Not long out of high school, Ryan Douglas joined Central Security as a technician in 1999. It was a good fit. The family-owned business had recently opened its Sandhills Home Theater division and Douglas rose steadily through the ranks from installations, to project management, to sales.
On Sept. 1, he stepped into his newest role: owner.
“Ryan is really passionate and loves what he does. That is why it is so fun to work with him,” said Jason Harpster, Central Security’s general manager. “When he wanted to take on more responsibility, we felt ownership was a good opportunity for him to achieve the dream he had always wanted.”
Central Security was founded in 1985 by Dick, Darlene and Don Harpster. They moved to their present location on NorthWest Broad Street in downtown Southern Pines in 1988, and the company expanded its line up of services to include home theater installations in 1996. Jason Harpster joined the family business full-time after college in 2010.
In recent years, Central Security has begun working on large fire alarm systems for commercial clients, including FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Pinehurst Resort, the new Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen and Penick Village’s new facilities in Southern PInes.
“Security and alarms, those are a need, whereas our home theater customers are looking for fun stuff like whole house sound systems. Ryan has a vision for where he wants to take the business and my family wants to see him be successful. This was a natural next step.”
Terms of the deal were not announced. The two separate businesses will continue to operate under one roof in Southern Pines and both companies primarily serve clients in Moore County.
“Basically this is a dream come true for me. It is neat to have ownership of what we’ve worked really hard at growing,” said Douglas. “The Harpsters have offered profit sharing to their employees over the years, allowed me to run the division since 2010, and now let me take ownership. That is huge. They are great people to work for.”
“It is still very much a partnership and we are looking forward to continuing to work together. It is not a coincidence that a lot of his customers are Central Security customers as well,” Harpster added.
A Moore County native, Douglas said he’s always enjoyed the technical side of the home theater business. He had a bit of a construction background going in which he said has been helpful. Home networking and automation are frequent requests right now.
“If a client has a budget and a dream, we can do it. You can have an entire house operate from a single remote if you want,” he said. “The guys I have working for me are awesome. I believe in surrounding myself with people that are smarter than me and we definitely have the team to do that. We will put all of our heads together to come up with the best solution to get it done.”
Harpster said if there is a secret sauce in business, it is treating your customers and employees like family. He’s also grateful that Moore County has flourished as a micropolitan area while retaining its charm and character.
“We have the amenities and services that you would find in a larger city without the headaches that go along with it. We have seen our business benefit with families moving to the area and new businesses to the area because of the military. It is not lost on us that we have these veteran-owned businesses and a number of customers because of the base realignment of Fort Bragg.”
Jason Harpster and his father, Dick, have both served on the board of the Southern Pines Business Association. The group sponsors a number of family-friendly events including the annual Christmas Parade. Sandhills Home Theater also co-partnered with the town of Southern Pines to create Movies in the Park, which have been scheduled seasonally since 2013.
“Ryan spearheaded the effort to work with the town’s recreation department to do those movies in the spring and fall. When we talk about why we are grateful for being a part of this community, we see it as protecting families and businesses,” Harpster said. “That is the gratifying part.”