Raefield to remake Mace

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HORSHAM, Penn.--After just a few weeks on the job at Mace Security International, new chief executive officer Dennis Raefield is putting his industry experience to work in revamping what has been a troubled company. Committing to return the company to profitability by the end of 2009, he outlined plans in an interview with Security Systems News to purchase a third-party central station, use that to support a robust new professional dealer program, add burglar alarm and access control products to its manufacturing line, and to rid the company of its car wash business by the first quarter of 2009.
Raefield, who has high-level executive experience with Pinkerton's, Honeywell, and most recently Reach Systems, was brought to the Mace board of directors by activist shareholders looking for a change at the top in October 2007. After the removal of Lou Paolino, the board began a search for a new chief executive officer. Quickly, the board concluded Raefield was the man for the job, though he was happy in California and happy with Reach, a manufacturer of IP access and video products.
However, "Mace was an opportunity to move to a public company, the one thing I haven't done," Raefield said. "It was very difficult for me to leave Reach ... I helped them replace me, and I think they're going to succeed--and I may even sell their product if I can get it into Mace. I'm not any less enthused about their company." He even retained a seat on the Reach board.
Now, said Raefield, Mace will focus on "protection ... security and personal defense in a broader sense," bringing together its Mace pepper spray business with its current video surveillance-focused business, but also adding burglar, life-safety, and access control products to create a dealer program not unlike Honeywell's First Alert program.
"I saw how they did that while I was at Honeywell," he said. "I want to do that for a level lower, for younger and smaller companies that want to professionalize with a brand that doesn't compete with them. I'm not going to be out selling Mace installation services." He noted Mace already has more than 800 dealers, but that they can be made much more loyal through a better dealer program.
Of course, that entails buying a third-party central station. Raefield said he's looking "for a quality, third-party central that's used to doing commercial business as well as residential, and open to managed access and managed video, like what we were doing at Reach. I believe strongly that's the future of the industry ... It needs to have a good IP-based infrastructure and good management that wants to stay in place."
Raefield plans to finance the purchase with funds from the 14 remaining Mace car washes.