Onne Leroy Heeren Jr. 1943 – 2024

Onne L. Heeren, Jr., founder of Custom Security Systems, Inc., passed away on June 27, 2024, in Baton Rouge. He was 81.

Born on January 15, 1943, in Delray Beach, Florida, Onne didn’t always work in the security industry. After serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War, he worked at Exxon Plastics as an instrument technician for ten years, and taught night classes in this subject at ITI Technical College. His interest in the alarm business was sparked after spotting a magazine ad for alarm industry seminars. Shortly after completing those seminars in Las Vegas, Onne came back to Louisiana and took the leap to start his own business, Custom Security Systems, in the utility room of his home. Soon, the growth of the business warranted expansion to a separate office in the backyard, then to an office off-site, and finally to its current location in 1992.

One of the traits that made him successful was his eagerness to learn new things, especially in technical fields, which made the security industry a perfect fit. Onne believed in hard work, and in seeking out resources to better himself and become more knowledgeable. He was equally committed to passing this knowledge on to his employees, with the expectation that it would make them better able to service their customers. But Custom employees were not just schooled on the basic alarm. Onne believed in teaching life skills not only to represent his company well, but to truly give employees all the tools they needed to succeed in their lives both in and out of the office.

As much as he enjoyed the technical side of the business, it was his innovative business ideas that truly set him apart. Onne recognized the value of marketing and used clever direct mail campaigns, original sales presentations, and was the first in the market to embrace local TV advertising. He restructured the traditional security sales model to make alarm systems affordable for his customers. And, as is true of all successful businesspeople, he believed that taking care of customers was paramount and his expectations for his employees were unwavering in this respect.

His community presence was also felt by providing a voice for homeowners regarding false alarm ordinances that placed undue burden on them and in being an avid supporter of local law enforcement. Onne appreciated the work of first responders and dispatchers and was a consistent contributor for needed supplies, including canine units, as well as hosting appreciation dinners over the years.

Although he stepped away from the day-to-day operation of the business nearly a decade ago, his legacy has been and continues to be felt in the principles he established regarding customer care and service excellence. He passed these on to his two daughters, Jeanine Heeren Anderson and Brittany Heeren Relle, and long-term right-hand man and president of the company, Ronnie Whiddon, entrusting them to lead the company into its next era of success.

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