Paragon steps up accounts

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Friday, October 1, 2004

ALBANY, Ore. - When an opportunity to increase its account base through acquisition arose, Paragon Monitoring Center seized that occasion - even if it only happens once every four years.

In June, the wholesale monitoring firm completed a deal through its alarm installation business, Security Alarm Company, which brought 140 mostly residential accounts into the fold. The terms of the deal and the name of the company that owned the accounts was not disclosed.

Such an acquisition “doesn’t come around that often,” according to Jeff Martin, who serves as operations manager, and whose brother Micheal owns the company. But when they have acquired other companies, the deals usually involve a local firm, as was the case with this most recent transaction.

In addition to keeping his eyes and ears open for potential deals, Martin said a number of other events have brought business to his doorstep. Most recently, an unnamed dealer from California approached the company about purchasing his firm’s account base and talks are ongoing.

But no other event has benefited business more than UL-approval in November 2001. Since that time, according to Martin, the company’s account base has doubled. “It’s because we’re UL-listed,” he said. At that time, the company registered the Paragon name and began marketing third-party monitoring services.

Paragon’s residential accounts number about 60 percent of its overall monitoring business, and its geographical focus is on the states of California, Montana, Oregon and Washington, although Martin said he is open to moving beyond those borders.

“I’m not opposed to monitoring accounts beyond the western region,” Martin said.

However, he sees value in being close to his customers and he believes there’s value in his customers being in close contact with him. “I tell all dealers that I’m available 24/7, regardless.”

On the surface, it may appear that Paragon is looking to grow its monitoring business exponentially over the next few years. But Martin does not dedicate much to advertising, and he said he has spent less on national marketing than marketing near his location in Albany and throughout Oregon. He pointed out that his overhead is low - the company owns its building - so money is not the issue.

“We can afford to grow the central slowly, which was my intent from the beginning,” he said. In the event the company grew too big, too fast, he wants “to maintain a personal touch with dealers.” It’s a problem he has seen other companies experiencing.

Some firms add many accounts and dealers all at once, which causes dealers with small accounts to get lost in the shuffle. “I think that’s one of the downfalls” of expanding too fast, he said.