Carter Bros. buys Edwards from GE

Deal creates powerful national security, fire combination
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Sunday, April 1, 2007

ATLANTA--"We truly believe that we found the diamond in the rough," said John Carter, president and chief executive of systems integrator Carter Brothers. "It was a business that was just sitting there. You'd look over there and see something gleaming and think, 'What the heck is that?'" The diamond he referred to is Edwards Service, which Carter Brothers acquired from GE Security on March 8 for an undisclosed sum.
With the buy, the privately held Carter, in 26 states already, picked up depth in 10 of them, with newly added offices, 150 employees, and a new presence in Detroit. It also, according to John Carter, added a number of NICET-certified engineers and "one of the most experienced fire companies in the country right now."
"I'm as excited about this deal as any deal I've ever done," said Carter, who came into security from the construction industry in 1999 and owns the company with his brother Cris Carter, a former NFL star (one of the five best receivers in history, statistically) and current NFL commentator for HBO. "My brother may have never won a Super Bowl," he said with a bit of a laugh, "but I think we've got a real winner here."
Carter Brothers has been a strategic partner with ADT since 2001, "managing a larger portion of their commercial installation," said John Carter, beginning as a project management company and then becoming a full-service integrator operating only in the commercial space. Carter said the company had a significant fire business in place already, but that Edwards presents "a huge opportunity," as it specializes in fire, which is a regulated necessity, and "you can piggy-back along with the fire business."
Brad Williams, vice president of Edwards Service, will continue to run the Edwards portion of Carter Brothers going forward. He agreed that a fire business can grow parallel security work. "I think the fire industry has shown steady growth, but there are higher barriers to entry ... Fire is what we do very well today."
Carter said he'd been building the architecture for just such an integration for more than a year and that he was helped by his associations with ADT and GE Security, with whom Carter Brothers will go forward as a Strategic Partner. "Working with the likes of a John Koch [president of ADT] and Louis Parker [president of GE Security] gave me the ability to really look at it from a much bigger picture."