Gallagher woos GE Security dealers

GE Security says: Who's Gallagher?
Thursday, September 24, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif.—While GE Security executives continued to decline comment on reports that its security division is for sale at this week’s ASIS show, Gallagher Security Management Systems took out an ad in the Wall Street Journal wooing GE Security Dealers.

Asked about the advertisement, Mark Barry, president of Americas, GE Security, told Security Systems News that he and other GE Security executives were frustrated when they first saw the ad on Monday. "But when I read through it a couple of times, a couple of things stood out. First, they mentioned us far more than themselves, and a big part of what they said about themselves was, 'You may never of heard of us.' And no one has heard of them. So we looked into it and apparently they’re an Australian electric fence maker branching out into electronic security. Once that came to light, a lot of frustration went away."  

The ad reportedly cost $80,000, Barry said. It appears to have backfired, he said, because it actually drove booth traffic at GE Security's ASIS booth. "Basically, they spent $80,000 to drive buzz for us, so looking at their booth traffic, looking at the people coming to us with the ad,  it did more for us than for them. Our initial frustration dissipated pretty quickly, and it became kind of amusing."

However, Jack Turley, VP of sales and marketing for Cardax, Americas, said the tactic largely worked: “There’s a lot of ways to measure that impact. The most analytical way would be the web hits, I guess. We got five times the traffic that we normally get, and the visitors were scattered all over the world, but predominantly from the U.S., so I think the trade show, coupled with the Wall Street Journal, brought some of the awareness we were hoping for.”

The Gallagher advertisement, which was in the form of an “Open Letter to Security Dealers” from Bill Gallagher, chairman and CEO of Gallagher Group Limited, said: “General Electric is now in the process of putting its GE Security Products division up for sale. This may leave you, whether you are a GE Security system dealer, user, or specifier, in limbo. And frankly, we'd like to talk with you about this."

Click here to see the letter, which is posted on the company Web site. 

During a Sept. 22 press briefing GE Security president Dean Seavers told reporters that GE corporate policy does not allow employees to comment on “rumors” that GE Security was up for sale. GE Security had earlier declined to confirm or deny reports that the division is for sale. Click here to see Security Systems News’ story on the reported sale.  

According to its Web site, Gallagher Security Management Systems designs and manufactures Cardax access control, intruder alarms systems, and perimeter security. Gallagher has been in business for 70 years, “and we intend to be doing so over the next 70 years as well,” Gallagher said in the letter.

“Even as GE is exiting the security business, Gallagher is in a major expansion of our North American presence. We continue to have significant business growth that compels us to keep putting down even stronger roots here,” the letter continues. Further, the letter invites “discussions with those who sell, service, specify, or use GE security systems." Gallagher says he looks forward to "helping you protect your initial investment while future-proofing your company against the inevitable changes that are coming.”

GE's Barry said from a professional standpoint, the move on Gallagher's part is "kind of surprising, it doesn’t seem like a good way to promote yourself, a speculative attack on someone else."

Gallagher’s Turley obviously disagreed, and he thought the ad resonated with GE dealers specifically: “We certainly had our share of current GE dealers come to wonder what we’re all about ... [but] what was a bit unexpected was a few GE employees coming and sniffing around, and two of them actually handing us business cards and asking to keep them in mind as the expansion increases. Based on all of that, the Wall Street ad has been extremely successful.”

Further, he said, the ad generated interest outside of the channel itself. “With the ad [in the Wall Street Journal],” Turley said, “we’re not talking just to security dealers, but starting a dialog with the business world as a whole.”