Security 101 hits lucky 13

Integrator franchisor looks to have 20 offices by 2010, 101 by 2013
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

MARIETTA, Ga.--What began as a reorganization at the suggestion of an accountant has grown into a 13-franchise operation for Security 101, a commercial systems integrator headquartered here and with franchise locations popping up all over the Southwest. The company joins a growing list of new franchisors working in the security marketplace, including MonitorClosely.com, EYESthere, and SightMind.

Begun as Security One Systems in 1990, the company licensed the name to Chris Wise and Chris Paris for a second office here in Atlanta, then sold in 2005 to Ingersoll Rand, forcing the Atlanta Security One to become Security 101. While Security One co-founder Jim Pasquarello and former president Steve Crespo waited out non-compete clauses, Rich Montalvo left Honeywell to move to Florida and “said he wanted to use the Security 101 name,” said Crespo. “And then over a year and a half, two other offices did the same thing.”

Suddenly, the company was behaving like a franchise, “and the accountant and the lawyer said, ‘You need to stop operating that way or become a registered franchise,’” said Crespo. “So they did their due diligence and saw it could be a good thing.” As Wise and Paris spent 2007 registering with the federal government, Pasquarello and Crespo’s non-competes expired, and they each bought 25 percent of the company, setting themselves up as COO and president, respectively, and running the franchising side of the business as Security Franchisors, LLC.

“In the beginning of 2008, there was a total of five franchises,” said Crespo, “including the one Chris and Chris started, and that still is where we keep our headquarters, then there was Charlotte, Mobile, Birmingham, and South Florida. And we just announced our 13th franchise. Not too shabby for guys who don’t know the franchise world, but I know some people who are in the business and they say we’re better off that way.”

For example, unlike many franchisors who try to attract savvy businesspeople from outside the industry (this was an approach espoused by MonitorClosely.com to this reporter, for example), “we’re not offering any franchises to anybody outside of the industry,” Crespo said.

He said an outsider model makes sense for residential applications, for example, but commercial integration “is a difficult and challenging industry, and the last thing we want to do is take someone who’s worked in health care and try to train them up in our industry. We research A players in the industry, guys who have strong sales and technical backgrounds, and who’ve been working with companies for a long time and are ready to step out and do their own business.”

The initial buy-in is $25,000, and then franchises pay a royalty based on revenue. Security Franchisors then helps with everything needed for start-up and continuing operations, from finding an office location to bulk purchasing to making decisions on personnel.