Monitoring America declares $60K dividend

The monitoring co-op issues highest payout in its history
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Wednesday, December 1, 2004

TULSA, Okla. - The board of directors at Monitoring America Alarm Co-Op has approved a $60,000 year-end dividend, the highest in the cooperative’s 14-year history.

“It’s a record dividend,” said Ron Weiss, general manager at Monitoring America. “This is one of the major benefits of this co-op.”

Founded in November 1989, Monitoring America is an U.L.-listed central station with 130 members. The co-op charges $5 a month per account and monitors 20,000 accounts nationwide. Membership is open to any company within the security industry.

“If someone is legitimately in the business, the board will vote them in,” said Weiss. The process includes purchasing one share of the co-op for $50, a background check and board approval. Eight new members joined the co-op this year.

Dividends are issued after expenses at the co-op are covered, including payroll for a staff of 17, continual upgrades and mortgage for its building and land. The amount of the dividend distributed to individual shareholders is determined by the volume of business the member does with the central throughout the year.

Since Monitoring America was founded, the only year the company did not pay out a dividend was in 1997. At that time, improvements were underway that included an automation upgrade and a new PBX phone system.

For Neil Brown, owner of Security Protection of Tulsa, one of the original founders of the co-op, the year end pay out is not only an opportunity to lower his monitoring costs, but also a way to fund his hobby.

“The dividend helps me go racing throughout the U.S.,” he said. Brown is a member of the Sports Car Club of America, a non-profit organization for amateur racers.

In the beginning, Brown and a handful of other security companies got together to form a co-op due to the lack of choices for central stations. After learning more about the process, the group starting meeting with other companies in the industry to sell their idea and eventually got the company started.

“One of the main advantages is we would not be supporting one major monitoring company,” he said. In addition to Security Protection of Tulsa, Brown does business under the names of Advanced Protection Technology and Oklahoma Security Design.

Co-op general manager Weiss was one of the people initially approached to join the co-op. Although he thought it was a great idea, he literally bet against it.

“I didn’t believe for half a second that it could survive,” he recalled, noting he joined the company full-time in 1996.

But as the co-op has increased the number of its members and in years, its exposure to risk has decreased and the amount it reimburses its members in the form of a dividend has increased.

“It was tough for the first couple of years,” Brown recalled, but noted that “this is the best decision I made.”

Monitoring America’s fiscal year runs until October 31, and as of the end of September, the firm had $852,000 in revenue.