Nelson buys two in Indiana

Ideal acquisition? You know it when you see it
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS—Nelson Alarm Company made two acquisitions this month, adding 1,750 accounts and a senior staffer to its 20-person shop.

Bill Nelson, president of Nelson Alarm, said he’d “been after these two operations for a long time,” saying they were “high quality operators with above-average accounts.”

Nelson Alarm is a full-service security company that’s 50-50 residential and commercial although, these two acquisitions tip the account balance to about 60 percent residential, and bring Nelson’s account total to 5,600. The company’s geographic footprint is central Indiana, though he does security for “one major chain that takes us to 10-12 states.”

Nelson purchased the alarm division of Integrated Home Technologies. While it divested its alarm business, IHT, based here, will continue to install high-end audio, video and home-theater systems. Nelson also acquired 750 accounts from Apple Audio and Alarm. One of Apple’s former owners, Mike Haworth is retiring, while Gus Apple the other owner, joined the Nelson Alarm team.

“Always looking,” is the way Nelson described his acquisition strategy. “We’re definitely buyers,” he said. “We’ve probably absorbed close to 10 or 12 small companies.”

Nelson is not new to the alarm business—Nelson Alarm has been in existence since 1991. “I sold a company in 1986, but I had a five-year non-compete,” Nelson said.

What does he look for in an acquisition? His partner, who has a background in investments, takes care of the due diligence, while Nelson, who began his career as an alarm technician, investigates elsewhere.

It’s just a matter of taking a close look at some installations, he said.

“We go look at a few accounts, check out the quality of the installation, we talk to the customers ... and we know.”