Frank De Fina put Samsung on the map related to video surveillance in the United States market. Five years ago, before the longtime Panasonic executive signed on, the Samsung brand had little traction in the U.S. surveillance market, although the Korean giant was already well known in the broader electronics market. Back then Samsung surveillance cameras were thought of as inferior to Panasonic, Sony or the other brands – if they were thought of at all.
Five years later, Samsung is climbing up the market share rankings. A lot of the success can be attributed to Samsung’s technological advances and the innovation of new products they are bringing to market. The products have gotten better, true, but De Fina gets the credit for building a solid management infrastructure and expanding the distribution channels over the last five years. Now, those elements will be continuing without him.
“I’m leaving the company in better shape than I found it,” said De Fina, Samsung’s executive vice-president, North America. He emphasizes that his parting with Samsung at the end of May is “amicable” and “based on personal reasons,” among them a grueling 106-mile-a-day commute. “I want the industry to know I’m taking a breather,” he said. “I want to adjust my life to better suit some of the issues I have.”
“Building the Samsung brand and credibility were the main focus early on,” De Fina said. “You have to have great products, great people and success stories by customers who were willing to take a chance.” His only regret is that it took five years to accomplish the turnaround. “I wish I could have done it in two years instead of five,” he said.
“Five years ago, it was literally a shell,” De Fina remembers. “There were no processes and no team. I am pleased to say I organized and built a great team. The credit for building the business goes to that team.” The success has been notable as Samsung has increased its market share in the United States and is on track to increase U.S. video surveillance sales by more than 75 percent this year over last.
”The team at Samsung is great, and I don’t want them to suffer from this (departure) being misunderstood,” said De Fina in a telephone conference call with a dozen or so security industry journalists. In the call, he deferred any mention of his possible successor to “the management at Samsung.”
What’s next for Frank De Fina? One possibility is to work as a consultant, he said. “I’d like to be a business professor at Princeton (near my home), but I don’t have a degree in physics, and they would probably check,” he joked.