The Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award: Steven Coppola, President And Founder, APB Security Systems Inc., Meiers Corners
Steven Coppola

Steven Coppola
Steven Coppola is an emotional man.

It seems odd that a man who served as a former city police officer -- often considered tough when it comes to crime -- would get teary-eyed at the drop of a hat, but that's exactly what happened to Coppola recently.

"Only when it comes to family matters," said the 52-year-old Coppola. "Otherwise I don't try to . . . . What? Police officers aren't emotional? Actually, you know what? I am emotional, but you just happened to hit a couple of triggers. You just happened to mention a couple of things that really got to me. But, usually I don't walk around teary-eyed."

That might be a good thing. For in Coppola's line of work no one wants to think he's soft on the bad guys -- which he isn't.

Coppola is the head of APB Security Systems, located at 2047 Victory Blvd. in Meiers Corners.

For the past 28 years, Coppola has made it his company's goal to sell, install and service top-notch alarm systems for homes and businesses.

APB Security Systems has burglar alarms, card-access entry systems, surveillance cameras, telephone systems, intercom systems, computer-network wiring and more.

Coppola considers his business a one-stop shopping place for consumers seeking to secure their businesses or their homes. His business is a conglomerate of numerous security companies, each initially providing just one aspect of safety services.


This conglomeration of companies includes Statewide Fire Corp., which provides sales, installations, service and monitoring of fire alarms for a full range of commercial applications, and Statewide Monitoring Corp., a UL (un- derwriters laboratories)-approved central-station monitoring facility, of which Coppola is president, that keeps tabs on all types of potential emergency conditions.

Coppola said the combination is unusual because safety companies usually provide only one aspect of the safety service.

"We would always have to allow another firm to do part of what we can't do and we would have to allow other firms to have footholds (in the business). Now we can provide fire alarms and cameras and card access to people. It's like one-stop shopping. They like it because we can provide all things and because we all got together to help one another out. In a way, you can not beat the expertise and personnel we have," said Coppola.

But it wasn't always so efficient. Coppola recalls the earlier technology of safety services as much different than it is now.

"It was very simple back then," he said. "Everything was connected to a couple of wires and screws . . . we would use foil on the windows and it was very obvious to both the homeowner and the burglar," he said.

Now, Coppola said the industry's advanced technology includes audio detectors, radio detectors, as well as wireless systems that use transmitters to send signals back to the control panel, as well as to the central station, which will alert police and fire departments of an emergency.

Coppola said 95 percent of his 4,000 clients are Island-based. The other five percent are in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey. Some of his more recognizable clients or projects include the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, the city Board of Education, Matthew Funeral Home, Project Hospitality, YMCA, Alice Austen House and numerous Island churches.

Coppola said he believes it's his company's work ethic that keeps customers coming back.

"Integrity, what we promise we deliver and if we make a mistake, we correct it," he said. "We truly care about protecting the people. It's not just putting another account on line, it's protecting another family."

When Coppola is not thinking about how to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, he starts thinking about the things that get him teary-eyed -- usually his dad.

"That can trigger it in a second," he admitted.

His late father, Steven Coppola Sr., was a former city police officer and a jack-of-all trades. He taught Coppola everything from electrical to plumbing work, to welding to alarm systems.

Coppola Sr., passed away in 1995, after battling cancer.

"As a person, I pride myself on being able to solve problems," admitted Coppola, "And this was unsolvable," he said in terms of coming to grips with his father's cancer.


Although they were father and son, Coppola admits that the two were more like best friends.

"We never fought, we never even had an argument. We became friends when I hit age 16. We had mutual respect for each other. He knew how much I admired him and he admired me also," he said.

It was this relationship that led Coppola to become a police officer, spending two years working out of Bedford-Stuyvesant's 79th Precinct until the city fell on tough times.

"My wife and I had just bought a house. She was a nurse and she was six months pregnant. And, all of sudden I get notified that I was getting laid off. They laid off 3,000 cops," he said.

Ultimately, Coppola decided to move to Florida and become a deputy sheriff. There, he said, life was interesting.

"I went from being in a police car in Bed-Stuy to tracking down alligators in Florida. It was a unique and memorable experience," said Coppola.

In 1977, the city ended the layoffs and he came back to work, but something had changed for him.

"I no longer wanted to work for the city. I wanted to control my own destiny," he said.

That's when he started APB, and after five years of moonlighting, he said he finally had enough customers to quit the police force.

Now Coppola spends his days working with his son Steven Coppola, Jr., vice president of APB, while his daughter, Pamela Coppola is president of Statewide Fire Corp. The CEO of Statewide is Kenneth Gould and Edward Keshecki is a fire systems specialist.

"I like having my kids here. It's like passing on the family tradition," he said.


Coppola said he also enjoys giving back to the Island community, either by volunteering or financially supporting various programs and groups such as the Boy Scouts, Meals on Wheels and the Alzheimer's Association of Staten Island. Coppola grew up in Brooklyn, with three brothers and one sister -- an experience he treasures.

"I had a great childhood. I grew up in a neighborhood with 25 boys and three girls. Everything was sports and one of the three girls was my sister," he said.

He is married to the former Judy Reinertsen. Even down to the date and time, July 7, 1970 at 7 p.m., Coppola tells an interesting story about meeting her. At the time, he and a friend were driving along 65th Street in Brooklyn, "And I saw my wife and her girlfriend. My wife had on blue coolots. I bet my friend driving the car that I could pick her up. She was going into Carvel."

Coppola said his friend took forever to make a U-turn, but he finally met up with her and was able to get her first name and the street she lived on. The next day Coppola went to the street.

"I was asking any guys if they knew a blonde named Judy and sure enough one of them did and that was it from there," he said. "It was for me. I don't know about her, but it was for me."

"It was the best decision I ever made in my entire life ... the number one decision I ever made. We are happy to have found each other."

The couple, now married 30 years, live in New Springville. Coppola also has another daughter, Lisa Maher, who will give birth to his first grandchild in April.

Kiawana Rich is a reporter at the Advance. She can be reached by e-mail at

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