The big question of a Pro One sale becomes a reality

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, February 1, 2003

TOPEKA, Kan. - Word that Protection One’s parent company, Westar Energy, plans to sell its stake in the alarm monitoring company may come as little surprise to those in the security industry.

For years, people often wondered how Protection One, which has struggled financially, would dig itself out of trouble. While company officials have worked diligently these past few years to cut operating expenses - it was one of the first companies to eliminate its authorized dealer program - and improve its attrition rate, one question remained – would Protection One be sold?

“The industry has been waiting for this for a long time,” said Joe Freeman, principal at J. P. Freeman Co. “The only other thing is how Protection One can be packaged up and who would be interested in buying them.”

Compared with the other national alarm companies, particularly those active in mass marketing, Freeman said, the Protection One brand name is not as strong, due to service problems and a lack of cash to sink into expensive television advertising.

“When you are in the mass market, you definitely need a strong brand name,” Freeman said.

In recent years, Protection One has reshaped its business. Changes included closing down its Hagerstown central station in early 2001, selling its European and Canadian operations and divesting of its stake in a marketing called Paradigm Direct LLC, a program set up to bring Protection One economical customer leads.

Along with the company’s operations alerting, so to has management. Richard Ginsburg, the company’s current chief executive officer, is among a long line of chief executives brought in to reshape the company. He was preceded by Annette Beck, a Western Resources executive who took over the reigns after the company’s four original founders left.