On Location: Central Station with Centra-Larm

New Hampshire based company looks to expand nationally
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Centra-Larm Monitoring, a wholesale monitoring company based here, is actively seeking a fourth central station to bolster its national presence, Kevin Helmig, company president and CTO, told Security Systems News.

"We are in acquisition mode and are actively looking to purchase additional third party central stations,” Helmig said. “We’d prefer something located around the central part of the United States, but we're not limiting ourselves to any specific geographic region."

Family-owned Centra-Larm operates two facilities in New Hampshire, the main building here and one in Bedford. It opened its third facility in Monterey, Calif., just over a year ago. Centra-Larm has 90,000 accounts and about 70 employees.

Helmig said that the company met its one-year goals of overhauling the Monterey space, updating the technology, and connecting it with the New England facilities. Now the main goal is account growth.

Helmig, along with Arlene Helmig, CFO, and Scott Mailhot, VP of operations, toured a Security Systems News editor around the Manchester facility in late March as part of our On Location: Central Stations continuing series.

Centra-Larm also plans more marketing with a national focus, according to Helmig, which includes exhibiting at ISC West. Helmig has attended the show in the past, but this is the first time Centra-Larm will have a booth. It’s something the company has “grown into,” he said.

 Photo: Kevin Helmig (left) toured Spencer Ives (right) around Centra-Larm's Manchester N.H. facility. 

“We knew that once we got the California site up and running for a true, national coverage footprint, having a booth space at ISC [West] was no longer just a dream, but an exciting reality,” he said.

For ISC West, Centra-Larm redesigned the 200-square-foot booth it has used at other trade shows. It doesn’t need a larger booth to represent its high level of service, Helmig said.  

Centra-Larm hosted its first user group last year as part of its expanded marketing program, and it plans to host another event in September, he said.

When it comes to redundancy and high availability, Centra-Larm takes a focused approach. “The strongest play that we bring to the table … is that we support our account base from multiple sites,” Mailhot said. “We have three sites supporting the account base.”

The company 14 years ago acquired an answering service, which now functions as the front-end for some of its dealers as well as other retail customers. The service is kept separate from the monitoring center. Helmig stressed the importance of central station operators focusing solely on monitoring.

Proper training also is a high priority. Centra-Larm’s proprietary two-month training program combines live observation and classroom work. Phone etiquette is a key topic, Mailhot said.