Profile of Paul Dards
I have been involved with computers for over 35 years, working with both hardware and software. I designed, built and installed systems in my own businesses which extended from retail to international distribution, and also wrote the software to run those companies.
Now semi-retired I am keen to share that experience and knowledge with other people. I can provide affordable computer support for you and am pleased to discuss your needs without using techno babel.
Slow computers are so common, and are a real bottleneck for efficiency. Often a low cost service and adjustment will radically improve performance. If hardware is required, I will provide a free estimate.
Network efficiency is often overlooked, and security continues to be a real issue; I can give you the advice and support you need.
Born in North London in 1951, parents both graphic designers, my father Peter Dards a director of an animated film company based in Elstree.
I was privately educated at Mill Hill School in London and then St Columba’s College in St. Albans. From an early age I was interested in electronics and in 1963 at the age of 12 I started Dards Electronics. My teens benefited greatly from the income that my small business generated.
After completing ‘A’ levels, at the age of 17, I decided to spend a year with Voluntary Service Overseas teaching, to O level standard, Zulus in Swaziland, Southern Africa. Within a few weeks of arriving in Mbabane I had established a business relationship with the highest tech organisation in the area – a local Chemist shop – and so Dards Electronics began trading in Africa. The revenue generated greatly surpassed the small income that a volunteer received to live on.
When I returned to the UK to study Applied Physics at Hendon Technical College my business flourished, I recruited staff from my fellow students at college and things moved forward; early projects included the design, manufacture and installation of an automated control system for the mixing of solvents for a chemical factory in Park Royal, London.
In the early seventies my business moved into the world of In Car Entertainment – my firm specialised in the sales, repair and maintenance of car audio equipment, and over the next 20 years became one of the most successful in the country. With retail outlets in Luton and Milton Keynes, and a trade repair business with other specialists throughout the South of England.
Key elements to the growth was top quality service with a 24 hour turn-around on the 400-600 repairs a week. In 1985 I started Dardsoft, a computer software division that produced a 4GL called ‘The Colonel’ running on a Pick platform, this enabled me to fully computerise my electronics business with software that did exactly what I wanted as I was involved with writing the code. Variants on this software is still in use today ported to the windows environment.
However in 1992 disaster struck, despite conventional security measures, the business was burgled a total of seven times in eight months. I knew I had to find a solution or throw away 25 years of hard work.
And so Smokecloak was born, no thought of a commercial opportunity – this was survival. The concept of artificial fog was initiated by memories of London fogs and the message from the police that it was not possible to stop a determined thief – only slow him down, what could be a better way than a really thick artificial fog?
The first prototype was produced in late 1992, and deployed in the business, neighbours and staff all believed that the stress of the attacks had caused me to become crazy, the proof of this was the clouds of smoke emanating from my buildings at regular intervals as I tested/demonstrated my “baby”. What was even more astonishing was that the burglaries stopped – never to be repeated. The ‘fog’ was so thick that visibility was reduced to less than arms length in a matter of seconds. The jungle telegraph had worked Dards Electronics had become a “no go” area for the villain!
Following the advice of one of my friends, a patent was explored and four gained.
The Smokecloak product was launched in 1993 marketed by a new company Smokecloak Ltd, with me as MD. It produced an amazing media reaction – newspapers, radio and TV all featured this eccentric new idea. Unfortunately there was also a negative side to the reaction – concerns by the Police and Insurance industry were a real problem and slowed the acceptance of the concept.
It has taken a huge amount of determination, work, travel and marketing to take the product to where it is today – sold in over 50 countries.
Protecting all types of environments from banks to military stores, police stations to schools, shops to offices, houses to castles, and the first electronic security device to obtain police approval. Now specified by insurance companies and safely preventing millions of pounds of losses every day with virtually a 100% success record.
The car audio business was sold in 1995 to focus totally on Smokecloak.
In December 2001 the Smokecloak organisation was purchased by the Martin Group of Denmark bringing a new level of expertise to the business that was changing the face of security on a global basis. I continued as MD of the successful UK division. During 2004 I became increasingly concerned about the increase in availability of unregulated copy equipment and felt an international standard was required. I contacted, our trade association, the British Security Industry Association who in turn approached CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation, with a request that the committee would consider the development of a new standard.
CENELEC was set up under Belgian law and is composed of the National Electrotechnical Committees of 28 European countries. In addition, eight National Committees from Eastern Europe and the Balkans are participating in CENELEC work with an Affiliate status.
In May 2005 I undertook a presentation to the international CENELEC TC79 committee in Stockholm to substantiate the need for a workgroup to be formed to establish the requirements for “Security fog devices”. The committee decided that a working group should be formed, WG10, with the task of developing a new section of EN50131, the title “Alarm systems – Intrusion and hold-up systems – part 8: Security fog devices”, I was very pleased to be nominated as the convenor.
Invites were circulated to the international committee and a number of experts came forward to be approved by their country’s CENELEC division to join WG10. Over the next four years I chaired many international meetings, and in May 2009 the standard was finally approved and later that year became a British Standard.
During 2008 the Martin Security Smoke company was purchased by a group of Danish entrepreneurs and now the company trades as MSS Professional Ltd.
Towards the end of 2009 I left MSS Professional and now I run a small computer business called PDC, specialising in resolving slow computers, caused by just normal usage, or more commonly viruses or malware. I also rebuild faulty laptops and offer them with a warranty for purchase. I am really pleased to supply help to local people with computer problems.
Recently I was invited by the the new owners of Smokecloak UK to act for them as a senior consultant, which I was very pleased to accept.