Maine provider keeps on growing

Cunningham Security Systems to acquire
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

YARMOUTH, Maine—Residential and commercial provider Cunningham Security Systems anticipates acquiring 2,000 monitored accounts by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

“It’s very exciting for us because it increases our footprint in a manageable way,” said Michael Major, president of the company, based here.

The acquisition, coming on the heels of a long term of growth for the company, will be its third in five years and its first outside Maine, Major told Security Systems News. He declined to release details until the deal is final.

Specializing in customization for its clients, Cunningham currently has just over 6,000 total accounts, 5,100 of which are monitored, throughout Maine, southern New Hampshire and parts of Vermont, with a few in Massachusetts.

Its business is 50-50 residential-commercial and RMR of $153,000, which will be boosted by $50,000 with the upcoming acquisition, Major said.

He attributes the company’s ninth straight year of double-digit growth in large part to promotion via social media

“Our redeveloped web presence and search engine optimization efforts have dramatically increased our inbound lead generation,” he said.

“Our continued radio and television awareness campaigns are creating the brand awareness that we have been hoping for,” he added.

He expects 2015 to be a period of continued growth both organically and through additional regional acquisitions.

“We’re kind of selective. We are looking for the same kind of synergy we have with our current client base,” he said.

Major and his wife, Mary Jean Major, bought the company in 2005 from its previous owners, who started it in 1983. They have 19 employees, including their son, Nathan, who is charge of business development.

“We’re not a sales-driven organization, we’re a service-driven organization. We put a lot of effort into providing really, really good service and as a result, we see new growth,” Major said.

Growth also presents its challenges, including managing workload because demand rate exceeds current capabilities, he said.

“We’re trying to figure out how to attract the right employees to help us grow. We need experienced installers. Those are very difficult to come by. We lose quality control when we hire subcontractors; most don’t stand up to our standard of quality. That’s our bottleneck right now,” he said.

Nathan Major agrees. “Finding people willing to spend the time to learn how we want to be represented” is a challenge, he told SSN. “A lot of people will try to do things quickly rather than taking the time to do it correctly.”

As for trends in the resi side of his business, Michael Major noted pressure from cable companies and “even some of the DIYs.”

And, “I think we are always going to compete against the nationals the way that we always have,” he said.

“We have clients who see value in paying a little bit [more] money for a good quality product. Contrary to where the market is, everything we do is custom-designed. We don’t push packages.”

Predominantly a “Honeywell house,” Major said, Cunningham consults, advises, installs, services and uses third-party central station Centra-Larm out of Manchester, N.H., to round out its offerings.