Pro One shifts bulk of accounts to Wichita

Friday, February 1, 2002

TOPEKA, KAN.-Protection One said in December that it scaled back operations at its Irving, Texas, central station and moved the bulk of the company's accounts to its Wichita facility, the final step in a plan to consolidate the company's monitoring operations.

About 740,000 of the company's 1.2 million accounts are now monitored through the Wichita facility, which has been remodeled to handle the additional account volume as well as other changes to make operations run more smoothly, said Richard Ginsburg, president and chief executive officer.

With the transfer of 240,000 accounts from the Irving central station to Wichita comes the elimination of about 270 jobs in Irving, although a number of employees are considering relocating, Ginsburg said. In all, the company will loose about 150 positions when taking into account positions added at the Wichita facility.

"There will obviously be economic efficiencies, number one, but more importantly there will be operating efficiencies in both centers." Ginsburg said. "We'll be able to manage our customer base better with fewer facilities."

The Wichita central station, which now houses about 600 employees, also features a call center that handles both outbound sales and in bound service calls, as well as a branch office that services about 10,000 local customers. The interior of the 70,000 square-foot building was renovated to make better use of the existing space.

The company also plans to make changes to its Portland, Maine centralstation, which will handle most of the company's commercial accounts. Renovations at that facility will include converting that center to a MAS monitoring platform, the company's last central station to necessitate that change. The Portland facility will handle most of Protection One's high-end commercial accounts that require specialized fire monitoring, Ginsburg said. That facility will handle less than 100,000 accounts. These changes were expected to be complete in mid-January.

Administration and account monitoring for the company's Network Multifamilyunit, which has about 300,000 accounts, will be relocated to the Irving facility. Some renovations to the 75,000 square foot facility were necessary to house the new operations.

Industry analyst Jack Mallon said that the consolidation of Protection One's facilities is consistent with Ginsburg's objectives to cut costs and streamline operations there.

"His thrust has been to cut excess costs and to make operations as efficient as possible," Mallon said. "This is one of many things he has done to enhance shareholder value."

Since being named as president in spring of 2001, the company's stock value has risen from its starting point of 88 cents in January of 2001 to $2.50 at the end of that year, for a "very hefty" 184 percent increase in value, Mallon said.