x

Building a Kansas City Commercial Security Business with Lucas Ingala

lucas ingala watchmen security

Lucas Ingala | Watchmen Security | Kansas City

Chad Peterson: Okay. And thanks for joining another episode of the Business Brokers Podcast. Today, I have Lucas Ingala and by the way, that is Sicilian. Lucas Ingala, he owns a Watchman Security. He is the Founder and the Owner-Operator of Watchman Security, a Kansas City-based security company. We welcome you to the show, Lucas.

Lucas Ingala: Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it.

Chad Peterson: Well man, you got a real good look. You got a hell of a background there. Young guy, entrepreneurial spirit. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, so tell me how you found that Watchman was something that was necessary for you to create?

Lucas Ingala: I think it kind of found me. I grew up around entrepreneurship. My, my grandpa owned a produce company in the River Key way back in the day in Kansas City and used to deliver produce to people around the area. My dad owns a business and so been around it a long time and you’re always looking to fix something or make something better as an entrepreneur.

Lucas Ingala: I was working for a national firm, they broke up the way that they hunted their own business. I was working for a dealership here in town and I came on at doorknocker, I was going door to door in 2008 when the recession was going on. I remember walking through neighborhoods and houses are sitting there vacant and just the rap on the house is blowing in the wind.

Lucas Ingala: But we were writing 100 close to a hundred deals a month. I was the top sales guy there month in a month out when I first started. I needed something to do at night, so I answered this ad and that’s how I started doing. I was going to school in ministry, and then I started doing that. After about a year that they asked me to become a manager and I started leading the sales team and I was leading one of the highest producing sales teams here in Kansas City. But I wanted to grow the business. I wanted to actually build something. And what we would do is write these contracts and then we would sell them off every month. So we weren’t retaining any business. There was no customer.

Chad Peterson: Purely a sales organization.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah, we were a sales organization. Yeah, exactly. I wanted to establish something. My grandpa, where’s the produce business today? It’s not around. My dad has grown a good company. My brother’s taken it over, but there’s not many people in it. There’s just a handful of them, and they go out and lay brick and do stuff like that. Grew up on a farm, hard working. I wanted to establish something that would outlive me, so I started Watchman. That’s one of the reasons why I started it. I didn’t know anything about it, all I knew was the sales side of it.

The Future of Home & Commercial Security

Chad Peterson: Do you think the security and the way it is done now will be trumped by a technology that’s later implemented that would take out the way that it’s done now?

Lucas Ingala: I think what’ll happen is the DIY. You have smart, you have Google entering the space. You have Alexa entering this space, Amazon entering the space. You’re going to have a shift in where everyone wants to connect everything. Everyone wants to be plugged in and connected.

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucas Ingala: You’re going to have a level of DIY on the residential side of the business. When you start getting into more of what I call a pro install, people are still going to want someone to come out and do this stuff and make it all work.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: There’s that piece. And then the commercial side of the business, people’s buildings are getting broken into, their employees are stealing from them at times. We do a lot of lot monitoring for auto dealerships in town and people are taking… They got a couple, two, $3 million worth of inventory out on the lot and people will just steal cars off the lot. We actually do outdoor intrusion monitoring that monitors the outdoor area. We know when someone comes on, we can tell them, “Hey you in the gray shirt, you need to get off the property,” and prevent them from doing something. It’s more of a trespass at that point.

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucas Ingala: I think the commercial business isn’t going to be a DIY. You’re going to have a real small mom and pop doing DIY stuff, but commercial people, they never know when something’s going to happen and part of the game is being proactive so that’s when they’ll hire a company like ours. Now, I do think when you’re talking about a monthly subscription service, that’s where we shine. Everything we do is cloud. And I do think that people are going to go that route. They’re not going to want to have a big capital investment. You’re going to have some companies that’ll do it, but eventually it’s just going to be a subscription service where you just pay us every month and we take care of your stuff.

Chad Peterson: Yeah. Well, so tell me the biggest challenge of your business, because there could be some people listening to this podcast that think, “Well hell, everybody needs security. Why don’t I get in the business?” What’s the biggest challenge in being in your business, the security business?

Lucas Ingala: Well, you got people and you got process and then you’ve got product. Where we’re at today is getting our process and structure in place. When you’re trying to move 30 people in a direction, that’s hard.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: You got to get everybody on the same page. Everybody speaking the same language.

Chad Peterson: So management, basically management of it is the hardest part because to any business sounds easy. Oh, we’ll just go door to door, we’ll go door knocking and we’ll get the contracts. We’ll hold the servicing rights to it. We’ll sub out the technology to where their monitoring is taken care of. We’ll retain the contracts. That all sounds great, but it gets messy whenever you have to get people to implement those processes, to get that product to the customer and to make sure everybody’s happy. And so what you’re saying essentially is that management is the hardest part of it. Is that right?

Lucas Ingala: Yeah. Yeah. Maintaining the right culture and maintaining the right feel at your company when it’s beyond you. You can control two or three people, but how do you maintain that culture and managing, and setting expectations and managing behavior. Accountabilities, how do you set the accountabilities in place? And what’s your meeting pulse? What’s the rhythm? How do you keep people talking the same language and how do you make the machine work every day? And have it work efficiently, so your customers can have a great experience. That’s a massive challenge.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: That’s going to be the hard thing to do, right?

Chad Peterson: Right.

Lucas Ingala: It’s easy to go out and knock a door and sell something. But how do you take care of a client?

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucas Ingala: What are you going to do after you knock the door?

Chad Peterson: Right, yeah.

Lucas Ingala: And that’s a whole nother… So I think the big thing is, and then we do fire alarm too, so that’s life safety code, compliance stuff. Not anyone can just walk into that, but in any business, it’s not just in mine Chad, but in any business, you’re going to have a breakpoint at 3 million, 10 million, 15, 20, you’re going to have these break points where you’re going to figure stuff out.

Chad Peterson: Yeah. Would you like other people that are running a security business that might have a problem with implementing the people and the product and the service of, would you like them to come on board with you and bring to bring their assets or human assets? Maybe you have a stronger model than what they currently have.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah. I heard a guy here in town say we don’t do anything really. What’s different about us is the way we do it, what we do isn’t. Anyone can do what we do, it’s how we go about doing it that’s the intellectual property.

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucas Ingala: What we’re looking for right now is… You’re in the acquisition business. I mean, if we had a good company with a good culture and they’re just ready to exit, that would be a great opportunity for us. I’m young, I got a lot of energy. I want to go grow a great business. That would be a great opportunity for us, and we’ve done a couple of little ones. But yeah, if we can bring some talent on board and bring them into our fold and just have it be a win-win for everybody, then that would be an easier way for us to get to where we’re going as a company [crosstalk 00:08:39].

Chad Peterson: Yeah, it’s a lot easier to grow through acquisition. If you’re going to sell your business or in your case, buy businesses to grow through acquisition, it’s a lot easier to do that than hiring one person at a time.

Lucas Ingala: Right.

Chad Peterson: Because as you said earlier, the culture. How do you hire one person, three people, five people, and then how you get to 30 or 40 or 50 people and get everybody to be speaking the same language? How do you keep loyalty?

Lucas Ingala: Right.

Chad Peterson: How do you keep that culture alive and well? And oftentimes it’s just a matter of buying the competition out is the fastest, easiest way for growth.

Chad Peterson: Now, do you believe that that’s in your plans to grow through acquisitions?

Lucas Ingala: 100%. Yeah.

Chad Peterson: 100%. Okay.

Lucas Ingala: That’s part of our plans, yeah.

Chad Peterson: All right.

Lucas Ingala: We want to do it. We have great product lines. We have a great model that we’re working in right now. We just need more. That’s really what we need. We need more of the right people and more to go do.

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Outstanding. Well, tell me some of the benefits of using your Watchman Security as versus the competition.

Lucas Ingala: We have four uniques. It’s our people internally, we invest a lot in our people. We send them through personality training, communication training. We invest a lot of money in all of our people to make sure that they’re getting continually professionally developed. Also financially, we make sure that we have a career path for everyone in the company and they’re financially going to hit what they would like to hit in their life. Professional and financial goals. Our technology is different. When I first started this, we would go put these boxes in people’s businesses that recorded the video when we’re talking video surveillance. And a lady called me once and said, “Hey, I want you to come down here and pull this video for me. I had a break in.” I’m like, “Man, this is awesome. My first one, I’m going to go down there and bust these dudes.”

Lucas Ingala: I go down there and I’m all excited. And I pull the video and guess what? The video wasn’t there. She looks at me and she’s like, “Well, why isn’t? She’s like, “You should know this. You’re my security company.” And I’m like, “You’re right. I should know this.” So I left that day and I’m like, “This is wrong. I shouldn’t be putting this stuff in that’s on site not knowing if it’s going to work or not. Wait until an event happens, and then finding out later that it didn’t work.”

Cloud-Based Commercial Security Solutions

Chad Peterson: Well, so now the cloud is the go-to solution. So everything has to be in the cloud now. Right?

Lucas Ingala: Yeah. Everything we do… We are a cloud security company.

Chad Peterson: Yeah.

Lucas Ingala: You’re going to be connected on an app. You don’t have to worry about all the firewall and get hacked and all that stuff. It’s all secure. And it’s like, Netflix. I mean, you log in today and tomorrow you’re going to have the latest and greatest. And if something goes down, your camera goes down. We know about it. We have health checks. We have a whole team here in our office that tells you proactively, “Hey, did you know this is down? We’re going to come out and check this out. Or did you know that your door’s offline? We’re going to come out and check this out.”

Lucas Ingala: It’s a whole nother approach rather than being reactive and coming out every year, maintaining a server, dusting the thing off, upgrading the Window, just all the cost associated, all that goes away. You do pay some monthly cost, but in the total cost of ownership, we’ll beat out. We’ll be out an onsite system every time. That’s how we’re different.

Chad Peterson: Okay. How old are you Lucas?

Lucas Ingala: 39.

Chad Peterson: 39. Any kids?

Lucas Ingala: do. I have a little seven-month year old baby.

Chad Peterson: Oh, wow.

Lucas Ingala: Noah, James. He was born during COVID. We almost had him out on the parking lot in front of the hospital.

Chad Peterson: Wow. All right, you named him Noah and earlier you mentioned that you were going to school in the ministry.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah.

Chad Peterson: I’m ordained myself. I’m an ordained minister.

Lucas Ingala: Awesome.

Chad Peterson: And you named your boy Noah, that’s no accident.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah, Noah James. And then I got Rebecca Lenay. Rebecca’s three.

Chad Peterson: Oh, hey, Good for you. All right, so you’re a family man. Still married, I assume?

Lucas Ingala: Absolutely. 100%.

Chad Peterson: All right. Married, couple of kids, just were praying to God and working like the devil to build a hell of a security company. Is that right?

Being a Faith-Based Business

Lucas Ingala: Yeah. Yeah. That’s it, dude. You got it man. I love my church. I love my God. He’s the one reason-

Chad Peterson: What church you go to?

Lucas Ingala: I go to World Revival Church.

Chad Peterson: Okay.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah, it’s over there. It’s a world-known church, but I’ve been there for 15 years.

Chad Peterson: Awesome.

Lucas Ingala: My life’s been drastically changed since going. I wasn’t raised Christian, but God really came down and changed my life and really set this whole thing up. I mean the business, everything that we have, he’s done it all. I mean, I could tell you story, after story. I mean the veins we got, the building we bought, all that stuff. Just a ton of testimonies there.

Chad Peterson: Awesome.

Lucas Ingala: It’s been a pretty awesome journey.

Chad Peterson: Good. Is your church community helping you at all?

Lucas Ingala: Absolutely, man. I mean every service I go there I’m changed.

Chad Peterson: I just meant with your business. There’s safety in the multitude of counsel. Do you stay in council for your business at your church, or do you find that business is separate from church for you?

Lucas Ingala: I’m open to fill that void actually. I’ve had trouble finding believers, strong believers that that can give me good counsel in business.

Chad Peterson: Yep. That’s why I asked the question.

Lucas Ingala: I do wish-

Chad Peterson: Yeah, go ahead.

Lucas Ingala: I do have a pastor there and spiritually talk to them and I bounce. But I’ve had trouble within the business world finding a good mentor and leader, so I’m open to fill that gap myself.

Chad Peterson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, the problem really is that the scripture speaks of there’s wisdom in the multitude of counsel, and that’s true. However, when that book was written 2000 years ago, the landscape of business wasn’t the same. The landscape of people weren’t the same. This world has changed dramatically over the last or 20 years, much less the less 2000 or so. When you go to church and you expect to get maybe some spiritual nutrition-

Lucas Ingala: Yeah.

Chad Peterson: … but yet as a business owner, your whole life, your whole world, everything is surrounding your business. It is. It’s how you put food on your table. It’s your job. It’s your work. It’s your hobby. It’s how your wife stays secure. It’s how you keep a roof over your head. It is the most crucial thing to you, a man’s work is. And when you go to church and you can’t find good advice and wisdom, you start to wonder why.

Chad Peterson: And so for me, church is a place that I can only get so much nutrition from. I have to go and keep my counsel in the business world. I get a lot of my church, I guess, from the business world, because I keep a real close knit of counselors around me and I have replaced church essentially with my council of business people that I trust, because if they’re faith-based and they’re in business, then they’re my people. And that’s where safety is, in the multitude of that council. Because if you don’t keep council within your space of business, in this case, Watchman Security, they’re not really much help to you.

Lucas Ingala: Sure. And I have a mentor that I think God brought into my life. He runs a $70 million security company, one of the fastest-growing in the country-

Chad Peterson: There you go, there you go.

Lucas Ingala: That all happened because I was in the right place and the fire alarm went off in this conference we were at, and I just ran into him. And so stuff like that, the Bible talks about Deuteronomy. God’s given us the ability to produce wealth, to confirm his covenant with us. He’s given us tools and he brings opportunity to us in the ability to go produce money. But that’s the key, you got to go tap into that ability and go do something with it.

Chad Peterson: Well, so God gave me these hands, but if I don’t use them, it’s my fault.

Lucas Ingala: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right. It’s not like it’s just going to happen.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: And some of just keeping my head screwed on straight. You can have all the money in the world, the business isn’t my God, my God is my God and he provides it. So keeping my head screwed on straight. I got to have a good marriage. I got to have good kids. It’s everything.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: It’s everything encompassing where it’s all moving forward, and it’s all a part of the Kingdom. It keeps me fresh, keeps me sharp, keeps my head screwed on straight. I was reading a book and it talks about how entrepreneurs are manic depressive, they go through all these rollercoasters, some of the greatest. You talk about like Steve Jobs and all these guys, and they were little loony because it’s just the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. But if you got something solid in your life that gives you nourishment and keeps your mind sharp and keeps you fresh, then you’re not so reliant on yourself and things can come your way.

Chad Peterson: Sure.

Lucas Ingala: The Kingdom has been a great advantage for me.

Chad Peterson: Well, man, we really enjoyed having you on the show. Give us one last bit of information here. How do you want to be remembered. When you’re dead and gone, how do you want to be remembered?

Lucas Ingala: Well, it’s the Kingdom, man. I mean, I’m telling you. It’s the Kingdom and we’ll have a Kingdom platform that people can tap into that I’m developing. Whatever you believe right now, you need to believe in Jesus and you need to believe in God. He’s the only way, he’s the only truth, he’s the only life. And I’m not doing the Christian thing, and preaching religion. But eventually, if you tap into that source, everything will go good for you. Everything will go good for you here on earth.

Chad Peterson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lucas Ingala: And it’s the best investment I’ve ever made, is investing in the Kingdom.

Chad Peterson: All right. Well, you heard it. Folks, Lucas Ingala, Owner-Operator of Watchman Security, doing things better, taking care of the customer better, not just being a sales organization, but being somebody you can count on for security. He counts on his wife, his wife counts on him. He counts on God, she counts on God. And it sounds to me like you might be able to count on Watchman Security, so check them out. And by the way, Lucas, if we wanted to find you, where do we go find you at online?

Lucas Ingala: Just www.WatchmenKC.com or call us at (816) 744-8900.

Chad Peterson: All right. We appreciate you being on the show. You’ve been a great guest and we wish you the best of luck and maybe we’ll have you on again in the future.

Lucas Ingala: Thanks, man.

Chad Peterson: All right.