Dunbar shifts name, but retains same focus

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Friday, February 1, 2008

HUNT VALLEY, Md.--On Jan. 1, Dunbar Alarm Systems officially became Dunbar Security Systems, and while it's only a matter of one word, Dunbar executives hope it will help differentiate the company as they set their sights on expansion in 2008.
"If you look in the phone book there are 500 alarm companies," said Doug Bear, general manager for Dunbar Security Systems. The new name, he said will "better put forth the notion that we are more than an alarm company, that we're really geared for security analysis and provide direction for companies [and homeowners] on physical security.
"The goal is to expand outside of this region. We're looking at acquisitions [as well as growing organically] in 2008," he said.
Dunbar is headquartered here and does business in the mid-Atlantic region in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, "up into New York and a little down into North Carolina." Dunbar has 3,000 customers with a mix of 65 percent commercial, 35 percent residential. It has its own UL-listed central station and does third-party monitoring for another 3,000 accounts.
It's part of an 80-year-old family-owned business that has six companies and 5,000 employees, the bread and butter of which is a cash-handling business called Dunbar Armored. They also have a guard business and other cash-handling-related businesses.
Dunbar decided to get into physical security, Bear said, in 1983, because of its expertise protecting its own facilities. This business was initially called Federal Security Systems, and was later changed to Dunbar Alarm Systems.
While it started with mostly commercial systems, its residential business is growing. Dunbar does customized residential security. As the cost of systems has come down, Bear said the same systems that used to be for small businesses, "CCTV and remote access, are being incorporated into higher end homes."
Bear said Dunbar Security Systems is looking in all geographic directions as it contemplates expanding into a new region and acquisitions. Bear said senior management is supportive of this plan and he expects both will happen this calendar year. "We're in the discovery phase looking around the Washington, D.C., area ... and also on the West Coast," he said.