B-Safe, now and again

Matrix remnant continues, and makes some buys of its own
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

WILMINGTON, Del.--Philip Gardner started B-Safe Security when he was in high school, in 1978. Now, 30 years later, he’s running it again, having kept the B-Safe assets when he, John Colehower, Joe Gallagher and Todd Herman sold Matrix Security to ASG in November of last year.

Gardner had rolled B-Safe into Matrix back in 2005, “but we ended up selling the company,” he said, “and I wasn’t ready to get out of the industry.” So Gardner took B-Safe back. “Matrix had 11 offices,” he explained, “and B-Safe was one of them. I didn’t have to change anything. Now I’m running one office instead of 11.”

Originally a residentially-focused company, B-Safe now does 80 percent of its revenue in the commercial market, Gardner said, and about 60 percent of that is fire systems. Now that the company is independent again, Gardner said he’s looking to leverage his central station and has bought the accounts of Star Security, of Millsboro, Del., along with the residential and commercial accounts of TRS Security, based in Newark, Del., in separate deals.

However, don’t look for B-Safe to get too big, Gardner said. “We’re looking to stay in our marketplace,” he said, “which is about 90 miles around Wilmington. We’re probably not going to step out of that footprint.” That’s partly because Gardner is taking it easier: “When I was with Matrix, I was always traveling, two, three times a month. Now it’s a 15-minute commute for me and I’m sort of enjoying it.”

Plus, “Now I’ve got an opportunity to start this fresh and take a look at the way we were doing things and do them in a different way.”