Expansion pace aggressive for A.P.I. Monitoring biz

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

TORONTO - Rather than sitting back and enjoying its status as a profitable company, A.P.I. Monitoring has embarked on an aggressive expansion plan that has it opening four central stations within three years, with the first two among them launching this month in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

In the short-term, A.P.I. hopes to capture 15,000 new accounts by the end of the year, growing to 100,000 accounts. With 700 dealers now in the mix and a new in-house developed billing and monitoring software, the wholesale monitoring company might have the momentum it needs to achieve this goal.

“We’ve serviced dealers in the U.S. and Canada for many years,” according to Howard Garr, president and chief executive officer. Garr, who said the company billed out $11 million in 2003, sees this move as more an expansion than entry into a new market.

The central station in Arizona can house up to 20 operators, but will open with four. The company is now in the process to receive both UL and Factory Mutual approval for the site. The central station in Winnipeg is also slated to open this month, and by August the company had already identified hired staff for the location.

“We noticed an opening in the southwest,” said Garr, about the decision to open in Scottsdale. “We felt it was a logical place to go.” In preparation for its physical entrance into the United States, the company contacted more than 1,000 dealers throughout the states to stir up business.

The opening of its second and third central stations also marks the end of a long road to find the right software platform.

“We honestly believe our money and our profitability depends on us providing software to dealers,” Garr explained.

With the philosophy that dealers feel more comfortable working with regional companies, A.P.I. will pursue a new central station in the southeast of the United States, possibly in Florida or Georgia, within the next 12 months. It plans to open a new central station in the Northeast one year after that.

“The thing that will give us an edge, is we’ve spent three years developing software,” said Garr. The software is named Mona, short for monitoring administration, and was completed in early August. The system’s features include improved report generation that enables inventory control and automatic billing -among other features.