Honeywell First Alert Professionals get ready

Dealers gather in Scottsdale; discuss effect on industry of demographic, technological changes
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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—The Nov. 8-11 Honeywell’s First Alert Professionals’ convention drew a crowd of 850 here, including representatives from 170 First Alert companies.
Attendees hailed from shops of all sizes and included veterans like Mel Mahler of ADS, John Bourque of HB Alarm, and Russ Cersosimo of Guardian Protection as well as relative newcomers such as Shandon Harbour, president of SDA Security, and Brett Bean, president of FE Moran. All of the above were recognized during the event (along with many others) for their companies’ respective marketing efforts. (Harbour and Bean were both featured in an August Security Systems News special section “20 under 40” about younger, talented executives in the industry. Search “Harbour” and “Bean” at www.securitysystemsnews.com to read more.) The recognition of Harbour and Bean seemed particularly relevant at this event since a major theme of the convention was the effect of changing demographics and changing technology on the security industry.
The official theme of the event was the question: “Are you ready?”
Ready for what?
Ready, explained Honeywell Security and Custom Electronics’ president Ron Rothman during the Nov. 9 opening session, for the communications revolution that’s going on. He was referring to the “perfect storm” underway: the demise of the POTS line; the AMPs sunset; the new generation of (Gen X and Y, Millennial) consumers; the availability of new technology; and new Internet-era entrants into the security business (who may be underestimating the complexity of the security market, according to Honeywell execs, but who may provide a distraction in the meantime).
If you’re ready, opportunities abound, Rothman and others said, but if you’re not, and you’re still doing business the same old way, you may be out of business or losing money soon. “This [change in technology] will happen once in a lifetime,” he said. Where dealers have an opportunity to future-proof their accounts is by “using multi-path, end-to-end solutions.”
Honeywell, Rothman said, is poised to help dealers. One of the new product/services that received a lot of air time was Honeywell’s “Total Connect,” offering, which allows a customer—business or residential—to control an alarm system via email, Web browser or cell phone.
During an educational session called “Profiting From the Changing Landscape of Communications,” Honeywell vice president of AlarmNet Gordon Hope explained to a packed room how to position security systems to the next generation of buyers, those who are looking for bells and whistles and who don’t ever worry (unlike previous generations) how reliable a product is. “The challenge we have,” Hope said, “is to embrace the fact that the world is changing and to learn the strategies to succeed ...The value of your business will be based on how well you navigate this landmine of communication challenges.”
John Jennings, chief executive officer of Safeguard Security of Scottsdale, had another standing-room-only conference room for his educational session called “100% GSM,” where he talked about his rationale for installing GSM in all residential systems. Talking about the changing communications landscape, he asked the audience how many had an IT professional on staff. “If you don’t have one, start interviewing,” he said.