By Mason Lerner
Killeen Daily Herald
Keith Messer knew he had his work cut out for him when he established Veteran Alarm almost five years ago.
He had to knock on a lot of doors, but he now has 700 customers who depend on his home and business security systems to protect them. Messer steadily built up his clientele despite going head-to-head with industry giants like ADT.
“It has been David versus Goliath,” he said.
Messer used a background in information technology and sales to build his business the old-fashioned way. He opened Veteran Alarm in 2007, shortly after leaving his job as vice president of another local security firm. He slowly built up his clientele by canvassing neighborhoods and distributing promotional fliers.
To this day, Messer wakes up every morning and spends an hour in a different neighborhood giving out fliers.
“It’s great exercise, and it’s great for business,” said the 13-year Army veteran. “So I get two benefits.”
Messer’s latest flier is aimed at homes with ADT and Vivint signs in their front yards. The flier says, “Have one of these signs in your yard? You are paying too much for security.” David apparently keeps his slingshot steadily aimed at Goliath’s jugular.
Lower prices and more personalized service are the keys to the company’s growth, Messer said.
“When my customers need service, I am out there. It doesn’t take me two days or more. I can be there in hours because I am local.
“We do the exact same services for a fraction of the cost,” Messer said. “I can do that because I have low overhead.”
Messer works out of his home in Killeen. He and his five contract employees sell, install and maintain security systems from Waco to San Antonio. He currently services about 75 homes in the Killeen area as well as several prominent businesses.
“I did the security system at the downtown Trailway Bus Station,” Messer said. “And I do all of the Big Zack Tire Shack locations.”
Veteran Alarm charges between $19.99 and $29.99 for its monthly services. Instead of selling equipment, Messer rents it out to his customers. He said this saves money on both ends.
“They don’t have to buy anything,” he said. “And I can use it on account after account.”
Messers makes sure to carry around a letter ADT sent to one of his clients on his sales calls. The letter explains how the recipient’s monthly rates will be raised by $2.79. Messer said he never raises rates after a contract is signed.
“That is bad business,” he said. “If I raise the rates after they sign a contract, they will get mad, and I will lose business.
Messer said the value he brings to the table is “Kryptonite” to his competitors. And Messer, who is in the Reserve, thinks he has another ace in the hole.
“Part of the reason I started this business was to provide jobs for veterans,” said Messer. ”We protected the country; now let us protect your home and business.”