NAV takes on equity partners

Halifax Group acquires integrator; Freschi retains ownership stake
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

BRICK, N.J.--North American Video, one of the largest private systems integrators in the security space, took advantage of private equity's continuing interest in the security space by agreeing to an acquisition by the Halifax Group in late January. Financial details were not released, but Cynthia Freschi, NAV founder and chief executive officer, will retain a significant stake in the company and continue to serve with the existing senior management team.
"We have had an amazing run," said Freschi in an email interview, "and this feels like a very natural next stop for NAV. It is nice to be in a position where you feel like you have achieved something with your business, but yet still have a lot more to accomplish. And it is certainly nice to have the rocket fuel at our disposal to enhance our growth. It is still business as usual at NAV, however. All of our employees are still with the company, so our customers will be able to continue to work with the same teams going forward."
Jud Hill, a managing director at Halifax, said via email that, "NAV is clearly a leader in the video surveillance industry, with the scale and expertise advantages of a firm that serves the largest, most sophisticated users of video technology ... Their relationships with OEMs, and product knowledge thereof, allow NAV to present its clients with the most state-of-the-art 'tool box' to address each project. We believe that the video surveillance market will continue to expand at a rapid clip and that NAV's leadership position will allow it to grow as fast, if not faster, than the industry."
Freschi said NAV began partnering with Halifax even before the formal acquisition was consummated and that the two enjoyed several years of the "courting process." Thus, she saw firsthand how "Halifax has worked with a host of other growing businesses like NAV. And they have offered resources and perspectives to help us sustain our expansion, while continuing to serve our customers in the highest quality manner possible. It is also nice to have a partner to share risk with in executing our growth plan and who has additional reserves to invest." She feels that other companies could benefit from such equity partners, as they present new opportunities for growth.
Hill felt "other firms like Halifax are observing the same dynamics that we have found attractive in the industry. Specifically, we believe that video surveillance and security applications will continue to be in high demand--both in good economic times and bad. Due to the increasing complexity of most installations these days, the role of the integrator in these industries becomes ever more important. For investors looking at the video surveillance and/or security industries, backing a leading integrator may be a good place to participate in the growth opportunity. There will also be plenty of investors interested in backing a variety of next-generation hardware and software solutions."