Dick Gill is reflecting these days on more than 50 years ago, when he first installed a burglar alarm for his father’s real estate business in north Fayetteville.
“He had a break-in at his office,” Gill says. “I was working at Sears Roebuck, but I made an alarm and put it in his office. It was just a rig, but it worked.”
William Gill never had another break-in at his business.
When Ken Ritter had a break-in in 1973 at his Exxon service station across town, Ritter called on Dick Gill.
“I put one in for him,” Gill says.
Dick Gill just has a knack for such.
“He’s an electronics genius,” says Alan Buffaloe, general manager of Gill Security Systems, the Fayetteville business Gill founded on April 1, 1983, and on Thursday celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden Orangery with 40 of the company’s first clients, 40 longtime clients and special guests from the business community.
Dick Gill says he began with 50 customers and working out of his home. He had one employee.
“It was,” he says, “just me.”
Today, Gill Security Systems has, Gill says, some 10,000 clients that include home and commercial accounts such as Cape Fear Valley Health System and Fayetteville Public Works Commission. You’ll find those Gill Security Systems signs at homes and businesses throughout this county, and counties to include Bladen, Lee, Moore, Harnett, Hoke, Sampson and Robeson, too. And even in Wake County up Raleigh way.
“We sell peace of mind,” Dick Gill, 71, says about burglar, smoke and fire alarms. And don’t forget interior and exterior camera surveillance and those automatic pass keys for entrance into a business.
A hometown success
Dick Gill is a hometown fellow with a humble way.
“We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t need for anything,” he says about growing up. “I try to remember where I came from.”
He graduated from Terry Sanford High School, Class of 1971, and headed to Robeson Technical Community College in Lumberton to study radio and television repair. He later worked for Sears Roebuck downtown from the stockroom to the TV service center. From there, it was on to Holmes Electric, the downtown security systems business, under the late Luke Wheeler. He worked there from 1975 to 1983.
“I thought the world of Luke,” Gill says, “and I still do today.”
Gill says he told Wheeler about perhaps going out on his own, but Wheeler thought it may have just been something of a business pipe dream.
“I told my mama and she said, ‘You’re a fool,’” Gill says of the business that began out of his College Lakes home. “So, I started it on April 1, 1983. It was scary. But I had some really good Fayetteville family customers.”
Today, there are 34 employees at Gill Security Systems, including Buffaloe, who has been with the business since July 13, 2009.
“He is wonderful,” Gill says about Buffaloe, who is the son of former South View High School Principal Lawrence Buffaloe and Ann Buffaloe, a longtime schoolteacher with Cumberland County Schools. “He comes from good stock.”
Gill says he always had his eye on Buffaloe’s skills dealing with people when Buffaloe was working with a prominent radio station. When corporate America sent Buffaloe on his way, like corporate America likes to do, Dick Gill welcomed him with open arms.
“I love getting up and going to work every day,” Buffaloe says. “I love working with people, and we are blessed to have a good staff.”
‘Dick Gill is first class’
Longtime customers turned out by the numbers Thursday to share in the anniversary celebration with Dick Gill and his employees.
“Dick, I want to tell you how proud I am of you and your company,” Jay Wyatt told those in attendance.
Jimmy Townsend would agree.
“He has great customer service,” said Townsend, a real estate business owner of 40 years, too. “Dick Gill is first class.”
The day was done.
Dick Gill relaxed on the patio outside the Orangery.
He was a man at peace, and a man grateful for those who have for so long believed in Gill Security Systems for their “peace of mind.”
He has never forgotten his humble beginnings or those who helped him along the way, including the late Luke Wheeler and customers of yesterday and today.
“I’ve been blessed,” Dick Gill says.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-624-1961.