The great ESX 2015 roundup

TechVision Challenge, other changes in program well-received, chairman says
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

BALTIMORE—ESX 2015 brought some positive changes to the program, held here June 24-26, according to ESX chairman George De Marco.

One thing new was the TechVision Challenge, in which the top 10 ESX Innovation Award recipients were pitted against one another in front of a “Shark Tank” of industry experts. Honeywell, with its new MaxPro Cloud offering, impressed the judges most and on June 25 was crowned “Best of Show” on the ESX exhibition floor.

“There was a tremendous amount of excitement generated among all 10 companies that were nominated to participate in the TechVision Challenge. And the great thing about it was they all did a fantastic job in their presentations,” De Marco told Security Systems News.

Will ESX host the TechVision challenge next year? “Absolutely, without a doubt,” De Marco said.

Ending with a business-focused keynote (see below) was another change positively received, De Marco said. In the past, ESX had ended with an ESA luncheon and member meeting, but this year’s ESX-branded event was more applicable to attendees, he said.

De Marco said although attendance was down this year, to about 1,750, “considering the recent riots and the perception about Baltimore, we were very happy with the attendance turnout,” he told SSN.

“Many security professionals voiced their concerns about attending an event in a city that has had challenging events surface, potentially compromising their safety. I believe that as an industry, we must stand up during emergencies and disasters in municipalities, and support the police and fire services and their citizens. That’s what we do,” he said.

Security Systems News editors Amy Canfield and Spencer Ives attended the event and provide the following roundup of the insights they gleaned from the ESX2015 education sessions and from their meetings with industry pros at the show:

Amy’s Roundup

June 23

I had a very nice conversation with BeON CEO Alexei Erchak late this afternoon, who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule here in ESX-Land to fill me in on his company’s growing success.

Since I last spoke to him at ISC West, BeON has “made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts,” he said.

The LED lightbulb preventative security system has passed UL testing, dealers are clamoring for it and BeON is shipping now to beta testers and Kickstarter backers. He’s here at ESX to talk further with dealers.

BeON is targeting the 80 percent of the market that says that it doesn’t want a home security system.

Erchak has heard from numerous consumers who appreciate his company’s approach, he said. Women in the 25- to 35-year-old range who live with roommates or with a spouse who travels a lot, for instance, tell him that they like the system because it makes it look like more people are home when they just might be there by themselves.

Feedback has been key to BeON’s growth, he said. “People are giving us ideas for protection, ideas we never even thought of,” he said.

“By this time next year we’ll be talking about interoperability,” Erchak said.

I’ll certainly keep in touch with Erchak to see how his company progresses.

June 24

Rapid change in the industry, home automation, the IofT and DIY were prevalent themes at the education sessions I attended today.

First up was the OpenXchange, a forum featuring Mike Hackett of Qolsys, Rod Coles of Bold Technologies, Syed Zaeem Hosain of Aeris and Alexei Erchak of BeON, moderated by George De Marco, ESX chairman.

De Marco asked audience members if they were ready to be disrupted. Emerging technology and cloud-based security is changing the industry forever, he said. “Is your company just surviving or experiencing transformational success? What differentiates you?”

The panelists discussed the need for manufacturers to keep up with the pace of change by responding to customers’ feedback; the impact of home automation and DIY and how to meld those into the security business and more.

You can read more about that discussion here.

Next was “DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity?” with Brian Leland of Interlogix and Sterling Barnes of Melaleuca Security, moderated by Kirk MacDowell of

Interlogix looks at DIY as a long-term strategy, it will only keep growing, Leland said. It’s the fastest evolving market and there’s a lot traditional security providers can learn from it, he said.

Barnes said he doesn’t see a need to be in direct competition with DIY. “Our customers come to us because they want a professionally installed system,” he said. “Don’t be worried that NEST and Google will ruin your business, but customers will want some of those features.” I’ll be writing further about this discussion as well.

Next, Jamie Kane, president of Sandler Training, talked to company heads about “Assuming the Right Leadership Role.” This interactive session had audience members discussing their jobs as mentors, supervisors, coaches and trainers, and how to find the right balance for their specific company’s success. What should be their primary focus?

I sat in on an “audience group” with Brendan Armstrong, president of Trinity Wiring and Security Solutions; Ritch Haselden of Essence; and Robert Irish of Mediacom. Those three gentlemen were passionate about their roles as company leaders and took the session seriously. Takeaway? Delegate. Don’t train and supervise when others can do it. Motivate and coach.

“Monetize the Internet of Things,” moderated by Kirk MacDowell, aimed to “unbaffle and provide clarity” about IoT, he said. People are frustrated by all the products out there. What to do?

Qolsys’ Hackett,’s Jeff Bedell, Honeywell’s Gordon Hope and ADT’s Paul Plofchan all noted that most people most trust security companies to monitor their home automation systems, so that’s a prime opportunity.

“The opportunity is to sell into the demand. The risk is that as an industry we let someone else do it,” Bedell said.

Said Hope, “What do we say when the customer says, ‘I don’t need your monitoring. I can get it direct from my app for free.’” The answer is, he said, “We’re not free because we provide value. You can DIM, but apps won’t keep your house from burning down. Notifications are great, but what if you’re halfway around the world?”

Tell customers why you’re not free and why you’re unique, Hope said, adding that “we will not survive as an industry without offering home automation. Embrace the change, there’s much more upside than downside.”

At ESA Celebrates, De Marco encouraged donations to the ESA philanthropy project, ESA Gives Back! This year, donations go to the Green Berets’ Next Ridgeland, a program that helps Green Berets transition from active duty to the next step in their lives. De Marco’s daughter Lauren sang one of the loveliest renditions of “I’m Proud to be an American” that I’ve ever heard.

June 25

This morning, Security Systems News publisher Tim Purpura officially announced our new conference, Cloud+. Much more about that to come.

Spencer’s Roundup

June 24

On my way to today’s first panel, I ran into a few people I’d either met or talked to before. First was Keith Jentoft, who I first met at the NEACC expo, near the end of May. Second was Robert Forsythe. It was great to put a face to a voice, after I spoke with him earlier in June about US Monitoring’s new app. Third was Jens Kolind, who I met back at ISC West.

My first panel of the day was “Monitoring for the DIY Market.” Jay Stuck, EVP and chief marketing officer of SecureWatch 24, and Daniela Perlmutter, Essence’s VP of marketing, were speakers. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator.

State Farm operates a proprietary central station to monitor its buildings across the country. From Miskulin’s perspective, DIY is a great solution for small proprietary centrals due to the ease of shipping systems for DIY installation, and connection back to the central station. Another point that stood out was Stuck’s—that a big issue in professionally monitoring DIY systems would be customer service, knowing how to handle end-user questions. Perlmutter, who identified herself as an “avid” DIY user, said there is definitely value in the DIY market—evidenced by big entrants like Google—and professional security companies have the edge of experience and expertise.

I then went to the Networking and Public Safety Luncheon. SIAC presented its William N. Moody Award, recognizing those with commendable devotion to the alarm industry, to Ron Rothman whose retirement from Honeywell was announced in January. SIAC then surprised Stan Martin, SIAC's executive director with his own William N. Moody award for his service to SIAC. Also at the luncheon, ESA presented its 2015 Youth Scholarship to Douglas Leonard.

CSAA also presented its inaugural Public Service Award to Bill Hobgood, project manager for the public safety team for the city of Richmond, Va.'s IT department, for his work to promote the ASAP program.

Baltimore's Deputy Police Commisioner Kevin Davis then gave his keynote address, filling in for Anthony Batts, the city's police commissioner originally scheduled. Davis talked about the recent unrest in Baltimore and the important role security plays in identifying those "people who harmed this city." Davis reassured attendees that Baltimore is "a great city, and a safe city." He also identified body cameras as a security technology that many Baltimore police officers are in favor of. 

It was also announced that ESX 2016 will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, June 8-10.

On my way to the next panel, it was nice to see Michael Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring.

Many intriguing points were brought up at “Central Station Technology” with CSAA’s executive director Jay Hauhn, Bosch Security’s marketing manager Chris Larcinese and IBS VP of external partnerships Jens Kolind. The cloud will be a big technology in years to come, according to Hauhn. Larcinese said, “In some regard, [cloud is] a logical progression of the technology.” Kolind said that cloud provides central stations with the benefit of not having to worry about upgrades or other programming matters.

In “Increase RMR with Video Monitoring Services,” Larry Folsom, president and CEO of I-View Now, presented a few things to keep in mind when considering video services, like the sales side, having a strategic vision, and doing the best monitoring for it using best practices. Michael Jagger, president of Provident Security and fellow panelist, gave examples of how he incorporated video monitoring it into his business. Said Tom Szell, SVP for ADS Security, “It’s great business, it’s a great way to grow your RMR: through video.”

My last session of the day was “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Stephen Smith, national professional development manager of customer care for ADT, discussed ways to best train new hires, particularly those of the younger generation. One suggestion?  Look at how learning styles are changing between kinesthetic, auditory and visual, he said.

Mike Lamb of UCC made one point in particular that really has stayed with me. He said that employees born between 1980 and 2000 like to know that there’s value in what they do. This shouldn’t be too hard to impress on them, Lamb said, when you address that the root of security monitoring is protecting the lives and homes of other people.

June 25

At the start of Day 2 was the panel “False Dispatch Reduction Update.” The panelists were Thomas Waugh, division chief, permit and code enforcement for Baltimore in the alarm reduction section; Kristine Walker, alarm services manager for Vector Security; Derrick Jackson, dispatch reduction manager for Vector Security; and Maria Malice of Bonds Alarm.

They addressed various forms of reducing false alarms, including Enhanced Call Verification. Waugh and Jackson said they’d seen generally lower rates of false alarms in recent years. Malice said that without reducing false alarms, the next step for a city is verified response, “and that is not where any of us want to be,” she said.

I bumped into Jay Stuck in the hall who introduced me to Steven Paley, president of Rapid Security Solutions based in Sarasota, Fla.

Speaking of chance meetings, I’ve been talking to SIAC for a while now and it was great to finally meet a couple of them face to face; Stan Martin, executive director, and Steve Keefer, national law enforcement liaison.

ESA and CSAA hosted a presentation on deceptive sales practices, featuring Diane Pruitt, recently solicited by a deceptive security company in Baltimore; Derrick Layton, a retired Baltimore police officer, who also was solicited with deceptive sales practices; Jay Hauhn, executive director for CSAA, Marshall Marinace, president of ESA; David Bleisch, chief legal officer for ADT; and Casey Callaway from the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Pruitt and Layton shared their recent experiences, both emphasizing how persistent the sales people were, even when being pushed out the door or, in Layton’s case, being shown the homeowner’s police badge. Hauhn noted that there is a difference between a door-knocking company, which is a fine practice, and the deceptive sales practices used in scams.

Before the opening keynote luncheon, Security Systems News’ publisher Tim Purpura announced our latest conference, Cloud+, focusing on cloud technologies and how it can be applied in the security industry. Then retired US Army special forces officer Major Gen. James Champion, then gave his keynote address, sharing some of his experiences with the Green Berets and his observations on leadership. “When people look at an organization, where do they look first? They look at the top,” Champion said; an organization’s leadership lets others know where it is heading. Champion also outlined what his cause, the Green Beret Foundation does, helping Green Berets transition into civilian lifestyles, which is often a slower pace than they are used to. At the conclusion of the keynote, ESA presented a check to Champion and the foundation for $5,000.

I stopped by EMERgency24’s booth to meet in person Kevin McCarthy, company national sales manager.

Next to EMERgency24 was Essence’s booth—my next meeting. I saw Daniela Perlmutter, Essence VP and head of marketing, during the previous day’s panel on central stations entering the DIY market, and it was nice to hear a bit more about the DIY offerings that Essence provides. While there I also met with Yaniv Amir, president of Essense USA, Barak Katz, Essence VP of business development, and Ritch Haselden, VP of sales for Essence USA.

It seems like it wasn't too long ago that I was talking to AvantGuard’s Josh Garner about its sister company, Freeus acquiring the PERS business of Securus. It was great to meet members of each team—Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, Matthew Brandon, national sales manager of Avantguard, Brook Winzeler, GM for Freeus, and Marc McGrann, national sales manager for Freeus.

I stopped by for a quick chat with Warren Hill, Interlogix’s product marketing manager in the Americas for intrusion. We talked about the company’s ZeroWire home automation hub and the UltraSync app that connects it with various devices.

From there I headed to the Telguard booth to meet with Pamela Benke, company director of marketing, and Shawn Welsh, VP of marketing and business development. They both told me a lot about their home automation technologies, HomeControl, as well as HomeControl Flex.

At the Quick Response booth I met Jeff Cohen, company president, Renee Trebec, sales manager, and Mark Penwell, business development and retention manager. Cohen described the main footprint of the company as being around the Midwest and the Great Lakes. The company has been family owned since 1969.

This show was the first time I’d met or spoken with Alarm Central. At the booth I met Jeremy Wyble, GM, and Jeff Herdman, central station manager. “Our main focus is to allow our dealers to grow with us,” Herdman said. “[If] they grow, we grow.”

I stopped by Bold Technologies' booth to meet with Chuck Speck, the company's president. Back in November, when he and Bold CEO Rod Coles founded White Rabbit Electronics, I spoke with them about the timeline for the company; they hoped to showcase White Rabbit at ISC West, which they did, and distribute by the time ESX was held. Speck said they are pretty close to that timeline, and hope to be rolling out White Rabbit out soon. 

At UCC’s booth, I met with Mark Matlock, and Ron Bowden. I talked with both of them not too long ago about UCC’s expansions. I also talked with Mike Lamb, a panelist for the “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Lamb and I talked a bit more about Generation Y and the point that UCC hasn’t tried to tailor all aspects of its training to younger applicants. Instead, Lamb noticed that they gravitate more toward the company’s existing principles of creating a peer environment and working collaboratively.

It was great to see Mike Bodnar, Security Partners’ president, again, following my visit to their newest central station in Las Vegas. Security Partners recently hired Tom McNeil as VP of sales, who told me about a back-to-basics approach for the company, working more to develop relationships with customers.

My final floor meeting was with Rick Stevens, response center sales and technical support for International Response Center, based in Rockford, Minn.

June 26

Today started with a visit to All American Monitoring's booth. There I saw Lisa French, national sales representative, and Laura Hutchinson, national dealer support. I met both of them last month at the NEACC show where they were talking about the company’s MeyeView cameras. At this show they were showcasing the company's new proprietary GSM.

At DICE, company president and CEO Cliff Dice said that there was a good response to the company's hosted central station platform.

At the Rapid Response booth, Bryan Bardenett, the company’s senior account manager, said what the company was talking about most at this year's ESX was the upcoming expansion to its Syracuse facility, adding 35,000 square feet to its current 40,000.

Michael Zydor, Affiliated's managing director, and Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated's VP, said that one thing that kept appearing in their conversations with dealers on the exhibition floor was the 2g sunset.

I briefly stopped by the Acadian Monitoring Services booth and talked with Jason Caldwell, the company’s national sales representative.

Woodie Andrawos, NMC's executive vice president, mentioned the hot topic of DIY. When asked about the combination of DIY systems and professional monitoring, brought up in a Wednesday panel, Andrawos said professional monitoring is a must. "It has to be professionally monitored to be true security."

I stopped by the AvantGuard and Freeus booth again today, this time meeting Troy Iverson, AvantGuard's VP of sales and marketing, and Chris Pyle, Freeus VP of product. During this visit I heard more about AvantGuard's PERS Summit, to be held in Park City, Utah, at the end of September.

When I stopped by COPS Monitoring's booth, I heard more about the company's Mpower app, which David Smith, company director of marketing and communications, said gives the dealer more information on their account activity, such as how each alarm was resolved or concluded.

At Security Central's booth I saw Darryl Bray and Brett Springall, company CEO. Springall talked with me about the company's latest promotion, a $50,000 incentive, up to that amount in free monitoring, for dealers who switch to their central station. Springall said the offer has received a good response.

Luciana Harrison, Monitronics' Eastern regional sales manager, said that the show this year looked like it had some slower traffic, but it was still good for meeting dealers. The company is soon moving to its new campus. Bre Otero, dealer sales and marketing coordinator for Monitronics, said that the process of moving each department started a week ago and will last about a month. One department is moving at a time to ensure minimum disruption for customers, Otero said, with the central station moving last. "It'll be great to have everybody back in one building," Otero said.

My final floor meeting was a brief discussion with Nik Gagvani, president of CheckVideo, and Ed Troha, company director of marketing, about Security Systems News' new conference, Cloud+.

As activity on the show floor was winding down, I headed to the closing keynote luncheon, featuring economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics.  He projected that the economy would be pretty good for the next 15 years, with a dip around 2019.  Many factors in the good economy have relevance for the security sector, he said; as the home market and mortgage lending rates look better, more people will be buying houses. With a notable rise in disposable income, Beaulieu said that this could bring new installation opportunities for security companies. One growing in particular is the PERS space, with higher numbers of seniors expected in coming years. This comment made for a nice transition to my next event.

My last educational session of this year's show, "To PERS or Not to PERS," had a more intimate session than most. The speakers took chairs off the stage, turned off the projector and the microphones, and asked attendees to move up to the first row, making the session an impromptu "roundtable" based on questions and answers. Panelists included Yaniv Amir, president of Essence, Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, and Daniel Oppenheim, VP of Affiliated Monitoring. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator. The panelists were in agreement that it is better to separate PERS operators from those handling traditional burglary and fire alarms. Special attention need to be given to PERS operators in terms of training and support; central stations should evaluate whether they can handle that in-house, or that it would be best left to larger centrals with those capabilities.

Read more about that panel here.