Central emerges from bankrupt parent

Sunday, December 1, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An interactive central station here has emerged as a new company after it was bought by a group of investors while its former parent company works its way through Chapter 11 reorganization.

Interactive Security Corp., which began operating under its new name in late summer, now monitors about 500 accounts, a portion of which it has been signing on over the past few months, said Gerald Hotopp, president and general manager of ISC.

Some of the company's clients include Duke Energy, Crown Central Petroleum and Whitehall Jewelers, Hotopp said. The bulk of the accounts stem from the business of ISC's former parent, Fullerton, Calif-based Intellisec, a systems integrator which in April filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

ISC, which is the only operating unit of its parent, Interactive Business Solutions Inc., employs 21 people at its central monitoring station here. Eleven of those employees form the monitoring team, 95 percent of which have law enforcement backgrounds, Hotopp said.

Although the central station has been up and running for the past four years in its 6,000-square-foot location here, ISC has big plans for its first year of operations under new ownership, including doubling the company's monthly recurring revenue as well as its annual revenue. The company is also pursuing its Underwriter's Laboratories listing, which it expects to garner in the second quarter of 2003, despite the fact that UL has no provisions for interactive monitoring operations like ISC, Hotopp said. The facility was built to UL specifications, he said.

Having employees with a law enforcement background is indispensable when making a determination of how to intervene in a situation and whether to dispatch authorities, Hotopp said.

"We do a video surveillance of the property and make a determination based on what we see and what we hear before we will invalidate an alarm," Hotopp said. These positions garner higher salaries than industry averages, which helps to keep dispatcher attrition at a level close to zero, he said. Hotopp, formerly vice president of Intellisec's interactive region, was chief of police of two different police departments and has a 30-year career in law enforcement.

The central station's employees undergo an extensive training process, which includes an initial period of 90 days; before that process begins, employees sign a letter of understanding about the conditions of employment.

"During that period we assess their ability to handle various situations as intervention specialists, "Hotopp said. After that, the next nine months consist of on the job training, he said.

The company has already joined associations such as the Central Station Alarm Association, the American Society of Industrial Security, as well as groups that represent building owner and manager community to get its message out. The company's website, www.interactivemonitoring.com, also serves as a sales tool to reach many vertical markets, he said.

"We are looking into a wide, wide market where we can adapt our technology to schools, child care centers, senior citizen homes, the hospitality and hospital markets," Hotopp said.