Guardian to protect Chicago, Wisconsin

Sunday, January 1, 2006

PITTSBURGH--Marking the first acquisition in his company's 30-year history, Guardian Protection Services president Russ Cersosimo announced the purchase of Certified Security of Chicago, in late November.
"Up until this point, all of our growth has been strictly through our own market efforts," Cersosimo said. With close to 175,000 accounts, Guardian is among the largest residential security companies in the country. Without the acquisition, Guardian experienced 12-percent internal net growth for the first 11 months of 2005, Cersosimo said.
The acquisition represents a shift in Guardian's game plan: It is now actively exploring other acquisitions. Cersosimo would not elaborate, but indicated that he's in negotiations with "about eight other companies."
Guardian will stay the course in another respect, Cersosimo said, because it is not interested in simply buying accounts. "We're more interested in the talent and the personalities [in a potential acquisition] rather than just buying an account base," he said.
"We have programs that are tested and proven, what we need is the talent to implement them," he added.
In the past, Guardian opened offices "from scratch" when it expanded. The advantage to this approach is consistency from the "moment you open the door." The disadvantage is that it's time consuming, Cersosimo said. If he can find the right talent, acquisitions make sense as Guardian continues to grow, he said.
Cersosimo said he found what he was looking for with Certified Security, which has $200,000 in recurring monthly revenue and about 50 employees. It does business--roughly half commercial and half residential--in Chicago and Wisconsin. All employees, including founder and CEO Jay Rutili, will be retained. The back-office support and accounting operations will be consolidated and Certified accounts will be moved to Guardian's central station. Certified will assume the Guardian name.
Rutili, who's been in the security business for 35 years and founded Certified in 1999, said he's had entreaties from other companies, but was not tempted to sell until now. Rutili's known Cersosimo for 20 years and collaborated with him on business deals in the past. The two companies share a similar vision for taking care of customers, hiring quality employees and providing service to customers, Rutili said.
Working with Guardian, Rutili will be able to offer his customers new services and products. "They have a fantastic builder program," Rutili said, noting also that Guardian's computer systems are integrated, enabling customers to get reports. Further, the fact that Guardian has offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona and Indiana will help him better serve his business customers who have multiple locations, Rutili said.