Alarm Monitoring Services gets a fresh start

Saturday, July 1, 2006

METAIRIE, La.--After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast region, Alarm Monitoring Services, with a central here and in Monroe, La., was forced to start anew, by rebuilding its Metairie facility, updating services and completing an automation project, enabling redundancy between the centrals.
The project was led by Rick Jolet, who joined the company as chief executive officer in May after spending years in the network technology industry, and is being mapped out with assistance from its automation provider, DICE, of Bay City, Mich.
As of press time, Jolet said the plan to tie the two centrals together is still in a draft stage, but added that the design of the network of the two locations will include a data and voice system, with the ability for the two centrals to communicate seamlessly back and forth to back each other up, as well as function as separate centrals.
Jolet's technology background will be useful to keep the company's centrals in line with the latest technologies, said President Dera Deroche-Jolet.
"We have some technicians who are having a difficult time setting up the computer systems for CCTV," Deroche-Jolet said. "He brings that seam for us."
The week the storm hit, AMS acquired the Monroe facility to use as a back-up central in case the company had to evacuate, which it did after being hit with category four winds and rain.
AMS will break ground rebuilding the Metairie site this summer, but plans to wait until this year's hurricane season is over to begin construction. AMS hopes to have the building ready for the start of next year, but this will depend, Jolet said, on how quickly construction can get started. "The biggest problem in our area is that there are not enough people to get the job done quickly," Deroche-Jolet added.
After the storm, AMS turned over nearly its entire company, because people lost their homes, relocated and never came back, she said. However, in Monroe, a Chase Manhattan data center recently closed, leaving customer service representatives unemployed. AMS quickly filled operator positions. "I guess with everything bad that happened comes some really good stuff," Deroche-Jolet said.
Improvements will be made to both locations. "We have learned a lot through the hurricane," Jolet said. "We will have a different arrangement bringing in telephone lines. We will have everything that we are going to need to be the most current central station going."
Included in the upgrade will be a training facility to provide a space for its staff and 300 dealers to convene to attend technology and product seminars. "We are going though our facility looking at what we have and saying, 'You know, I can make this bigger or this can go on the third floor, this can go on the second floor.' We are actually doing a better build out, giving ourselves more room for growth," Deroche-Jolet said.