Industry 'visionary' killed in car crash

John Mabry was a CSAA board member and past president
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—Industry members are mourning the death of John Mabry, who died Friday in a head-on vehicle collision in Georgia while en route to visit family in that state.

Mabry, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) president from 1981-1983 and also a longtime ex-officio board member, is being remembered this week for his expertise and dedication to the industry, and for his warm personality.

“It's a big loss to the industry, no question, a big loss to ADS, and a big loss to me personally,” Mel Mahler, chairman and CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based ADS Security, told Security Systems News. He said Mabry was a close friend and also an ADS board member for 14 years.

Mahler recalled how he and his wife first met Mabry at a gathering in 1996, when Mabry was president of Security Network of America, a group of independent security firms that formed an organization to compete with larger national companies.

“It was typical John Mabry,” Mahler said. “We don’t know him, he doesn't know us, and within minutes it was like we knew each other our whole lives. And anyone you talk to will tell you the same thing.”

He said Mabry always reminded him of the actor Walter Matthau. “He looks like him, he talks like him, he sounds like Walter Matthau. He’s a wonderful guy,” said Mahler, a CSAA board member and a former president.

The CSAA issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the Nov. 18 death of Mabry, who founded and built the American Alarm Co., one of the nation’s leading independent security companies when it was bought by Honeywell in 1983. Mabry then worked as a Honeywell VP.

Steve Doyle, CSAA executive VP and CEO, said he had known Mabry for 20 years, and praised his contributions to the industry.

“Over the years, the association often sought out John’s advice, as he was one of the visionaries in our industry,” Doyle said in a statement. “He was immensely helpful to the staff and to the board. John’s warmth and humor often spread calm on troubled waters.  His insight into people and companies was always amazing.  John was one of the ‘movers and shakers’ in our industry. He was a former Navy veteran and a true patriot, and will be sorely missed.”

Ed Bonifas, past president of the CSAA and co-chairman of the group’s Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) committee, who said he had known Mabry for about 30 years, echoed Doyle’s comments.

“He’s one of those guys that you include when you’re making long-range plans because he always had a good insight into business and this industry and what was going on,” Bonifas told SSN. “He was a good businessman, he was a good colleague at CSAA and he was a great family man.”

Mahler said Mabry also was a former president of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and was instrumental in founding NBFAA’s National Training School. Mabry was one of a small group of industry members who have been president of both that group, now called the Electronic Security Association or ESA, and the CSAA, Mahler said.

In recent years, Mabry was involved in investment transactions in the industry, Mahler said.

Mabry lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. A gathering for friends and family has been tentatively planned for Dec. 2, with a memorial service on Dec. 3, according to the CSAA.