'20 under 40' 2013 - Johnny Cunningham
Johnny Cunningham, 36
Director of information technology, ADS Security
How did you get into the security industry?
I became an alarm installer for about five years and then I was the ops manager for a company here in town. I pretty much knew the outside of the business and then I took a break to run my own company for a while, doing data and communications. I did that for several years and in the process I learned quite a bit about computers. The former IT director that was here [at ADS] was a pure IT guy—he didn't know anything about the alarm industry. He was a friend of mine and knew that I had gotten well versed on computers, so that's why I came to work here, to be the backbone for everything that had to do with alarm communication.
Who or what in the industry has inspired you most in your security career?
The technology piece of it. I think ADS is very far ahead of a lot of central stations and alarm companies in general with some of the things we're doing with development. I like to think we're on the cutting edge of technology. I like being at the forefront and the ADS team always stands completely behind me as far as embracing new technology and what we need to purchase.
What can be done to boost the ranks of young people in the industry?
I think that the way [the industry] has progressed and with technology being such a big part of it now—coming from old POTS lines and Ademco 685 receivers up into the IP world, and the way that everything is in a virtual environment now—I think that's what is going to attract the younger generation. … A lot of these guys are fresh out of school and they want to work with the newest technology. That used to not be the alarm industry, but I feel like it is now.