Former ADI exec scoops up Tri-Ed

Steve Roth buys the distributor from Tyco, plans to grow business in the United States
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario - Industry veteran and former ADI president Steve Roth, in conjunction with private equity firm Wheatley Partners, acquired Tri-Ed Distribution from Tyco International last month for an undisclosed sum.

As a result of the deal, Tri-Ed becomes the largest independent security distributor in North America. The company employs more than 200 and has 26 sales offices combined in Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States.

“The object is to build out the U.S. footprint and make us thoroughly a national player,” said Roth on what the company intends to work on over the next 18 months.

Investment banking firm USBX Advisory Services advised Roth on the acquisition, as well as SR Distribution, the company he formed to complete the deal. Equity holders in the company are Roth, USBX and Wheatley Partners.

Tyco could not be reached for comment at press time. Roth declined to comment on the value of the deal.

“I think it's good for the industry to have other healthy, well-capitalized competitors in the security distribution business,” said John Mack, president and chief executive officer at USBX. “In a growing industry, I think it’s good to have those choices.”

Roth, who will lead the Tri-Ed management team as president, said his immediate goals are to diversify the company’s existing distribution line with more access control and CCTV products.

“The business today is more burglar/fire centric,” he said.

Discussions are now underway and will continue into the future on what types of additions will be made to the line.

Up to three new branches are slated to open within four weeks of the acquisition, he said, mostly east of the Mississippi.

“We have a detailed plan for the next few years,” he said, adding “our focus is to build out the footprint to where the business is.”

Since the company’s existing software platform does not connect Canadian offices with those in the United States, Roth also plans to invest in technology upgrades in the short term, as well.

Formerly a division of Tyco Fire & Security, Tri-Ed provides equipment from more than 100 vendors, such as alarm panels, CCTV cameras, smoke detectors, speakers and structured cabling. Tri-Ed was folded into Tyco in the fall 2001, as a result of its acquisition of one-time sister company, Digital Security Controls.

“I think Tyco recognized this was not a core business for them,” said Roth. Tyco’s focus is more on manufacturing and not distribution, he said.

Tri-Ed’s headquarters will be moved to New York, and existing accounting and administrative offices will remain in the Toronto area.