and a product leader. On top of that, we pride ourselves in support, with both the sales and customers support that we give to installers that enables them to not only deliver a world-class solution, but deliver it efficiently.
What’s been your biggest challenge in business?
We set up the business in 2006. If I was to give somebody advice, that was the wrong year to set it up. To make that worse, we started developing product that year: we sold our first product in 2008. Timing in business is everything, we couldn’t pride ourselves in the best timing in the world. Having said that, what it has allowed us to do is build a very lean efficient business.
What’s your major success to date?
I think the recognition by our peers in awards. We have been finalists for both Intruder Alarms Product of the Year at the Security & Fire Excellence Awards 2015 and Access Control Product of the Year at the IFSEC 2011 Security Awards. Selling our access control products not only in Ireland but the UK, USA and a number of countries in Europe is also a big achievement.
What more do you think the Government could do to help SMEs?
There’s a lot of bureaucracy for SMEs. Different Government departments need the same information from us. In actual fact a lot of the times you are filling out the same forms whether it’s as an Enterprise Ireland client or for South Dublin LEO. I think it would be good if they could streamline that and reduce the load on companies.
Do you think the banks are open for business?
The banks are, I suppose, very cautious given what has happened and the pendulum has swung from completely north to south in my opinion. If we go back before the crisis, it’s easy to see that there was light-touch regulation and it caused a lot of the problems that arose, but now there’s far too much bureaucracy financing the growth of a business. Having said that, our banking partners have been very supportive of us.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
I’m not one to focus on mistakes and thankfully we have not made any mistakes big enough that need to be focused on – unless it’s a real clanger, then it’s just a case of learn from it and move on.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Steve Jobs because of his innovation and foresight. I would very much look to the future from a business point of view. There is no point as a product and solutions company thinking of this year or next year; we need to be focusing on what’s ahead. His vision sticks out for me.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
To do it well.Whatever you are doing, regardless of what it is, do it well. I’m from a farming background and something that was always pushed across from my father was do it well, do it right the first time and then you don’t have to repeat it.
How do you see the short-term future of your business?
Our three-five year plan is very much built around intruder alarm and growing the business in Ireland with installers and integrators and to get brand awareness out to homeowners and business owners.
Growing the business internationally, building on what we’ve already done in the UK and Europe and indeed in the US.
There’s a third element of the security stool, which is CCTV, and we’ve made a conscious decision not to develop CCTV products but to integrate them with best in class products such as HikVision.
What is your business worth and would you sell it?
People value businesses on sales and turnover. It’s more difficult to value ours. We’ve developed a very strong portfolio of products both in access control and intruder alarm. There is huge value in intellectual property within GSD. We would be very foolish to try and value it today. Would I sell the business? No, the plan is to build it out and scale it.