The Chicago security playing field

Sunday, January 1, 2006

CHICAGO--As Guardian Protection Services prepared for its entree into the Windy City with its recent acquisition of Certified Security, Guardian president Russ Cersosimo predicted the company would have a "field day in Chicago."
Due to consolidation of companies under ADT's umbrella, Cersosimo said, "there's opportunity for new growth and for companies to flourish. There's a void in the sheer number of competitors...especially given the size of the market," he said.
ADT declined to comment. "It is not ADT's custom to comment on the competitive landscape," said Ann Lindstrom, director of corporate communications for ADT.
Asked how he felt about Guardian coming to town, another major player in the Chicago security market, Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Services, responded with tongue firmly in cheek that he was going gray over the news and said, "We're scared to death to have Russ come to town."
Bonifas said Alarm Detection is the largest independently owned alarm company in Illinois. It is a full service company that offers burglar, access control and fire to residential and commercial accounts. It has a UL-listed central station, and is considered one of the largest regional players nationally.
"Of course we wish [all competitors] would leave Chicago and let us do our business, but that's not going to happen," he said. "Chicago is a major market," he continued.
Guardian's purchase of Certified was a wise move, Bonifas said. "Jay Rutili [former owner of Certified Security, who will continue to work for the company] has been around for a heck of a long time and been very successful. Russ bought a sizeable company there," Bonifas observed.
Bonifas believes this town is big enough for both players and noted that Guardian and Certified's niches are different than Alarm Detection Services, especially on the residential end.
Guardian has a builder program that Bonifas predicted would do well in the area, while Alarm Detection does "direct negotiation into existing homes."
Bonifas also noted that it's better for consumers to have competitors in the same market, as competition often fosters innovation and forces companies to run a "leaner and meaner" operation, he said.