Honeywell shows off new Headquarters, Alarm museum

That was then, this is now
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MELVILLE, N.Y.--The May 21 opening of Honeywell’s Ademco Alarm Security Museum and tour of Honeywell’s new headquarters featured both a trip down memory lane and a glimpse into the future.

I joined a handful of trade reporters and members of Honeywell’s First Alert Professional President’s Council (the top 15 First Alert dealers) at the event. Honeywell Security president Ben Cornett and First Alert president Joe Sausa were there; the surprise guest was Leo Guthart, former president of Ademco. Ralph Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm Systems, received special thanks for his help developing the museum.

Honeywell Security and Custom Electronics president Ron Rothman led the “backstage tour” of the spiffy new Honeywell facility. In the engineering department, several products were on display (some prototypes, some awaiting launch, some European models that may or may not come to the Americas).

Gordon Hope showed us around AlarmNet, and we explored the Quality Assurance department where they shake, shower, strike-with-lightning and otherwise abuse products to ensure quality. The goal is not to see if the products will pass a test, Rothman said, but rather to see at what point they will fail.

Guthart established the QA department in the early ’80s. To avoid any rubber stamping of products, QA reports to the business leader rather than to engineering. Rothman said-and several FAP dealers (including John Jennings of Safeguard Security and John Bourque of HB Alarm) reiterated-that the establishment of this department, along with the sales acumen of Guthart, helped “turn around Ademco” at a time when some of its products were not up to snuff.

In his 25-year tenure with the company, Rothman said the products have changed dramatically, but the design parameters established by Guthart have not. Tasked with manufacturing products that have to work in “the worst possible environment … there might be humidity, cobwebs, bugs, you name it … but our products have to work … they can’t interfere [with other electronics], they can’t be interfered with, they can’t cost a heck of a lot, they have to work for more than 20 years, and they have to work every single time, or we’ve failed.” Some new entrants into security manufacturing, particularly from the “cable, computer and telecommunications industries, may think it’s easy to manufacture reliable security products. It’s not,” Rothman said.