Franchisees see sale as positive
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - While some in the industry may question Tyco Fire & SecurityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s announcement that it was in talks with a number of potential buyers for Sonitrol, the mood among a number of SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s franchisees is one of optimism.
Leo Wanstreet of Sonitrol Tri-County in Farmington Hills, Mich., has been a Sonitrol dealer since 1987. He said the parent company has been mum about the sale, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s optimistic that it will be positive for franchisees.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been a whole lot said about it, but I think generally, the feeling is that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a good thing,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a very good fit with Tyco.Ã¢â‚¬Â
One franchisee, who asked that his name not be used, went a step farther, suggesting that SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relationship to Tyco may actually have hurt business.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a negative perception out there about Tyco that mostly comes from the stories about [former Chief Executive Officer Dennis] Koslowski,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll all benefit from a fresh start under a new company.Ã¢â‚¬Â
At press time, a deal was expected to close by the end of April, although neither Sonitrol nor Tyco would comment on potential suitors.
Because a deal had not closed, Ellen Koh, SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s director of communications, deferred all comment to Tyco. At press time, according to Deb Coller,
vice president of communications for Tyco Fire & Security, there had been no movement on the divestiture beyond the initial talks with potential suitors.
SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 170 franchisees serve an estimated 180 cities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. They sell, install and service security systems based on SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s technology.
In a conference call with investors in February, Tyco Fire & Security Vice President David Robinson said Sonitrol had generated a lot of interest.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had great interest in it because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great business,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to do very well with a new buyer fairly soon.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As for what franchisees can expect after Sonitrol is sold, Wanstreet said there hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been much news on that front either.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just been conjecture on the part of the dealers,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The main line is that things will be divulged after the deal is closed and everything is final.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Tyco acquired Sonitrol, which has been in business since 1963, in 2001. The main reason for the divestiture, Robinson said, was a conflict with TycoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ADT unit.
SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strength, said industry watcher Lee Jones of Support Services Group, lies in its track record for assisting police in capturing criminals. According to SonitrolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website, since 1977, the company has contributed to more than 145,000 apprehensions using its audio verification technology.