Last week, we learned about the early life of Mijac founder Jacques Sopkin. Today, we will find out bit about the birth of the company, how Jacques’ son Steve built upon his father’s work, and where Mijac is today.
The birth of Mijac Alarm
In 1971, Mitzi and Jacques sold their first alarm system in the garage of their house with only a handshake. They didn’t have a formal contract, but that first deal laid the foundation for the personal, family-style approach to business that Mijac has lived by for over 40 years. Right from the start, Mitzi and Jacques wanted to have a “different kind of alarm company.”
The Mijac Alarm Philosophy
The philosophy of Mijac Alarm can be summed up fairly effectively by quoting Jacques himself:
“I wanted to have a company that was smaller, with just one office that would respond directly to service calls, did the best job possible, where you could pick up the phone and get a live person in the office.”
Even after more than 4 decades of growth and success, Mijac Alarm still operates with that underlying philosophy. Although the number of employees has grown to 30, there remains a sense of family and community amongst the employees, and by extension, to the customers.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this philosophy in action is seen in a decision that was made early on in the company. Lewis Homes, one of the largest property development companies in California (as well as a major Mijac Alarm client) decided to open an office in Las Vegas, and gave Jacques the opportunity to expand there as well. After a great deal of deliberation, Jacques, Mitzi determined that, while there was certainly opportunity for significant growth, opening an office in Las Vegas would undermine the fundamental philosophy that the company was based upon. Instead of being a local company where customers could call or visit the office anytime, an expansion would depersonalize the company. The decision was made not to expand to Las Vegas, and instead redouble effort and focus on LA County and the Inland Empire.
As Jacques has said, “We aren’t competing with ADT. We do it our way or we don’t do it at all.”
The Future of Mijac Alarm
Jacques was President of Mijac Alarm for over 20 years, and in 1991 his son Steve took over as President of the company. In the 24 years since, Steve has grown the company from 10 to 30 employees, and from 2,000 to more than 10,000 installed alarm systems, along with the acquisition of several smaller alarm companies. Steve has upheld Jacques philosophy in a number of ways, one of which is a bi-monthly meeting where positive feedback from employees or customers is read, with days off and other awards given to those who go above and beyond for their team and their customers.
Steve’s daughter Shelby also joined the Mijac Alarm family in 2013 after graduating from Monmouth University. She is already following in her father’s footsteps by becoming involved in both the operation and community outreach aspects of the business, and is already on the board of directors of the local Kiwanis club – something both Steve, her father did at her age along with Jacques over 30 years earlier in the same club. When Shelby was recently inducted, both her father and grandfather attended the morning meeting in Upland to help celebrate the 3rd generation joining the group.
It is clear that Jacques has created something quite unique in the alarm business, as both employees and customers will readily attest to. One fact that stands out is that 4 Mijac employees – Steve Smith, Rob Onder, Mike O’Neill, and Bruce Robinson – have been at the company for over 25 years. In the coming weeks, we will discuss each of their stories, including how they came to work at Mijac, their perspective on the company philosophy, and what working for Mijac has meant to them.