Marlin wants to be bigger fish in central station pond

New president charged with taking company nationwide by the end of 2005
Thursday, April 1, 2004

ORLANDO, Fla. - With the hiring of a new president, Marlin Central Monitoring is looking to take its regional central station nationwide within the next two years.

Nationwide expansion can be a daunting task, but Barry Brannon, who came to Marlin from Security Associates International, has already made a sizable dent in that goal. In February, he started working on the necessary arrangements to more than quadruple Marlin’s reach, which until now had been seven states in the Southeast. And, Brannon said, the company is more than ready to handle the 20,000 accounts it hopes to monitor.

“I’ve got the attorneys and the licensing department opening up 23 states immediately,” Brannon said. “We’ve got 250,000 square feet in two building here, so needless to say, we’ve got plenty of room for expansion.”

Because the central station market is highly competitive, Brannon said, companies that want to offer national service have to offer a lot of “extras” to differentiate themselves.

“Central station competition is incredibly tight. There’s around 13,000 independent alarm dealers and something like 5,000 central stations in the country,” he said. “So the key is to educate the dealers about what we bring to the table.”

One of those extras is Marlin’s video monitoring service, which it has offered since opening for business just over two years ago.

“One of the keys to our success is that from day one, they started doing video monitoring, video verification and video guard tours. They’ve got quite a substantial handle on how to do that and how to do it profitably and successfully,” he said. “We’ve got quite a few success stories of instances where we’ve been able to catch a criminal, which speaks to the credibility that video monitoring does work, it is effective, it curtails bad things from happening to good people.”

Because it costs so much more to gain new customers than to retain an existing base, Brannon said Marlin will offer its dealers and customers add-on services from its sister companies in the Marlin Group (see related story on page 33).

“I used to own a brokerage company and I’ve calculated that it costs 17 times more to have to go out, prospect and find a new customer than it did to keep the old one,” he said. “If you annualize those types of numbers, it’s huge.”

If all goes well for Marlin, Brannon said the company may be in a position for bigger and better things down the road.

“The goal is by 2005 or 2006, maybe we could take this company public if we can stay on target,” he said.

For now, Marlin will focus on controlled growth and helping its dealers grow their businesses by offering everything from funding to discounts on everything from equipment to office supplies, Brannon said.

“We’ll continue to form alliances for anything that a dealer needs to support himself growing, whether it’s more equipment discounts or whatever comes up,” he said. “Slow and steady growth always wins the race.”