SSN Top five stories of 2009

Layoffs, GE Security, Pelco, Door-knocking, APX Alarm & 2GIG Technologies
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine—What were the biggest stories of 2009 at Security Systems News? If it had to do with layoffs, door-knockers in general and APX Alarm specifically, all things Pelco, a new start-up called 2GIG Technologies, or GE Security, you were clicking and reading.

The editors of Security Systems News took a look at the stories that got the most reads and picked out five categories of stories that were sure to attract your attention this year. Below is a look at what interested you most in 2009.

Layoffs: Despite faring better than other industries during this year’s recession, the security industry was not isolated from the layoffs that plagued the rest of the country. In February, ADT laid off 500 workers, which amounted to two percent of its workforce. The layoffs were part of cost containment efforts begun in 2008. During the course of the year, ADT parent company Tyco International expected to increase its restructuring activity in 2009 to a range of $100 million to $150 million. The ADT layoffs were “not across-the-board reductions, but [were] focused primarily on jobs that serve the areas of our business most dramatically affected by the recession,” ADT spokeswoman Ann Lindstrom told Security Systems News.

The ADT layoffs were followed by an announcement in March that UTC layoffs were “likely to affect roughly 750 in North America.” As part of a $750M restructuring effort at UTC, 11,600 people were expected to be laid off across all business units; the company’s Fire & Security businesses in North America stood to lose an estimated 750 jobs.

Door-knockers and APX Alarm: They seemed to come out of the blue in the past four or five years, but there’s no doubt that companies like APX Alarm, now easily among the top alarm companies in the country, and other summer-model (or door-knocking companies as they’re called) are having a big impact on the industry. In November APX “took the final step in becoming a nationwide, full-service security company,” said COO Alex Dunn, when it acquired a central station from CMS, a subsidiary of Protection One, and in December, it drew an enormous crowd for the grand opening of its new corporate campus. Not all of the news about summer-model companies was positive this year, however. In August, ADT and Monitronics sued a number of so-called rogue summer sales people, employees of some major summer-model companies. ADT and Monitronics were joined by several of the summer model companies in calling for a door-knocking code of ethics, expected early in 2010.

Changes at Pelco: Security Systems News’ readers eagerly ate up everything Pelco in 2009. They wanted to know all about Pelco vets’ new venture Acuity and followed developments, and there were many, throughout the year. In January, Pelco announced it would no longer be in the access control business. “[The access control business] represents a very, very small amount of our revenue,” said Dean Meyer, Pelco president and CEO.

In March, Pelco announced the company had “agreed to accept the resignation of four of its manufacturer's representative firms.” Cliff Holtz, Pelco senior VP of sales and marketing for the Americas said rumors that Pelco would be abandoning the manufacturer’s rep model are completely unfounded.

In May, Pelco announced it had consolidated all of its global sales operations and had laid off 17 sales associates. “We will do our utmost to support those affected employees with extended notice, severance pay, outplacement, and counseling services,” Meyer said.

2GIG Technologies: What about 2GIG Technologies? Unheard of last year, 2GIG was founded by Honeywell vets Scott Simon and Lance Dean. The company emerged at ISC West this year with its Go!Control security system. It announced products, partnerships, and in October it scored a big deal to provide its alarm panel to APX Alarm—and APX’s estimated 150,000 new accounts—for the summer of 2010. The company says it’s business as usual, but may have had its momentum slowed by a lawsuit, filed in November by Honeywell alleging that 2GIG Technologies is infringing on its patent. Counterclaims were filed by 2GIG, but a final decision on the case may be months away.

GE Security: Perhaps the hottest of the red hots this year was GE Security. Security Systems News’ readers came in record numbers to read about the sale, and other developments, at GE Security. In April, before news of the sale, GE decided to reverse an earlier decision to abandon Personal Emergency Response Systems and jump back into PERS. GE and Intel Corp. announced an alliance to research, develop and market home-based health technologies. By August, rumors were flying that GE Security was for sale. GE Enterprise Solutions communications manager Michelle May said, “GE does not comment on rumors and speculation.” She did not, however, say GE Security was not for sale. And then in November the much-rumored UTC/GE Security deal neared fruition when UTC announced an agreement to buy GE Security for $1.82 billion. “This is a perfect strategic fit for Fire & Security,” said Ari Bousbib, president, commercial companies, at UTC. The deal still awaits regulatory approvals, expected in 2010.