Honoring The Past By Focusing On The Future

Last week had the pleasure of being the Master of Ceremonies at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Sensormatic. Over 300+ current employees and a large number of alumni gathered in Boca Raton to honor the legacy of a very successful retail loss prevention brand.

I must admit that I was initially skeptical on the need to celebrate the past as my focus has always been on driving a positive future. This hesitation was reinforced by a recent article titled ‘Why Steve Jobs Turned Down The Idea Of A Big 30th Anniversary Party.’  “Apple is focused on the future, not the past,” said Jobs. 

50 years is a major milestone. Reflecting on the history of Sensormatic and its impact on retail loss prevention, it’s an important time to assess the lessons of the past and celebrate the promising future ahead. 

Vision, customers first, and teamwork are the strategy elements to the Sensormatic brand successful first half century.  


 “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”Joel A. Barker

Early in his career, Ronald G. Assaf was a supermarket store manager in Akron, Ohio. One day he noticed a young man walking out of the store without paying for two bottles of wine. Unable to catch the thief on foot, Ron was inspired to find a better solution. Jointly with his cousin John Welsh, Ron invented the first anti-shoplifting system. 

Initial focus was on Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) and directly protecting consumer items from retail theft. Marketing strategies included a DC-7 airplane as a mobile showroom for the solutions. Through acquisitions, the product line eventually expanded to video and access control.  By the end of the 1990s, Sensormatic was the $1 billion retail loss prevention industry leader. 

Coalescing with innovative products was a visionary discerning company culture. The energy present in the building during the 50th Celebration this past week and the multiple follow up emails / Facebook posts are clear evidence that the Sensormatic culture is still thriving today.

Worth remembering that “loyal, passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal, passionate customers. They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively, and find ways to go the extra mile. They bring you more great employees. And that spreads even more happiness – happiness for employees, for customers, and for shareholders.”

Customers First

“‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou

None of Sensormatic’s successful growth would have been possible without the fanatic culture of putting the customer first. I was lucky enough to join Sensormatic at the height of the growth curve.  It was a magical ride watching everyone focused on putting the customer first.  

The loss prevention community recognized and embraced the pro-loss prevention retail industry culture. Both sides thrived from the steady flow of new product innovations in EAS with UltraMax and in video with SensorVision. New services such as source tagging which are still growing today emerged in those intensive early growth years. 


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”Henry Ford 

The vision to be a leader in retail loss prevention, the resolve to build a strong company culture, the dedication to putting customer first are the foundational elements to great teamwork. Everyone on the Sensormatic team was focused on winning by making the customer successful. 

“Teams that demonstrate better teamwork processes are more likely to believe their team can succeed, are more committed to their team, and most importantly, they are about 20% to 25% more likely to succeed.”  

My personal drive to constantly learn, evaluate new approaches, embrace new technologies, spend as much time as possible in front of customers was fine-tuned during the aggressive growth years of Sensormatic. I quickly realized that change brings new opportunities. 

The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Sensormatic brand was a reminder that it is important to honor the past. Steve Jobs was wrong. Always honor the past, but remember to focus on celebrating the potential bright future ahead. 

For additional retail, technology, and leadership information visit www.tonydonofrio.com


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