In Memoriam: David McDonald, CEO, Pelco

David McDonald

Pelco’s former CEO was known for generous giving, a strong community commitment and building a company with legendary customer service

This week, people in California will be celebrating the life of David McDonald, the former CEO of Pelco. Dave was a legend in the security industry and did many things that positively changed the industry.

Operations, Customer Service Excellence and Culture

The “new” Pelco originally set out in 1987 to do something different for security manufacturers: deliver quality products on the date they were committed to ship. Security dealers and systems integrators often didn’t know when to expect their security cameras, so they were challenged to meet schedules for their customers. Additionally, if the product wasn’t in stock, the assembly line schedules were modified to meet customer-specific orders that day. By improving manufacturing and logistics, Pelco ensured its customers knew they would receive their products on time.

Pelco changed the customer experience. All calls to Pelco were answered by live employees, not an answering system. That person was accountable to make sure if they couldn’t resolve the request, they forwarded the caller to someone who could handle it, and not voicemail. That process went a step further in making it clear that all employees would meet each customer request to the satisfaction of the client. That’s right, Mr. McDonald instructed all employees in their orientation classes that they were empowered to deliver a result that would delight the customer. No one would ever be in trouble for doing what the customer requested. Pelco called it “Fanatical Customer Service.”

Pelco set a new path for post-sale support. All support calls were handled by customer service engineers. Free repairs were turned around in 24 hours! One client complained that it took two days for their repair turnaround, but they had sent a competitor’s camera. Pelco technicians got the parts and completed the fix – and it was still free.

Education on technology and Pelco products was free to all customers. Once the student got to the training location, Pelco would take care of food, lodging and instruction. And for those that couldn’t make it to a local office, Pelco Mobile Showcases came to them. Thousands of people in the security were educated by Pelco trainers and technicians.

The Pelco ISC West Party was legendary! It included concerts with famous bands like the Beach Boys and Chicago. It was a can’t-miss event for customers and another way for the company to give back to customers.

All Pelco employees had an opportunity to improve the company, its products and its service through the Bright Ideas Program. Feeling so close to the company, the workers showed their passion every day to customers who called or came to the Pelco campus for training, tours and meetings. Associates were rewarded with Pelco Bucks for productivity, quality and meeting department goals. This “currency” could be used to purchase goods from the gift gallery for themselves, family and friends. And the benefits for all 2,500 employees were significant.

Community and Service

Soon after Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. McDonald chartered flights for any and all New York police and fire personnel who wanted to come to California to dedicate the 9/11 memorial at the company’s headquarters. Hundreds came. Attendees were so moved that they sent to Pelco all types of World Trade Center memorabilia for the Pelco 9/11 museum. Mr. McDonald was asked by both the New York Police Department and the New York Fire Department to be their grand marshal for the following New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Since Dave couldn’t be in two places at one time, 100 Pelco people marched with one group while Dave walked with the other.

Toys for Tots was a big program for Pelco, the U.S. Marines and Fresno County. Each year, Pelco donated more toys to Toys for Tots than any other company in the United States. Well over a million toys were given over time.

When the Fresno Zoo was in danger of losing their accreditation, Mr. McDonald dedicated 20 employees to work full time developing a marketing program and delivering speeches and signs to get Measure Z passed. It passed with over 70 percent of the vote, and the zoo was saved and now flourishes. It was another excellent example of outstanding coordination between a company and its community.

Dave McDonald positively impacted the security industry and many of us in it. Rest in peace, Dave.

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