Castello takes knowledge of big business to PM Alarms

Thursday, March 16, 2006

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--After working for a large security company, Steve Castello went back to local business, with a team of seasoned players. In less than two years, he's bought two alarm companies located on the same road.
Castello bought Hamilton Alarm, a full-service alarm company, a year-and one-half ago. Its neighbor, PM Alarm, a similar business with a larger account base, had a central station and monitored Hamilton's accounts. Thanks to the purchase for an undisclosed amount in early 2006, the companies are now under one roof and the monitoring station remains local. The merge created PM Alarm LLC. The company has 2,000 accounts and a reach spanning Tennessee and parts of Georgia.
The idea of being local and accessible to the customer appealed to Castello, who was a former vice president and general manager of the Chattanooga, Tenn., Sonitrol branch. It's now a national company, but at the time it was independently owned.
"I can't tell you when somebody local in this area has bought an alarm company. It has always been someone big. Always someone out of town, and the first thing they do is close the local monitoring stations and move them out of state," he said.
Castello wanted a change of pace, and wanted to see more local activity for large-scale applications. Castello used his past experience of organizing large commercial applications at Sonitrol to nudge his new company into the commercial market, a market the former companies did not target.
Already, the company has experienced growth. "In three months, we have done about 23 large commercial applications. Incorporating that market into this kind of company makes us one of those companies that can do everything," he said.
Not only is there a steady increase on the installation side, the company's monitoring account activity has increased seven percent from December 2005 to January and sales are up about 30 percent for that same time period.
"We just spent about $20,000 on computer software at the monitoring station and equipment for back-up sources to get the central station to what I call up-to-par," Castello said. The upgrade will be able to accommodate what the central plans to handle in the future.
Castello is confident the company will boom as time goes on. Internally, he organized a team of veteran sales, installation and central station employees who provide local service. "But I only see it getting better when it comes to putting the right people in the right position."