Smith Thompson Home Security is a family-owned business competing with the industry incumbents in Plano, TX.
If passion is the key to a longstanding business, then it's no wonder that Plano-based Smith Thompson Home Security has been a fixture in the north Texas market for the better part of four decades. Mark Thompson, who owns Smith Thompson with his wife, Lynda, talks about their company with a palpable enthusiasm. Whether he's sharing more on the business's history, explaining their services, or talking about adding pool tables and basketball hoops to the company game room, no detail is too small. It's that continued love of the day-to-day that keeps business booming and competitors on their toes.
"We're a very traditional and over-independent home security company," Mark said of Smith Thompson. Mark and Lynda founded the company in 1978 along with Mark's best friend, Jim Smith, who has since passed away. "We're totally complete. We sell and install systems and monitor them ourselves, so we don't outsource anything.""It personalizes everything," Lynda said. "Our customers know we'll take care of them."
The whole range of offerings
"Complete" is no exaggeration when it comes to Smith Thompson's lineup. The business offers home security, home automation, small business security, monitoring, security products and, most recently added, pest control services to customers all over Texas.
"We jokingly say that we've got you covered against intruders, from two-legged to eight-legged," Mark said.
Although Smith Thompson remains family-owned and independent, their ability to deliver services to the entire state of Texas classifies them as a super-regional company. That means the homegrown business is now competing with the likes of security giants ADT and Brinks.
"To be able to compete with the big boys, the global companies, it's very rewarding," Mark said. "We love to compete, and when you're No. 2, you try harder. That's what we do. We try harder, always."
A business born of tragedy
Lynda and Mark were born and raised in Dallas and Paris, Texas, respectively, and are native Texans. They started the company three years before they were married after a personal tragedy prompted Mark to action.
In 1978, Mark's father was killed by a drunk driver. His father was an executive in the newspaper business, and the local paper ran a story with details of the out-of-town funeral. When Mark and his family returned home that night, they found they had been robbed.
"We were cleaned out," Mark said. "Our business was born out of that tragedy. I know too well how terrible that feels, and we wanted to do something about it."
By its nature, home security (particularly when 24-hour monitoring is involved) can breed stressful working environments, which is part of the reason Mark and Lynda have worked hard to establish a fun atmosphere for their employees.
"The security business can be very tense because we're dealing with crises every minute: break-ins, fires," Mark said. "We try to make our offices fun to remove some of the anxiety that comes with a job like this. When our customers call, they are scared, sometimes police are on the way, and we're talking them through that process. So we do what we can to minimize that stress during the off times. We take our business seriously, but we try not to take ourselves seriously."
"Our culture is small, a family environment," Lynda said. "Each of our people is a person, not a number. We talk to them; we're engaged with them. Our doors are open to them, and they appreciate that."As they've learned and grown in their business and careers, Mark and Lynda say one of the biggest blessings of their job has been their ability to give back, especially in recent years. Smith Thompson supports Africa's Hope, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Mavs Foundation, House of Joy, the Heroes Foundation, and the Taylor Hooton Foundation, among many other causes and organizations.
"The blessing is ours when we get to give like that," Mark said. "The needs are so great in the community now. It's almost mind-boggling what's needed. Texas has been good to us, so we're just paying it back."
"We were both raised in Christian homes with high work ethics and high integrity instilled into us," Lynda said. "It's so rewarding to be able to participate in charitable events, and you meet other people in business and develop friendships with others who share that passion."
A common call
The Thompsons' relationship with Landmark Bank developed through a common call to customer-centered business and community service. Mark and Landmark's Texas state president Randy Hensarling met on a hunting trip years ago and became quick friends. At the time, the Thompsons were banking at a large global bank.
"When we decided to meet with Landmark, it reminded us of whatbanking was like 30 years ago, when they treated you kind and knew your name," Mark said. "They're big enough to handle anything your business needs, but they treat you like a small-town bank. I didn't know that still existed, but it does."The Thompsons also came to find how closely their values aligned with Landmark in other areas.
"They invite us to be involved in charitable events all the time, and they get involved in events we're passionate about, too," Mark said. "They're one of the sponsors of the annual clay shooting tournament for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which is near and dear to our hearts. We didn't even have to ask —they just jumped in."
"(The Landmark team members) are people just like us," Mark said. They're growing, andthe bank is getting bigger, but they're great people, their hearts are huge, and they give wherever they can."
Generations of building trust
With the 40th anniversary of Smith Thompson Home Security fast approaching, Mark and Lynda are remembering the business's past while continuing to look toward the future.
With more than 100,000 customers who already know and trust them, they believe there's still more they can do, and Mark says they plan to try diversifying into other home service industries.
Though it may seem like four decades behind the helm might dampen the wind in their sails, the Thompsons agree that seeing their kids' excitement for the business and the new ideas they bring to the table keeps them going. Two of their three children now work at Smith Thompson Security. Son Ryan is a sales manager and helps Lynda run the day-to-day operations, and son Jordan works in the pest control division. Their daughter, Sydney, works for a nonprofit organization in New York City.
"They've brought new energy to the business," Mark said. "We've had many offers from bigger companies to buy us out, and I never say never, but we're really excited about where things are going. We're always looking for ways to get into other industries, but we do it very carefully. We're traditional, so it's steady as she grows."
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