Saved by an H&S System

We keep a bulletin board posted with notes when one of our customers deters a crime with their H&S system, or our system helps alert law enforcement to illegal activity. Over the past year or so, a lot of post-it notes have gone up on that bulletin board.


The board is there to remind us of what we do: Protect the lives and property of others. That’s important to us. It’s why we do what we do. Our owners, Steve Garritson and Mike Horgan, got into the security industry because this mission to help others drives them.

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When you seek the services of a security company, you must trust them. We come into your business or home to do an analysis, provide a quote and hopefully secure your support. If you can’t believe and trust a representative of that company, then there is no hope for a successful transaction. That’s another major reason we pride ourselves on the people we hire – we look closely at resumes, the background of the individual and their character. To be part of our team, you must be rock solid.


Read some of our past blogs on our employees. If you look at a common thread in what they have to say about H&S, it’s that they enjoy working here because they get to do important things by helping to protect others. That’s a driving force for our business, and we hope that you see that when we install one of our systems for you.


Our “Saved by their H&S System” bulletin board reflects who we are. It’s there to remind us in a positive way that what we do is important to the lives of others. We won’t ever lose that.

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“Never a Dull Moment”

Life in the security industry for H&S Protection’s Lonnie Miescke can be described as “never a dull moment.” For 36 years she’s been focused on customer issues, and it keeps her on her toes — for 19 years at Central Control and the past 17 years at H&S Protection (previously known as Sentra Protective Systems).

The customers keep her hopping. When she started as a night shift central station operator at Central Control, she followed in the footsteps of a good friend who recruited her to the position. One night she found herself in a scary position.


“We used to stay in touch on 2-way radios. A guy I worked with – Harold – walked in on a break-in. He was hollering over the radio for us to call the cops as he tried to keep the bad guys in by pushing on the door, while they tried to push out. It was scary.”

“There were some spooky times back then, but we were also buddy buddy with the cops. That was always fun,” Lonnie laughed.

At Central Control, Lonnie answered phones when a customer’s alarm went off. She eventually moved up to a supervisory position.

“I still have nightmares about all the buzzing and humming that went on at the central station,” she chuckled. “But we had so much fun. Everything was manual. When a customer would close at night, a light would come on and we’d have to twist a button three times to close the alarm when they left the premises.”

Much has changed since then in the electronic security industry. Lonnie preceded H&S co-owner Steve Garritson at Central Control, but followed him to Sentra Protective when Steve left to start his own business, after he reached out to her.

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At H&S, Lonnie continues to work closely with customers on many fronts. She inputs customer data, serves as the point person for customer inquiries to the Pewaukee office, helps people over the phone to work through issues and avoid a service call, and troubleshoots customer problems.

“The job is never boring. It’s never just one thing. There are a lot of moving parts. There’s always some excitement. I like the customers we have here. I can be buddy buddy with them over the phone,” she observed.

Lonnie enjoys heading up north in Wisconsin for relaxation to a cabin to “chill out, lay on the beach and float in the water.”

“The industry is a lot more complicated now. But there’s never a dull moment – then or now,” she said.

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“Learning New Things on the Job”: H&S’s Greta Terrill

Greta Terrill is constantly learning new things on her job. It’s one of the big reasons she enjoys working at H&S Protection. After her son was born, Greta reentered the workforce on a part-time basis. It was there that she got a call from a temp agency with the offer of a full-time position at H&S.

“It was a welcoming environment,” Greta said when she interviewed for the position and met the people in the Stevens Point office. She appreciated that employees stay with the company, the family atmosphere and the people. As the Administrative Assistant for the Stevens Point office, she chuckled that she gets to do “everything that everyone else doesn’t want to do.”


The job is more than that. Greta may be back in the warehouse area filling orders at one point, ordering business cards during another, then setting up billing for a customer. Her job has grown in her three years at the office. Originally, she worked a lot with H&S’s monitoring company and filing paperwork, but her position has added multiple duties. “It would be hard for me to take more on given how much I have to do now. There’s more work than there are hours in the day,” she said.

Greta is married to Brady and in addition to their son, she has four step children, ages 15, 12, 10 and 7 (their son is 4). Much of her spare time is spent at baseball fields, as Brady serves as a coach in the Stevens Point area. Greta is on the board for Stevens Point Baseball, and said with a laugh, “The baseball season is never technically over when you’re married to a coach.”

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She enjoys the outdoors, including gardening and hunting. “Our family spends a lot of time outdoors. We can foods, hunt, then it’s back to baseball.” In her “spare” time, she also teaches a wellness and essential oil class.

“H&S is an awesome place to work, and good people to work for. You get a lot of opportunity to learn new things,” she said.

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50-Year Industry Veteran Jim Kurtz

When you look at Jim Kurtz’s career at H&S Protection, you might call him a puppy with only 16 years on board. But, when you look at what he brings in terms of experience in the security industry, it’s way, way more. He’s been selling different types of security products and services for over 50 years in Wisconsin. He owned a company for 11 years, and worked for a large national company as well. “I’ve been one of those commissioned sales guys my entire career,” he laughed.


Jim enjoys meeting people on the job and designing residential and commercial systems for customers. “We give them peace of mind,” he said.


Before joining H&S, which was Sentra Protective at the time, Jim worked with current owner Steve Garritson. “Steve and the other owner at the time asked me to come work for them. And I said, ‘Once you get established.’ That was in 1997, and I joined them in 2001. Working for a large company was not my cup of tea, so I was glad to get back to a locally owned company.”


He likes the smaller business environment at H&S and the culture Garritson and co-owner Mike Horgan have created. “Decisions get made here quickly, not like the corporate world where they can bog down,” Jim said.


His favorite thing about his job is the “freedom available in what H&S allows me to do, and the freedom you get as a commissioned sales person. I’ve been in that type of position my entire business life.”


Kurtz is married to his wife Barbara, and they lost a daughter to cancer. They have a son Jeff, and 4 grandchildren. In his spare time, he likes to play cards, and sample restaurants in the Milwaukee area, as well as spend time with friends. After recent surgery to replace a knee, Jim is back up and active. “We also like to spend time in Florida during some of the colder months in Wisconsin. It’s good that our house is well protected by H&S when we are gone. You need to be careful today and you can’t tell everyone about your travel plans,” he observed.


Given his long-term industry experience, Jim said, “It’s nice to have people call you who remember you from years back. It’s gratifying that they remember and call you. I must be doing something right.”


Jim Kurtz has been doing a lot right for H&S, and we’re glad he continues to bring his smiling self to the office and our customers. He enriches our team, and is able to share his experiences inside and outside our walls to help others.

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Nancy DeSandre Rides over 250 Miles on her Bicycle to Help Beat Childhood Cancer

Nancy DeSandre recently completed 250 miles (or 251 to be exact) on her bicycle to help beat childhood cancer. It was a goal of hers for the Great Cycle Challenge, and she ended up raising close to $800 for the Children’s Cancer cause.


An avid bicyclist, Nancy trained over and above her normal routine to prepare for the extra miles.  “But I wouldn’t have made it without my friend Liane’s bike,” Nancy said.


Nancy’s mileage was accumulating nicely (riders break down their trips typically so they don’t have to do a huge chunk in any given day), when her bike broke, got fixed, then broke again, having to go into the shop. “Liane had her old bike – a really nice Trek – that was sitting in her garage and she let me put my miles on it for the challenge,” Nancy explained.


DeSandre, who coordinates service for H&S Protection out of its Pewaukee, WI office, thanked all her contributors and supporters “for encouragement throughout the month of June and the money you donated so I could surpass my fundraising goal. You guys are awesome.” She upped her initial goal from $250 to $500, and then raised close to $300 more than the higher goal.


Because she was one of the first 3,300 riders to raise over $500, Nancy also earned a jersey.


H&S Protection is proud of Nancy’s accomplishments and her contributions to a higher cause. She reflects the types of values we look for in our employees.


The Great Cycle Challenge to date has 38,053 riders, raised $4,262,103 for Children’s Cancer, and ridden 2,552,613 miles!


“Thanks again for such a great month to help beat children’s cancer. I will definitely do this again next year,” Nancy thanked her supporters.

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Harvey Churkey’s 42-Year Journey at H&S

You don’t meet many people these days who’ve been with one company for 42 years. H&S Protection’s Harvey Churkey is one of them. As he laughingly put it, “I got to H&S by car,” but it could have been by air or sea. In his spare time away from the job, Harvey enjoys flying model aircraft and sailing. Harvey and his wife Caren keep their sailboat “Healing Time” 0n Lake Petenwell.  They have also sailed Lake Winnebago, and Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Harvey and a couple friends took on an adventure by chartering a boat and sailed form Sarasota to Sanibel Island (off the coast of Sarasota, FL). “It was a weeklong cruse, but didn’t get quite as far as we expected,” he chuckled.

Harvey came to H&S from Eau Claire where he served as a technician for Guardian. At the time, alarm panels were more basic, with just one zone. He came up with an idea for a 2-zone panel, rechargeable battery, an enter/exit function and delay, and met a guy who designed and assembled panels in Minneapolis. Guardian became an alarm equipment provider and Harvey was the service technician. He also helped in marketing and was involved in trade shows to help supply the new panels to other alarm companies.
Around that time, former H&S owner Ed Horgan was taking his first steps into the alarm industry. Harvey was troubleshooting some issues for Ed in the Stevens Point area, and asked his brother (who lived in the area), what he thought of living there. “He liked it,” Harvey said of his brother. When Harvey mentioned the possibility of moving to Stevens Point to Ed, “It was history after that,” Harvey said.


He came to H&S as a “jack of all trades. I was a security manager of one person,” he laughed. “We had a strong blend of security and fire services. We progressed from there and slowly hired people to install the systems.”


Harvey’s job now is primarily sales and the steps it takes to get the signature from a customer on the bottom line. “I also design the systems we install,” he added.


His favorite part of his position is seeing teamwork, the job well done from start to finish. “I like to see the customer smiling,” he said. “When you sell security systems, there can be a fear factor to be addressed with customers. I like that we give them peace of mind.”


Harvey enjoys the H&S environment: “You have the freedom to pursue your business and to the job without micromanagement.”


Along with his wife Caren, the couple have three children – Tony, Todd and Tina – and six grandchildren.

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What’s the biggest change in the industry Harvey’s seen over the years? “It’s the network connection on systems – everything from cameras to alarms and fire. Everything is IP-based,” he said.


“We always try to look out for the customers’ best interests. H&S Protection is a great place to work. We have a good group of quality people,” Harvey observed.

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Ryan Ramczyk’s Pee Wee Football Years

Ryan Ramczyk stands 6’6” and weighs 311 pounds. He just got drafted out of the University of Wisconsin in the first round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.


We knew Ryan when he was a tad smaller. Years ago, probably when Ryan was still trying to figure out what sport he liked best, H&S Protection was proud to sponsor a Stevens Point, WI Pee Wee football team. Ryan played for the team we sponsored, and it’s awesome to see he’s progressed into a young man taking his skills to the highest level.

At H&S, we believe in personal growth and development, helping our technicians, sales, operations and service personnel and customer response people develop through training and team support. Ryan didn’t get to the University of Wisconsin or the Saints without a lot of sweat equity. He worked hard to get to the next level. We work hard, too, and respect others who take a similar path.


Ryan went to Stevens Point Area High School. He didn’t start college at the University of Wisconsin, instead taking a couple of other steps before landing at UW-Stevens Point, an NCAA Division III school, where he began his college football career. But he realized he could take his skills beyond that and set his sights on DI at UW. He believed in himself and made a remarkable DI career happen.


H&S Protection is proud to have been able to watch and help in one small part of Ryan’s progression to where he is today. People, like businesses, don’t just happen. They take time to reach higher levels. We believe in continuing to develop our business to serve customers to the best of our ability, just like Ryan has done everything he can to the best of his abilities.
We wish Ryan Ramczyk well in the NFL.

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Matt Hills Finds “Perfect Fit” at H&S Protection

Matt Hills found his perfect fit at H&S Protection. As an installer hired this past September, Hills was looking for a position where he could take on a diverse set of duties, be rewarded for initiative and use all his skills.

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When a hiring agency got in touch with Matt after his previous jobs as a fork lift operator and working in manufacturing plants didn’t yield the hours or activities, he sought, he jumped at H&S. “The job description talked about construction wiring and technical smarts. It fit me to a tee. I love tech stuff, and it seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.


He’d been looking for full-time work and had been bored in previous jobs, hoping also to find a position that appreciated him as a hard worker, something he felt hadn’t occurred over the past few years. At age 24, Matt is now settling in with H&S and with his girlfriend Gina, as they look for a place to live together.


“I like that there is something different every day,” Matt said about what he enjoys in his job. “It’s not the same thing every day – like pulling a lever in a plant. It’s fantastic because it’s not factory work, which I’ve done in the past. I get to use my brain instead of just doing what’s expected.”


Matt enjoys the full H&S experience. “H&S treats you like a person, not a number. Mike Horgan (co-owner, along with Steve Garritson, and in charge of the H&S office in Stevens Point, where Matt works out of) is a REAL person. We’re a team, family, close knit. Employees are not a number.”


Hills also appreciates the goal of H&S – protecting people and property. “We keep people safe and give them peace of mind. I go home at night and think to myself, ‘I did good things today’.”


When not installing or servicing alarm systems, video cameras, cable, access control equipment, Hills continues to enjoy working on computers when he is home. He also likes video gaming and describes himself as a “technofile,” which is “why I latched onto networking in the job. It’s a hobby of mine.” He also enjoys hanging out with friends and playing tennis.


“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Matt enthused. “Customers know that they can rely on us as professionals to do a good job. I see firsthand how some other companies don’t give a job the focus and detail it requires. We’re better than the local competitors. I see it firsthand on my installations when I look at the work other companies have done that we have to fix,” he emphasized.

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The Zen Zones of Matt Ballantyne

Matt Ballantyne comes to H&S Protection as a master of two Zen zones: working and fixing things around his house and garage and on the basketball court. He’s hoping to add a third – taking his skill in building and fixing things around his house, and dovetailing that with his new technician position for H&S. “The repair work around the house I prefer to do myself if I can,” he said.


Joining H&S in January after working in the food industry off and on since he was 13, Matt has already picked up a lot on the job. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve always been interested in audiovisual technology. My dad was a master electrician and it’s been fun learning about the stuff he did his whole life. If I have questions, I’ve been able to ask him what to do,” Matt observed.


Matt also did an 8-and-a-half-9 year stint in the prison industry as a guard, until he was assaulted. “I loved everything about the job, but after I had my jaw and orbital bone broken, I couldn’t pass the psych evaluation test afterwards,” he said. After the assault incident, prison employees are given mandatory 90 days off, then must pass the evaluation to return to their job.


Beyond his work in the prison, Ballantyne was unaware of the security industry. “I looked up H&S on the Internet and they had a high reputation in the area. I was looking for something where I could take care of my family and get on a more regular schedule,” he said. His restaurant position had erratic hours and Ballantyne is happy now to be on a consistent schedule to spend time with his family.

Matt is married to his wife Janelle, and they have a son Xavier (4) and a daughter on the way. “Taking care of my family is big for me,” he said.


He likes Wisconsin, but misses family in North Dakota and Utah. Until moving to SE Wisconsin to help with his in-laws, Ballantyne spent most of his life in North Dakota. He wrestled through high school and at Ricks College, Rexburg, ID (currently BYU-Idaho).


“At the Christmas party when I served H&S, I talked with Steve (Garritson) and Nancy (DeSandre), and let them know I was looking for more family time. Steve asked, “Are you good with your hands?’ I told him yes, and it was history after that.”
“I didn’t know anything about H&S at the time, but have seen a high level of professionalism since joining the team,” Matt added.


Matt loves basketball, playing six days a week at churches in the area surrounding Oconomowoc. He also used to referee kids basketball games.


“The garage and basketball court are my two little zen zones,” Matt smiled. H&S sees a third Zen zone as Matt brings his skills to security projects around SE Wisconsin. H&S welcomes Matt to the team.

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H&S Snapshot Helps in Capture of Waukesha Bank Robber

A snapshot of an H&S Protection video clip helped lead to the apprehension of a Waukesha, WI bank robber this week. The clip was pulled from a video system recently upgraded for the bank by H&S. Last week, H&S helped publicize the robbery in our blog and through social media channels, to help police in their efforts to capture the criminal. You can read more on the previous story here. Below is the mug shot, which you can compare with the image we pulled.


H&S works closely with banks and other clients to ensure technology is regularly assessed and upgraded. In this case, the bank’s cameras were analog. Given the outdated nature of analog technology, H&S assessed, recommended, then installed newer digital cameras that improved the quality and clarity of the images captured during the event. This allowed us to pull a high resolution photo clip from the video and share that with law enforcement.


H&S owners Steve Garritson and Mike Horgan had this to say: “One of the major reasons we got into the security business and enjoy the work we do is our ability to help businesses and homeowners protect their assets, employees and families. To do that well, we regularly look at new technologies available from manufacturers and what would make the best sense for our customers’ needs.”


“For banks, there is a strong need for the most up-to-date camera quality. We meet regularly with the banks we service, and provide information to them to ensure the best protection possible.”


“In this case, we couldn’t be prouder of how things turned out, and that we were able to do our part to help local law enforcement. Sharing the photo clip is an added service we can provide to help protect local businesses and homes in the communities we serve throughout Southeast and Central Wisconsin,” they said.

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