About 450 people attended the Chamber breakfast to recognize the 2014 Small Business of the Year winner, Kennesaw-based LOUD Security Systems.
Established in 1995 by John Loud, a former Delta flight attendant who was born and raised in Boston and moved to Cobb in 1995, LOUD Security Systems installs, maintains and monitors residential and commercial security systems.
LOUD Security Systems started with a handful of supporters in Loud’s basement. The company is now located off Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw and employs 55 people, which Loud admitted makes him scared to realize.
“You hear about all the business that fail,” said Loud, who is the executive committee director for the Cobb Chamber.
Agnes Murner, of Acworth, who has been a receptionist at LOUD Security Systems for more than three years, said Loud is a considerate and understanding boss who ensures his employees have the necessary training.
“John is a strong Christian and he operates the company on those principles,” Murner said. “His personality draws everyone in … He makes us a team.”
Last fall, Loud and a half dozen other small business owners created the “Cobb Home of the Braves” group.
The group placed six billboards around the county to convince the public to lobby commissioners to vote in favor of a deal between the county and baseball franchise to build a $672 million stadium by Cumberland Mall.
County Chairman Tim Lee has publically thanked the group, calling them “critically important” to spreading public awareness about the stadium project.
Loud also organized rallies and launched commercial advertising campaigns directed at Cobb residents to garner more support.
While running the “Cobb Home of the Braves” campaign, Loud said the effort was not for personal benefit, but to promote economic development in Cobb.
“At the end of the day, how you grow is becoming entrenched in the community,” Loud said Monday morning about being a small business owner.
The Cobb Chamber credits LOUD Security Systems for doubling the company’s volunteer time and donations to the community in the last year, which included contributions to the Big Shanty Festival, Taste of Kennesaw and Taste of Acworth.
The Small Business of the Year distinction was first awarded in 1982. Last year’s winner was Pucket EMS.
Drew Tonsmeire, director of Kennesaw State University’s Small Business Development Center, said more than 80 percent of the Cobb Chamber is made of small businesses.
In order to be considered as one of the Top 25 Small Businesses of the Year, the company must be for-profit and a Cobb Chamber member.
Each applicant must demonstrate an increase in sales or unit volume, show innovation, give examples of facing adversity and provide evidence of community contributions.
Loud said small businesses in Cobb support each other and the best advice he can give to the operator of a newly created company is to “seek guidance.”
“There are so many people out there; they want you to succeed,” he said.
The security business is about building and retaining the customer base, Loud said.
The long-term customer relationships start with hooking the client, Loud said, then the services continue to be billed, but crews are only sent to a home or business if there is a problem.
LOUD Security Systems is small enough the customer feels the hometown touch, but Loud said he is able to learn from bigger security companies without wasting thousands of dollars from his business.
Top 25 Small Businesses of 2014:
• Bob Steele Salon, Marietta
• The Bottoms Group LLC, Marietta
• Brookmeade Healthcare, Kennesaw
• Casteel Heating and Cooling Inc., Marietta
• Cumberland Diamond Exchange, Smyrna
• Deluxe Athletics LLC, Marietta
• Ed Voyles Automotive Group, Marietta
• Fulfillment Strategies International, Inc., Austell
• Gaskins Surveying and Engineering Company, Marietta
• IAG Forensics, Marietta
• Innovative Marketing & Design, Smyrna
• JAT Consulting, Kennesaw
• Laser Ventures Inc., Woodstock
• LOUD Security Systems, Kennesaw
• Mopdog Creative + Strategy, Kennesaw
• NGA Staffing, Kennesaw
• Omega Learning Center, Acworth
• Otter’s Chicken, Marietta
• The Printheads, Marietta
• The Service Fort, Atlanta
• SimpleC, Atlanta
• State Farm, Linda R. Rodriguez Insurance Agency, Marietta
• Veterinary Products Inc., Kennesaw
• Warrior Pride Fitness, Marietta
• The Wendy Bunch Team, RE/MAX PURE, Marietta