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CEO tells students to take charge, be aware

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For Hitron President and CEO George Hage, life isn’t about age -- rather it is how one feels about life.

Hage, who just marked his 50th birthday, has led his company to become the largest closed-circuit television business in the world, controlling 70 percent of the market for the products they produce in the security system industry. He spoke to the students at California State University, San Marcos, last Wednesday about his success.

Hitron just signed a contract with Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) that will increase the company’s exposure. Its worked with Wal-Mart before, but Hage said it ended its contract 10 years ago because Hitron wouldn’t lower its price.

“In security, the most important thing is quality, not the price,” Hage said.

Wal-Mart went to other manufacturers for the product, but eventually re-negotiated with Hitron, and will hold a price point that handles the returns, Hage said.

The store passes the cost of returns to the manufacturer and returns often are theft -- an item is purchased, removed from the box and then the box is returned to the store.

“At the end of the day, it is the consumer who pays for it,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is part of doing business.”

Hitron will be placing kiosks in stores with the security systems. If a customer has a question, they can push a button on a touch screen, and they will be able to speak to a customer service representative via video feed.

His advice to students was simple -- take charge and be aware. A Lebanese immigrant, Hage commended American TV.

“If you want to learn everything that’s going on, just watch the news,” he said. “You don’t have to go get newspapers and books -- you can just turn it on.”

Part of the enjoyment of watching the news for Hage is feeling like his cameras were in some way featured. Hitron’s customer list includes Shell, Valero (NYSE: VLO), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Sony (NYSE: SNE). The cameras are used to detect crime and observe employees, and can serve as evidence in lawsuits.

Staying informed makes one a better businessperson, Hage told the students. He hires experienced and wise people so he is surrounded with knowledge.

“If you have the right people, no one can compete with you,” he said.

Hage credits his marriage for much of his success, and said he puts his personal life as a top priority. He has been married for 24 years and has three children.

“My wife is truly wonderful -- she’s challenging, I have to tell you that,” he said, noting that the best thing one can do for a relationship is to diffuse conflict and worry. “The last thing we need is for others to create sensitivity in our family."

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Online Videos

* George Hage's class discussion

* Interview with George Hage

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