Franchise founder buys back the business

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

DAYTON, Ohio - A family that founded a Sonitrol franchise here in the early 1970s has repurchased the company and is now busy building the two-location business through a combination of internal sales and a recent acquisition.
Chip Shiver, president of Sonitrol of SW Ohio, bought the franchise from Sonitrol Corp. in Alexandria, Va., in June 2001 - four years after he sold the business to another security company. Shiver’s younger brother, Bob, in May was the winning bidder for the systems integration division of Armor Holdings.

Since then, the franchise has seen significant improvements in upgrades to the company’s monitoring technology to Sonitrol’s new SonNT platform, the purchase of Midwest Protective Services earlier this year, and a return to an earlier emphasis on customer service with the recent addition of a handful of customer service personnel.

“We felt like customers needed to know that they could call local management,” Shiver said.

Although the business needed some retooling at first - Shiver added a handful of customer service staff immediately to try to counteract soft sales - the company is poised to grow about 15 percent over the next two years, Shiver said.

Over the years, the franchise, which covers southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southern Indiana, has been through a series of sales. All or portions of the franchise have been sold five times since its doors opened in 1971.

The sale to Shiver came at a time when Protection One was selling 17 Sonitrol franchises it owned to Sonitrol Corp. in an effort to focus more heavily on that company’s core operations.

Protection One had come to own the Dayton location after buying New Jersey-based Centennial Security, the company which purchased Shiver’s franchise in the mid-1990s.

The addition of Midwest’s 2,500 accounts earlier this year, as well as five of the former security company’s employees, boosted Sonitrol of SW Ohio’s employee base to nearly 35 employees, said Randy Jackson, vice president of operations.

The company’s account base is now more than 5,000, a mix that is about 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential, he said.

And with a major technological upgrade to Sonitrol’s SonNT platform under its belt, the company plans to soon take advantage of the SonNT plat-form’s ability to monitor both Soni-trol and traditional alarm accounts on the same platform.

That uniformity will be important as the company looks to complete more tuck-in acquisitions, like Midwest, if the opportunity becomes available, Shiver said.