40 years and counting! GBSG celebrates its Ruby anniversary

GBSG 40th anniversary logo in red with large 40 and 1984-2024

GBSG Ltd, the Spalding based security business is celebrating its ruby anniversary this year. Established in 1984 by its current Chairman Stephen Wright, it has gone from strength to strength. We sat down with him for a look back over the past 40 years.

Stephen Wright

What inspired you to set up GBSG?

Before GBSG, there was HB Alarms which was set up in 1979. This was part of Holland Brothers and we were the first non-national company to be approved by the NSICIA – now the NSI. 

I had no real experience but I made sure I understood all the requirements and that we were adhering to them. I applied and got approval which was quite a thing at the time.

Nobody local at the time

Prior to HB Alarms, most local businesses used national companies which meant lengthy waits for call outs because technicians came from Leicester or elsewhere. This was expensive and inefficient so our local presence proved popular. We gave an excellent service and at one time we probably had about half of the alarms in the area.

How did GBSG come about?

My father-in-law John Barnsdale was running George Barnsdale & Sons, the timber joinery company and he asked me to take over running it. Since I already had the alarms business, he asked me to bring that into the fold and GB Alarms was formed in 1984.

GB Alarms old logo

 

It started in Donington with me and one administrator and I subsequently brought along a chap from Holland Brothers to look after sales.

Running both businesses was hard work, especially with a young family but we grew both sides of the business through embracing technology and the latest regulations.

We provided systems for businesses and domestic customers. In 1987, we secured our first CCTV installation at the Caterpillar Dealers in Leverton. We provided Guarding services there too.

Aircraft and police caused us problems

I recall problems in the early days with aricraft from the local RAF bases interfering with alarms and causing lots of false alarms. The police communications systems also used to be a problem. We had to make sure we used equipment that was robust and able to deal with issues like this, it was a bit more expensive but far more reliable.

When did the company really start to grow?

I would say this was when we got Dave and Neil on board. Dave Simpson used to be a technical engineer in the Navy and Neil had completed an electrical apprenticeship. Both were very competent and technically minded. Neil joined in 1990 and Dave two years later.

Dave Simpson
Dave Simpson
Neil Jackson
Neil Jackson, MD

We opened the monitoring station soon after this in 1994 as we saw the change that remotely monitored CCTV could have. I think we were the first in the county to provide this and it was a complex thing to set up. There was no wifi, of course, so everything was done by modems and cables. We had a dedicated cable from here to Rugby because speed was a problem. Using clever software developed by a company called Hyperscan in the US, the system looked at images and only refreshed bits that had changed saving valuable bandwidth. This was called conditional refresh and was quite advanced at the time. ISDN came in which improved speed followed by ISDN 2.

By 1999, GB Monitoring was officially set up and we started to take on monitoring for other companies.

What about your involvement with the British Standards?

In 2001, Neil became involved with the BSIA’s development of standards for remotely monitored CCTV. This was to become BS8418

Work like this put us at the forefront of the industry and was testament to the technical knowledge people like Neil have at GBSG.

By 2004 we had achieved NSI Gold for ARC and RVRC – this is the highest standard possible and we continue to hold this to this day.

Since then, we have launched our first fully integrated alarm and RVRC when ESI software was installed in our control room. This has enabled us to really expand nationally and we started to take on a number of solar farm projects around the UK. By 2017 we were the largest provider of solar farm security in the UK and even expanded into Europe.

CCTV at a solar farm overseeing solar panels and perimeter fencing

When did the company become GBSG?

We changed to GBSG in 2009 to reflect the breadth of what we offered. We were no longer just security alarms, but included monitoring services, access control, fire services, guarding services and much more – complete security!

 

You stepped down as MD in 2013, how do you feel about the company as it celebrates 40 years?

We have lasted 40 years because we are good at what we do. There are alarm systems of ours that are 30 years old and still going strong.

Since ancient times, rubies have symbolized passion, protection and wealth. It is appropriate that we have been protecting people and their assets for 40 years. I’m proud of what we have achieved and I can envisage the company continuing beyond the next 40 years!

You can read more about our history here

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