The fall from glory

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, July 1, 2002

There's been a flurry of activity here at Security Systems News.

Though that's not an unusual pace for us with publication deadlines happening every three weeks or so, but the past two months have been particularly interesting. What am I talking about, you may wonder?

Here's a one word answer -- Tyco.

We, like so many of you in the security industry, have watched Tyco fall from its glory. Its plans to break up into four separate companies ended this spring after its stock price took a nose dive shortly after those plans were announced. And now, many of us are aware, either from reading the front page of this publication or one of the numerous stories that appeared nationwide, that the man who built Tyco into largely what it is today, has been indicted on sale tax evasion charges and charges of fraud.

Dennis Kozlowski and Tyco were intertwined, said some investors that I spoke to. Many people don't think about the conglomerate without Kozlowski coming into the picture, too.

Kozlowski paved the way for Tyco's acquisition spree. In 2001 the company made 350 acquisitions. About $1.28 billion during that same year was spent buying small security firms.

Some analyst referred to Kozlowski as "Deal a Day Dennis." Affectionately said or not, it seems to be fairly true, especially in the alarm industry where those acquisitions helped build ADT Security Services into the market share leader that it is today in home security systems. And, that strategy helped create what we now know as SimplexGrinnell, a powerhouse company in the fire market created by joining two entities.

And then onto the security product side. Though a newer endeavor for Tyco and Kozlowski alike, two major manufacturing acquisitions came together -- DSC and it's Tri-Ed distribution arm and Sensormatic.

The anticipation was that more acquisitions, like those on the manufacturing side, would be part of Tyco's future. Now that future remains uncertain for both former chief executive officer Kozlowski and Tyco.

This sudden downturn raises many questions. A few months or a year from now, will Tyco still be a conglomerate? Or, will we soon see companies like ADT and others sold off in pieces or in their entirety?

It's a wait and see game right now. One thing's safe to say ­ the Tyco of tomorrow will be much different from the Tyco of today.