For security professionals, there’s no greater recognition than earning passage into the SSI (Security Sales & Integration) Industry Hall of Fame (HoF). Each year, editors at the magazine induct a handful of deserving, industry veterans who have made a lasting impression on the electronic security and life-safety industry. Other qualities, such as integrity, humility and being ethical and charitable, are found in the more than 100 exceptional people who have been inducted into the SSI Industry HoF.
Among those chosen to join the Class of 2021 is Resideo’s Senior Director of Sales for National Accounts, Keith Baird. Past inductees from the history of our company include Maurice Coleman (founder of Ademco), Roger Fradin (chairman of Resideo) and Ben Cornett (current EZWatch CEO).
We recently caught up with Keith to learn his perspective on a mission-driven career and what continues to motivate him during an ever-changing technology landscape. Here are portions of that interview.
1. First, congratulations! How do you feel about being inducted into SSI’s Hall of Fame?
Thanks! It’s extremely humbling. I am honored to be included in this esteemed group, and feel it is now my job to carry the flag for others that I believe so richly deserve to be included. I look at the list of inductees and recognize that so many people have contributed immeasurably to the good of the industry.
Enjoying the Catalina JazzFest in California with industry friends (LtoR) Merlin Guilbeau, Executive Director of ESA; John Hopper, Director of Corporate Security, Uber; Mike Matson, Co-Owner of Matson Alarm; Keith Baird; and Bart Didden, Owner of USA Central Station.
2. Who first ‘carried the flag for you’ when you got started in the electronic security industry and what impact did that have on you?
I was looking to make a career change after four years in the chemical industry and my younger brother, Ken, lined me up for an interview with Ben Cornett – a fellow SSI HoF member. Ben hired me to handle the 13 western states for Blue Grass Electronics in 1985. Ben promoted me to National Sales Manager and convinced me to move to Louisville, Kentucky. After a series of company acquisitions, I remained in sales leadership positions with Ademco, Honeywell and now Resideo. Ben continued to be a mentor of mine throughout my career – and taught me most of what I know about sales and leadership – he and I share a deep love for the industry, and our critical role in life safety. This was on top of the lessons my father had taught me about accountability, responsibility and hard work.
(LtoR) Keith Baird; Former FBI Agent G. Gordon Liddy; Blue Grass colleagues Hank Hanish and Ben Cornett.
3. How did those mentors influence your approach to giving back to the industry?
Mentoring others and seeing them develop into not only great employees, but also contributors to the greater good of the industry is a huge passion of mine. It really defines me and my purpose as I moved throughout my career. I care deeply about Resideo’s customers and I want to help meet their challenges with solutions. One of those challenges has been in attracting good, technical and software talent. I am on the board for FAST (Foundation for Advancing Security Talent, formerly AIREF), and the focus of this organization is to not just encourage young talent to consider the security industry for a job, but to educate them on the great career opportunities that exist for those willing to pursue them.
4. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of change in your 35-year career; what stands out the most to you?
As my fellow sales leaders can attest, doing business today is drastically different than 1985. No cell phone. No pager. No laptop. No 800 number. During long sales trips in the car, you had to find a payphone to check in with the office. Today we are connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For me, the biggest transformation during my time in the industry was the adoption of cell radio, and the subsequent development of service offerings such as Total Connect. This was a huge – and at times painful – change for the industry, but the result has been the creation of more profitable and valuable companies, with enhanced services that have created significant recurring monthly revenue (RMR) opportunities.
(LtoR) Keith's brother Ken Baird, Keith Baird and Ben Cornet Circa 1990.
5. Throughout all of these changes, how have you adapted to the changing environment to stay competitive and serve customers?
I genuinely am interested in people and what makes them tick. I enjoy learning about people and hearing their stories. I know I’m not one of the technical wizards of the industry, so the transition from a security-focused, hardware-driven industry to a broader connected home environment driven more by software solutions than hardware was a high lesson in listening for me. I'm excited when our customers are excited, and the connected home interest continues to change the landscape and increase dealers' RMR and account longevity. So for me it has been easy to listen and be open minded to new ideas because it’s what’s best for my customers.
At a customer event at the Kentucky Derby (LtoR) Joe Nuccio, Kevin O'Connor, Keith Baird and Bob Riccuci.
Congratulations, Keith, on your well-deserved honor and thank you for making Resideo and our customers better! Join us as we raise a glass of Keith’s favorite wine, Mi Sueño Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and celebrate a well-deserved honor.
Keith is a wine connoisseur, a passion he developed during his freshman year of college working at a wine shop. Pictured here in Napa Valley California Keith (center) with Larry (left) and Mike (right) Matson.