Level 5 acquires Westec Interactive

Former teleco executive sees market opportunity in interactive video and audio applications
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Wednesday, December 1, 2004

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Looking to gain a presence in an emerging market, full-service security firm Level 5 Security acquired Westec InterActive Security, an interactive video monitoring firm, from Secom Co., Ltd. in an all-cash deal. Full terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
“We’re pleased with this acquisition and we’re going to make something extraordinary out of it,” said Level 5 founder Gerald T. Vento. Vento will serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the combined company that will operate as Westec InterActive.

Prior to  Level 5,  Vento   started   TeleCorp. PCS, a provider of digital wireless communication services, which he sold to AT&T Wireless for $5.7 billion in 2002.

The adoption rate of video monitoring services will increase, according to Vento, as the price to provide these applications decrease. At the same time, technology improvements will also play an important role in video monitoring, such as the ubiquity of DSL, T1, WiFi and WiMax. One of the leading services will be virtual guard tours, he said.

“Westec is the platform,” said Vento. “We will just build on that.”

Mitch Johnson, who served as president at Level 5, has been named president of Westec InterActive. Johnson, who will be based in Irvine, Calif. is responsible for the day-to-day operations. He previously worked with Vento at TeleCorp. as senior vice president of sales and operations.

Johnson said the opportunity for remote audio and video services is almost endless.

Whereas remote viewing has been widely adopted for employee safety uses, Johnson said future applications will enable management to remotely check on staff members to make sure they are dressed properly for work, for example, or are there at all.

“Literally, you can go out and market to every business with management solutions,” he said of the possible services the company could offer.

Secom, a security company based in Japan, spun Westec InterActive out of its residential business, Westec Security, in 1996. It marked one of the last security properties that Secom held in the United States. It previously sold Westec Security to Edison Security in 1998, which had approximately 150,000 accounts in 16 states.

At the time of the acquisition in November, Irvine, Calif.-based Westec monitored approximately 1,700 locations with more than 100 customers.

“(Vento) is a visionary,” according Michael Upp, vice president of business development at Westec InterActive. “He sees interactive as the next trend he wants to get behind.”