Industry veterans launch ‘boutique’ monitoring co.

Monday, September 1, 2003

LANCASTER, Pa. - Patrick Egan and Ron Bodnar have launched Security Partners, a new wholesale monitoring company they say will strive to provide more personalized service to its customers.

The two know a little bit about the industry. Egan was the founder and president of Commonwealth Security Systems Inc., which he sold in 1997. He currently operates Select Security Inc., a commercial and custom residential security systems provider. Bodnar, who Egan said will be running the show at Security Partners, comes to the company from Criticom International.

The two decided to found the company as a means of taking on what has become the norm in the industry, Egan said.

“I am 100 percent convinced that the typical contract/wholesale monitoring company cannot provide what we call the boutique central station services, particularly to high-end residential and commercial and industrial accounts,” Egan said. “It didn’t take us long to decide we wanted to go out and locate guys who want real high-quality service, are willing to pay for it at a competitive price and we’ll give them really good service.”

Egan said the goal for Security Partners is to monitor no more than 100,000 accounts, but that isn’t necessarily set in stone.

“We would be delighted to have 50 or 60 dealers with 1,500 to 2,000 accounts each,” he said. “We don’t need 100,000 accounts.”

By providing a cafeteria-style list of options to customers and monitoring, Bodnar said, the company hopes to avoid some of the pitfalls that others in the business have encountered.

“The problem with the big guys is that they do really well at just handling generic alarms,” Bodnar said. “The problem is that they have so many accounts that their operators deal with those generic accounts 99 percent of the time. So therefore, anyone who has any type – and I mean any type – of specialized need, when that call comes in to an operator, because they’re so used to those generic types of alarms, they don’t have a clue how to process that specialized need.”

Security Partners has invested what Egan described as “a substantial amount” in state-of-the-art equipment, including two backup generators and three separate providers for telephone and T1 lines.

Egan said that Bodnar will be responsible for growing the company’s accounts, but that neither wants to sacrifice quality for quantity.

“If we only bring in five [dealers] between now and the end of the year, so what?” he said. “We’re OK with that. We feel that we’re going to say no to more dealers than we’re going to sign up.”

John Mack of USBX Advisory Services, said that, if done right, new wholesale monitoring companies can do well, even in down economic times.

“I think successful wholesale monitoring businesses are reasonably profitable when they’re well-run,” he said.

What may help Security Partners, Mack said, is Egan and Bodnar’s experience in the industry, although name recognition doesn’t guarantee success.

“I think if you’ve got relationships with clients who see you as a good resource for that service, then you’ve got some chance of starting to build a business,” Mack. “It’s certainly a field with plenty of players, though, so it’s not going to be as easy to make it work, but I think there’s still room for it.”