Keeping Your Small Business Safe from Cybercriminals—Scott Schober, CEO, Berkeley Varitronics Systems

How are you keeping your business safe from cybercriminals? Or have you ever thought about it? This is the time of year when we are busy spending on end-of-year deals, and customers are spending with us, whether they are spending some of their profit before the end of the year or they are Christmas shopping. But this end-of-year frenzy can create the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals. 

That is exactly why we have our guest, Scott Schober, on to talk about how to keep your small business safe.


  • FACEBOOK: /WirelessDetection | /SeniorCyberBook 
  • INSTAGRAM: @Scott_Schober | @BVsystems | @HackedAgainBook 
  • TWITTER: @ScottBVS | @BVsystems | @HackedAgainBook |@SeniorCyber 
  • LINKEDIN: /in/snschober 


Scott Schober is the President and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems, a 48-year-old, New Jersey based provider of advanced, world-class wireless test and security solutions. He is the author of three best-selling security books: Hacked Again, Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business, and Senior Cyber. 

Scott is a highly sought-after author and expert for live security events, media appearances, and commentary on the topics of ransomware, wireless threats, drone surveillance and hacking, cybersecurity for consumers, and small business. He is often seen on ABC News, Bloomberg TV, Al Jazeera America, CBS This Morning News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more networks. Scott also serves as the CSO and Chief Media Commentator for Cybersecurity Ventures and sits on several cyber advisory boards for various companies.


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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):

Welcome to the Multiply Your Success Podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. As we open today, I’m wondering how you are keeping your business safe from cyber criminals or have you even thought about it? the reason I’m bringing up is because this is the time of year when we are all busy spending on year end deals and customers are spending with us.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:32):

Whether they’re spending some of their profit as a business to business customer, whether they’re spending that with you before the end of the year to reduce their potential tax liability, or maybe it’s just a general consumer getting in some last minute Christmas shopping. But either way, this end of year frenzy can create perfect opportunity for cyber activity and cyber crime.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:55):

That is the exact reason why we want to have our guests on today, Scott Schober, to talk about how to keep your small business safe from cyber crime. Now Scott is the president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems, a 48 year old company providing world-class wireless tests and security solutions. He’s the author of three best-selling security books and he is often seen on a ABC News, Bloomberg TV, Al Jazeera America, CBS’ Morning News, CNN and Fox Business and many others. So let’s go ahead and jump right into my interview with Scott Schober.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (01:29):

Yeah, absolutely. My name is Scott Schober. I’m the president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems. We’re a 50 year old privately held company, also author and a cybersecurity expert.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:40):

One of the questions that you actually submitted when we were preparing for this is why cybersecurity is everybody’s business. So why is it everybody’s business?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (01:52):

Wow. I think back to a number of years ago and usually kind of you draw a line in the sand, one thing that stands out to me was 2013 Target breach. We were one of the unfortunate victims, myself and my wife, that had our credit card compromised. Suddenly, I think everybody’s eyes opened up to cybersecurity data breaches, having our personal information compromised, credit card, so on and so forth. Certainly for myself, that’s a point where I always think about, “Man, this doesn’t just affect big companies, it affects you as a consumer, as a small business owner.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (02:26):

Shortly after that, I had the unfortunate problem whereas I educated people in the world of cybersecurity, I got a target on my back and they started going after me personally as well as my company. Despite the fact we sell security tools and cybersecurity offerings to keep people safe, we started to find out we were victims. It started out with credit card and debit card compromise. Our Twitter was hacked. Our website was taken down with repeated DDoS attacks where they flood your website with junk traffic.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (02:55):

Finally, we had $65,000 that were stolen out of our checking account and I realized, “Oh, we’re in trouble. We’ve been hacked and hacked again.” That led to eventually writing my first book and second book, which is Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business. That kind of brought us up to where we are today where it does affect all of our lives regardless of what we’re doing.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:16):

Well, it’s interesting how you describe just the fact that you’re providing value-add services to help others prevent this kind of cybersecurity and you end up being a victim of that yourself. So talk a little bit from small business perspective, our audience, primarily our small to mid size business owners and business leaders, and I’m sure they’re thinking, “Well, if Target can get hacked or this recent Facebook situation that happened with the data breach and such,” and having it impacted our business and many other clients I’m familiar with, how can a small business help reduce this or what do you see happening there?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (03:59):

Yeah, great question. This is some of the things I learned by mistake actually too. We had to change kind of the way we do business and a lot of it is security awareness. If you have everybody within your organization aware of what needs to be done and what not is not needed to be done, that helps greatly. It sounds too simple to be true, but it is really sometimes that simple. It’s not about just spending money to be more secure to fight off cyber criminals. I liken it this way, understanding and having layers in security, just like maybe we could liken it to our home or apartment, we don’t just have a little tumble lock on our door to keep it secure.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (04:39):

We have a deadbolt, we’ve got a camera, we’ve got an alarm system, we’ve got alarm stickers and so on and so forth. Why? Those layers of security deter a thief to move onto another block usually and it works. That’s why we try to all do it. Same thing with cybersecurity. It’s not just about having a strong password. Yeah, that’s important. It’s also about not reusing the same password across multiple login sites. That’s very important. It’s important that we also use multi-factor authentication, having, again, another layer that verifies and authenticates who we are when we’re logging into something.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (05:17):

Not putting too much out on social media, those type of things and all those different layers I talk about a lot in my book there, the second book, Cybersecurity Is Everybody’s Business because again, I’m talking to the small business owner. When we start to instill these basic I call them cybersecurity best practices in our business, and I say it’s from everybody, from the janitor to the CEO, needs to have this understanding and on board, then we’ll start to take steps to making secure layers and have a secure company.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (05:46):

It even comes down to physical things too. We sometimes just think cyber, it’s all ones and zeros in computers. No, not necessarily. Even things like shredding documents, that’s so important. Again and again, I find people don’t shred things properly. I share a short story. This was a couple years ago. I had a credit card, unfortunately it was expiring. So I got a new card issued and I just chopped it up in about three pieces and I tossed it in the garbage, not thinking anything about it. That was a Friday.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (06:13):

Come in Monday morning, our building manager comes to me and says, “Scott, you got to go outside and check this out.” Next to our garbage cans lined up on the curb was my credit card all re-pieced together. So somebody was obviously dumpster diving, going through the garbage, saw a credit card, re-pieced it together, probably took a picture of it to hopefully go online and go shopping or whatever.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (06:34):

Fortunately for me, the card was already expired, which was good, but it instantly kind of gave me a red flag. It scared me. First of all, who would go to that length to go through somebody’s garbage to see if there’s anything compromising. After that, I really did some research on shredders. In fact I did some reporting on it and other things. Getting a good crosscut micro strip shredder that obliterates things, 2,000 pieces of confetti, that’s the best way to go because it can’t be re-pieced. You could put in credit cards and old CDs and DVD, anything you want to destroy it completely obliterates it.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (07:07):

But something as simple as that within a company, we were not doing, and here we are a security company. I said, “What’s wrong with me?” So I went out and bought a number of these better quality shredders, and again, it’s not breaking the bank. We’re talking about $200 for a good quality micro crosscut shredder that lasts as opposed to the $30 one we may get at Office Depot or somewhere else. So that’s what I talk a lot about in the book is understanding security and taking things just to the next level and building those strong layers of security. It does wonders throughout an organization.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:41):

Very interesting. As you’re describing that, part of our audience that’ll tune in, they’re a franchisor where they have franchisees operating out there, or companies that maybe have multi-site locations. It’s one thing to do maybe when it’s close with you here or even this now hybrid work environment. Well, first talk a little bit about multi-site and then I’d love to come back to talking about this hybrid or remote working type situation.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (08:14):

Yeah. Maybe first to your point about multi-site or franchisee. It’s interesting. I was hired in the past, it was actually for Wolf and Sub-Zero. They did as they brought in all of their partners throughout the United States that resell their high-end appliances. Why? Because many of the appliances are connected now. We have smart homes, smart appliances that connect through the internet as well as IoT, Internet of Things, integration into them.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (08:40):

They wanted me to share with them some of the vulnerabilities that are inherent with smart appliances and smart homes, so in turn, their channel of resellers and distributors could then educate the consumers and share that knowledge so they understand when they plug into the internet what are some basic precautions and things they should put in place to make sure that their appliances are not compromised. I thought it was fascinating. It was wonderfully attended, it was well over 100 people.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (09:07):

They brought in two executive chefs that cooked for all of us. We had a great night talking. But it was great to hear from people in the field that are selling and helping customers and educating them from the cyber perspective. So to me, it’s extremely important to have the knowledge and share it with others so others can stay safe as you go down through the business chain. That’s very important. I think any business owners listening, it’s more than just you keeping your company safe. You want to also think about your vendors, your customers, the way you handle their private information and keep it safe, but also how they handle information about you.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (09:45):

Because the more we work together and keep information safe, it’s going to help the entire business community. I think that’s such a contrast, when I compare it to cyber criminals, it’s ironic. Cyber criminals are actually extremely generous with sharing tips how to hack into other companies. They have educational videos in the dark web. They have how-to. They have customer support. They have free tips. They have hardware and software they sell at very reduced costs if you want to buy ransomware, or ransomware as a service type business.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (10:16):

So there’s lots of things the cyber criminal world does to promote criminal activity. The problem is the good guys, all of us as business owners, we need to better share this information, public and private obviously. It can be challenging with government, but even as small business owners, the more we share, the safer our businesses can be and our customers.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:38):

That’s really interesting. I guess there’s a market for everything, right?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (10:41):

Oh yeah.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:41):

Even for the good and the bad. I would’ve never thought or imagined that would exist, but I mean I guess why not? From the sounds of it, very lucrative for them if something happens.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (10:55):

Oh yeah, and that’s a really good point there. If you just look at some of the statistics, go back about three, four years ago, just ransomware alone, that’s targeting a lot of small businesses. The average payout might be around $5,000 usually in Bitcoin, cryptocurrency. Just a couple years later, go back to 2021 and the average payout was well over $200,000. Now we’re starting to hear about larger payouts in the millions of dollars where they’re targeting hospitals and critical infrastructure like Colonial Pipeline and other things like that.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (11:27):

So the take is going up and up and up. What they’re actually taking from business owners and the government has gotten so high, it’s become a very lucrative profession. So I think all of us need to be on guard to keep our businesses safe. You also mentioned about I think remote work on kind of the first part of your question. I think there’s another area that if you look kind of post-pandemic, I kind of say that cause we’re coming out of the pandemic, although we’re seeing another surge perhaps, a lot of people are working remotely or maybe they’re doing it part-time a couple days in the office at the headquarters and they work remotely at home or whatever.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (12:04):

It’s really important that when you connect into your network at your company that you do some basic things to stay safe. Probably one of the most fundamental things that people do not do is utilize multi-factor authentication. A simple logging credentials with a name and password are not enough anymore. If you look at all the basic programs you look at even logging into something as simple as Facebook, they offer multi-factor authentication. Amazon, multi-factor authentication. Obviously, if our banks or maybe retirement or stock portfolios, we should be using multi-factor authentication.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (12:41):

Anything where there’s financial things tied in, but anything where you’re tying into your company remotely. If you go back into all the different breaches, what are you going to find? Most of the time where there were compromised credentials, somebody was able to get in, maybe it was third party access such as some of the stuff that happened with Target, they were not using multi-factor authentication. You look back at a couple years ago where it was Apple’s iCloud was hacked, they said, and again everybody that was compromised and there were celebrity nude photos, it was a big mess and scandalous thing. Every single account that was hacked into just used basic logging credentials, name and password.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (13:22):

Not one of them had multi-factor authentication, although it was available and free. So if we think about it from a business perspective, as business owners, make sure that you train all your employees if they’re logging on remotely into your company’s network, have it set up so you have multi-factor authentication. It’s one more layer to keep you safe.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (13:44):

The other thing is thinking about devices at home. A lot of times you hear about BOYD, bringing your own device into work, into the office. Maybe it’s your smartphone or computer tablet, whatever the case may be. That’s good as long as you follow the company’s policies and make sure that you’re adhering to them. But oftentimes now, overnight with the pandemic we had to work from home. Now we have our own devices at home that are connected into a wifi network perhaps, maybe our router as wifi. It ask yourself the question, is it secure? Do we have encryption set up at least WPA2 encryption? Is that set up?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (14:21):

Are we transmitting and telling all the neighbors or all the potential cyber thieves around us? Is this the Schober home as our SSID, the friendly identifier on our access point? Well, we don’t have to though. We could not transmit that and have a secure login. Those type of simple basic things when you’re setting up a remote office, they do wonders to keep the company ultimately safe.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:46):

That’s really in incredible to think about. It really makes me think too, when you were talking about that multi-factor and using that two-factor login, I know just from my own experience and just what I’ve heard from others as well is, let’s face it, when you’re busy person leading a company, it can become a pain in the neck to go ahead and go through all of that and multi-factor and all you’re trying to do is just check your bank account or all you’re trying to do is just log on to your shared drive through Google or Microsoft or what have you and you’ve got to do all this multi and it just slows you down. So I know there’s probably no quick way around that, but just curious your response to someone who might come back and say something like that.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (15:35):

Yeah, and you bring up a brilliant point. It is true. I try to reason this way. if you had to choose between convenience and security, I always opt for security. It’s not that convenient. It does take you a little bit longer. The analogy in the beginning when I was talking about getting into our homes, I’ll be honest, I got to worry about what? I got the cameras at the home. Oh, I got to unlock the door. I got to get the other key for the deadbolt. Got to shut the alarm off. That’s not real convenient when you got a dog barking and you’re carrying groceries, so on and so forth.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (16:06):

But guess what? It’s a lot more secure. So again, trying to balance that and not making it impossible because you don’t want to try to build Fort Knox or anything just to access your bank account, to your point. But having those additional layers and coming up with a system that works for you. What I do with a lot of times with multi-factor authentication, it allows you to choose what’s that additional factor that’s going to authenticate you as a valid user. So sometimes I’ll have it send a text to me, sometimes I’ll have it to an email. Sometimes it’s call a phone number or have them call you with a code that you then enter.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (16:39):

So mixing that up a little bit also adds yet even further security when you’re going through that. Again, it’s just trading time. But I tell you what, after being compromised and hacked, trying to get all the money back from our compromised credit card, debit card, the $65,000, became a federal investigation, which means what? Phone calls, emails, letters, paperwork, time, time, time to get your money back. I’d rather spend twice as long to log on to things and keep my data secure than to have to go through that ever again.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (17:10):

I try to just share that. Again, we’re small business, we’re a little under 30 people. Time is money. Part of the advantage of being a small business is you can work efficiently. You can do things quickly and respond to customers’ needs and demands much faster than a large company. But you don’t want to take shortcuts on the cybersecurity side of things because then you’ll pay dearly, and in many cases it could put you out of business if you’re not really careful.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:37):

Well, that’s a great point and a point well taken. You add a little bit more time now, or in a worst case scenario, you add a lot of time, a significant amount of hours that add into days and weeks that prolong plus the revenue or cash that may be taken from your account or credit card that, hopefully, in most cases you’d probably end up recovering, but who knows how long that takes based on investigations and so on.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (18:06):

Yeah, it does. I was thinking of an example. I was brought into a company that does insurance, they actually do reinsurance and there was about 100. I came in for the day to actually train them. It was interesting, they bought 100 copies of my book, had the employees read the book and then they could ask me questions. I presented to them and answered questions, got to sit down with them and they had prizes for whoever scored the best. But it was really a comprehensive day of training from a cybersecurity perspective.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (18:35):

I thought that was fascinating the way that they did it. In all the cases, everything that I shared with them for the most part did add some complexity and add some time to their daily routine. But it made the difference between be being insecure and being 100 times more secure and that’s the bottom line. So the company realized the importance, especially in that case, they had a lot of sensitive information, personal information for their customers, their clients that they had to keep protected in the particular business they were in and how imperative it is that they had the education.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (19:09):

It was interesting because they did the entire company, which I really appreciated. What I always speak about and encourage people, don’t just have your IT team educated or the guy that sets up the passwords on the computer. You have one person with all the knowledge. Well, what happens if they leave or retire or get fired or whatever? But if it’s throughout the company, everybody has an understanding of it, a reasonable understanding of cybersecurity and taking these best practices, these steps, it’ll make your entire organization safer and that’s really important.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:40):

Well, I appreciate that. Scott, this is a great time for us to make a transition at the show where we ask every guest the same four questions before they go. The first question we ask is, have you had a miss or two in your career and in your journey and something you learned from it?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (19:55):

Oh yeah, there’s a lot of them. Here’s one that kind of stands out to me. It’s kind of a weird embarrassing story but I’ll share it anyway. We had some clients, they were in the downstairs lab. Yeah, it was, I don’t know, half dozen or so and one of them had to go to the bathroom. They went in there, came out, clients left. I went in afterwards in the bathroom and I looked down on the floor and they urinated all over the place. They missed the urinal.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (20:21):

I was like, “Oh, this is disgusting. You got to clean up. Why are people so sloppy? It’s just disgusting.” Then later on that evening I started thinking, I said, “There’s got to be a way to help people to improve their aim.” This obviously is only toward males with urinals. Then I came up with an idea, “How do I gamify it or make it fun?” So I came up with this dumb idea, at least I thought at the time a dumb idea, and I called it a sharp shooter. It was a little thing, about the size of a hockey puck to put it in perspective.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (20:48):

It had a thing in the center that was a little thermistor tied to a piece of metal there and it was all sealed, the unit had LEDs in it. So we put that. We built a few of them as a gag. We put them in the urinals. The next time, this was maybe a couple months later, clients came in. Somebody went in there and we start hearing somebody laughing hysterically. They come out and they say, “That is the best thing in the world. I pee on it and the thing has lights and all the stuff going on and it was really funny. What is that? I want to get one of those.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (21:17):

So anyway, that somehow got out to the masses and I get a phone call not too long later from the president of the Bar Association and they were putting on a conference at the Jacob Javits Center and I guess they’re selling wine and specialty liquors and beer and so on and so forth. So he invited me, he says, “Can you send me a couple of those sharp shooter things? We really like the idea. We’re going to do an article about it and we’re going to give you a free booth at the Jacob Javits Center so you can come in and showcase this thing. If you want to sell it or do whatever you want, feel free.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (21:47):

So we’re like, “All right, why not?” We did it. It was hilarious. We had a fun time. We had water pistols and a simulated urinal that everybody could stand in line and shoot at this and that. Any event, we had fun, we did it. We got back to business as usual and got distracted. We made a bunch. We sold a bunch and we stopped there. I didn’t keep marketing it or selling it because I don’t know anything about that business really. But it was more of a joke.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (22:12):

Well, not too long later, and it was about two years later, I see somebody else that basically copied the exact same idea. They didn’t call it a sharp shooter, they called it something else shooter. They patented it and they were selling it and it looked almost the same as ours. I said, “Gee, somebody actually created an entire business and it looked very successful based upon an idea that obviously they saw at the show or whatever and realized that we were not smart enough to capitalize or take it the next step.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (22:41):

It kind of taught me a lesson. It’s not always having a great idea. I think this is important for small business owners to realize, you have to not just have a good idea that’s innovative, that’s maybe unique. Our business, we try to focus on niche technologies that are truly innovative. You have to also be able to produce it. You have to be able to make a profit on it. You have to sell it and market it properly. Unless you have all of those things aligned and you’re not serious about each stage of it, you’re probably not going to have success.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (23:12):

So just because people have these great ideas, I often hear people say, “You should patent that you, you’ll be a millionaire.” That’s not the way it works. You have to really work hard. In fact, you have to work even harder in my opinion when you do have a proven product, a proven idea because now you got to go convince other people, “Hey this is a great idea. Oh, and it’s worth this much money and you got to invest in it and buy it and so on and so forth.” So I think understanding products and business as a complete package, it’s helped educate me to do just a better job when we’re launching a product or thinking of an idea, whether it aligns with those different objectives or not before we invest too much time and money into it.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:52):

Oh, that’s a great example. It’s interesting, of all the episodes we’ve done, this might be the first where we’ve had someone what sounds to be a make that really turned into a miss, where it seemed like this big opportunity and it was a miss there. Well, let’s talk about the other side and let’s look at a make or two. You’ve shared some throughout the interview, but I’d love to hear if there’s anything else you’d like to share with us.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (24:19):

Yeah, here’s an interesting one that kind of stands out because this is more recent. This happened last year. We have a product. We call it the Wolfhound Pro. It’s basically a cellphone detector. We sell it to law enforcement and government institutions and things like that. It’s really for hunting down cellphones. Usually it’s in a space where you’re securing something like a government skiff where they house classified information.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (24:40):

Somebody, a bad guy, tries to come in, take a picture of something or record a conversation and you want to quickly find that phone, detect it, locate it and remove the threat. We’ve been selling hundreds of units for over 10 years. Great product. Interestingly enough though, I get a phone call, this was earlier last year, from somebody and this was coming through our French reseller because we have resellers and distributors around the globe. At the base of the French Alps, there was a terrible avalanche that happened.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (25:11):

There was a family at the base of this and the snow came down and the mother and the two kids managed to run away. The father didn’t make it and got trapped. Snow covered him. He was adjacent to a tree at the time. So the mother and the kids ran frantically to the village and get everybody outside. He’s buried somewhere. This huge avalanche came and they got about 140 people. They made a line, I guess that’s how they know how to do it and they take sticks and things and poke in the ground to try to see if they could find this guy. They walked through the whole length of the avalanche, no sign of him.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (25:43):

They couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t feel anything. Somebody had some rescue dogs that can sniff and have great scent. They brought them through, a whole line of them went through to see if they could find this trapped individual. No success. Someone else said, “Wait a minute. I got this tool from this company, Berkeley Varitronics, that’s called a Wolfhound Pro. It finds cellphones. The mom said that he had a cell phone on him, maybe we could find him.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (26:06):

So they took that out and started to walk behind all these other people that were at the other end and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom. They got a pickup on the screen and said, “Ooh, I see a strong signal.” They aim at the ground and narrow it down because it’s coupled with a direction finding antenna. We got a peak hold on there so you could see the signal intensity and said, “Sure enough, I got a signal over here guys, come on back, bring everybody back here. Start digging right here because there’s a cellphone under the ground.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (26:30):

They start digging in two and a half meters down was this individual trap and sure enough he had a cellphone on him. So our product which was really not designed to save somebody trapped in an avalanche was used in just a slightly different use case to actually locate somebody and save them. Which I thought was kind of amazing. From a business owner’s perspective, you obviously feel proud that you actually made a difference developing the tools and technologies, but using tools and technology for a good purpose at a crisis situation really can make a difference of life or death.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (27:06):

I brought that back to our team here in the company and said, “Guys, this isn’t just something that’s an idea in my head or an engineer’s head. This is all of our success because we all worked together toward getting us out the door and we should be proud of this because we made a difference.” I think that’s important when you could look at whatever you do, whatever your business is, realize that a lot of the stuff that small businesses are doing are making a difference. Maybe it’s saving a life, maybe it’s helping people stay healthier, whatever the case may be.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (27:34):

But try to find the good or the success in what you’re making or doing and share that back with your team, because I think what that does, it kind of helps the morale. It helps the understanding, it helps the cause. It also gives you forward thinking for future projects and things you’re doing. You ask yourself questions, “All right, how is this going to help make people safer, make people happier, make people feel better about themselves?” Whatever the case you’re doing, that to me kind of gets me excited. So that’s kind of a positive story that resulted from that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:09):

Yeah, that sounds amazing. How about this idea of a multiplier? Is there a multiplier or two that you’ve used that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (28:19):

Yeah, I’ve got some interesting ones. I’ll give you one multiplier from a growth perspective I use often. People will say, “How did you price this product?” Over the years of doing this long enough, what I do is calculate everything, the cost of something, and say it’s $50, then I say the sell price should be $100. I double it. It’s probably the simplest formula in the world from a multiplier standpoint. But if you apply that to your business and we have a diverse product line, maybe 50 plus products, that allows us to continually, steadily grow our profitability as a company.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (28:55):

Obviously, I’m factoring in labor, the cost of parts going up and all the changes in dynamics in the industry. That allows me to come out with a number at the end and then my multiplier is double that number. Every time I’ve done that, we’ve been profitable. When I try to listen too much to what other people say that the price should be and they try to drive you down to be more competitive or whatever else, it’s a failure. There’s not enough profit left there. There’s not enough meat on the bone as they say to be a profitable company. It’s allowed me also to steer our designs and products away from what everyone else does.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (29:33):

What do I mean by that is I need to carefully analyze the market ahead of time before we invest dollars and talent into designing and building something. So our widget, our product at the end has to be unique and differentiated enough from any competitive offerings out there so it allows us to command whatever price it is. If we can’t do that, from my perspective, it’s not worth our company investing in that. That’s a formula that works for us. I can’t say it’s the best solution, but it allows us to have steady growth over the years and keep our company kind of small and manageable. We don’t have to go out and borrow money from a bank ever in the 50 years we’ve been in business.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (30:17):

We invest the money that we make as profit back into the business, into the employees, into the infrastructure, and that helps you grow. Slow and steady is a lot better than businesses, at least that I’ve dealt with that do this logarithmic growth overnight. They go from 10 employees to 1,200 employees. Three years later, they’re sold and half the staff is out of a job and half are relocated and become a public company and lost in the numbers. For me, that’s not something I can get excited about and invest in, but I can invest right here and I can control my own company and the employees and what we build to do better and to be profitable in the process.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:56):

Yeah. Well, and Scott, the final question we like to ask every guest is what does success mean to you?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (31:03):

I think success is, for me, following something from start to finish. I have a lots of ideas, employees here, engineers and customers bring ideas to us all the time. If I get one idea that comes to fruition out of maybe 10 ideas, that’s definitely success. So what I’m saying is part of success is learning through your failures. Those nine failures made that one success so much more successful. It turned into a product line, it turned into something very profitable that you call your bread and butter that each and every day you build.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (31:41):

A short example, a number of years ago we were asked to come out to California. LA Metro designed a simple little black box that could determine if the operator of a train was texting or making a phone call, taking his eyes off the track and getting distracted where a train could possibly flip, people die, so on and so forth. We tried for a couple years, demonstrate, approve the technology, but it just wasn’t there. Most people would say it was a failure. We didn’t give up. We spent another couple years well, ironically, a large locomotive manufacturer, in fact one of the largest in the United States approached us, said, “We heard you guys were developing technology, we want to pilot it.” Okay, we tried, took two more years and suddenly they bought 50 units. Said, “This is really good. We want to start buying these.”

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (32:30):

Well, fast forward the story a couple years later to where we are today, we’re on now over 25,000 locomotives throughout the United States and heavy machinery and now we’re selling to locomotives outside of the country. So kind of a crazy idea that failed and most people would’ve given up. I said, “I’m not going to give up, we’re going to keep at it. Keep trying, try different things, techniques, designs, to prove to ourselves we can do it.” Eventually we got it and now we look back and we see the success. So never giving up I think is a real important quality if you feel there’s something there but you don’t know until you try it. So you have to invest time and money into things like that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:08):

Yeah. Well, and Scott, before we go, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (33:17):

Well, I think I’d just always like to encourage people because I present a lot to different audiences and I enjoy that because I get to hear from other business owners, right? I present at colleges, so I’m hearing from students that are learning about different things. I think I always believed in, and this is coming from years back, even from my father, just because somebody says you can’t do something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Maybe you could do it. If you believe in it, you could find a way. I think that’s the important thing from running a company, I try to find another way to solve the problem, another way to design something, another way to achieve a goal.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (33:53):

It’s amazing if you believe in an idea enough, you’ll start to attract other employees that believe in the same idea. They believe in the innovation, they believe in the company and they will find a way in working with you. So you’re not doing it alone. You have to empower those that work with you as a team and then you can accomplish anything. Really, this could apply to any business out there. That’s the beauty of it. So I think it’s building a good, solid, strong team that you trust and they trust you. You can accomplish just about anything.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:24):

By the way, before we go, how can someone track down more resources from you, if they’re interested in contacting you, getting a copy of your book, what’s the best place to do that?

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems (34:32):

Yeah, certainly. Any of my books, I have three books, working on book number four right now. Go to Amazon, you can type in my name Scott Schober there or Hacked Again, Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business or Seniors Cyber is the third book that was just released. Go to my company’s website. It’s simply or my personal website is my name, Feel free. There’s a lot of resources there, videos, podcasts, e-papers that are free, tips that you could download, all of that there that you’re welcome to have. Or shoot me a comment. I usually respond within about a week to anybody that will email me through those websites and answer any questions that you might have about cybersecurity, wireless threats, whatever it is.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:15):

Scott, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. Let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when he described a simple and easy way to protect your business, and that’s by creating security layers. He gave some really simple things such as using different passwords, not putting a bunch out on social media, shredding documents, investing in just a better quality shredder that might cost a couple hundred dollars and really shredding things like credit card applications or other sensitive information like that. He said, making sure, one other key piece is that making sure your people in your company are aware of ways in which data breaches or these kinds of security things can happen.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:05):

Takeaway number two was I think one of the most simple and effective ways that Scott had mentioned to provide cybersecurity or securing some of your digital data, and that’s by having and using multi-factor logins. So he said you might spend a little more time logging in by having two-factor and using that, however, it’s going to save you a significant amount of time should in the event you end up with some kind of cyber criminal activity that occurs at your business. So I thought that was a great takeaway and he described his own personal example of when that happened, the hours and hours and hours he had to spend looking, searching, hiring companies and lost revenue and income and things that happened from that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:58):

Takeaway number three, I loved when he said it was a lesson that he learned when one of his products was used to save someone that was buried in an avalanche and it saved their life. His product was not intended for such a use. I think the lesson that he talked about is that you never know how what you create might be used to help someone and hopefully to be able to help them for the good and realize that the things you’re doing in your business is making a difference every day. Recognize that. I thought that was just a nice warm, fuzzy takeaway for the episode.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (37:39):

Now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win came from when he talked about his success and what success means to him. He said, “Success is learning through failures.” I love the way that he described that, very simple, and just to keep trying. Isn’t that true? We tend to learn the most when we don’t achieve the goal or get what we were seeking out of whatever effort we were putting in. He gave that great example of how he created a safety tool for locomotive engineers and it took many, many years, many tries, many potential efforts added and eventually he got it.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (38:25):

So that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. Remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise your business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to having you back next week.

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