Mahler marches south

Monday, May 1, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--As he said he would, Mel Mahler extended his company's reach into Florida for the first time, in March, with the addition of a new partner, HHG in Ft. Walton.
That partnership brings with it between 400 and 500 accounts, "and that's just the initial account number. We expect they will add between 20 to 30 accounts per month," said Mahler, chief executive officer of ADS Security.
ADS currently has five partners--one in Knoxville, Tenn., two here in Nashville in parts of the city where ADS does not have sales people, and one in Gadsden, Ala.--and a year-end goal of establishing 20 new partners.
Mahler said he decided to initiate a partner program because some companies he would like to acquire have owners who do not want to sell.
"Typically, [the owners] are in their 40s, they've never worked for anyone else and they say, 'Why sell?'"
He said his partner program is different from some earlier models. "A lot of partner programs have failed because the partners have been pitted against the internal sales force. We're not going to do that." Another key difference: ADS partners are treated the same as the internal sales force, he said. They attend the same training, and have access to ADS software and marketing resources.
A partnership is attractive to some companies who want to stay independent, while becoming more competitive in their area using ADS resources, Mahler said.
In addition to the partnership goal, Mahler will continue to acquire companies and purchase accounts. He wants to increase the number of sales territories from the current 48 to 60 by the end of 2006.
This winter, ADS purchased accounts from Advantage Fire and Security in Prattville, Ala. In a separate deal, ADS acquired First Coast Security of Savannah. The operations, and First Coast's roughly 350 accounts, have been folded into ADS's Savannah branch. Larry Hartley, former owner of First Coast, has joined ADS as operations manager. Terms of these deals were not released.
ADS has 13 branches and 57,000-plus accounts in Tenn., Ala., Ga., Ky., and now Fla. Mahler's long-running acquisition streak will continue, with"four pretty good-sized companies currently in the acquisition pipeline,"
Mahler said his senior staff, including Lela Mullins, senior vice president of monitoring operations, and Steve Kappel, his chief operating officer who came onboard one year ago and has taken over the day-to-day oversight of branch operations, have "freed [him] up to go out and cultivate these acquisitions."