Trans-Alarm grows from Twin Cities base

Friday, June 1, 2007

BURNSVILLE, Minn.--With positive results rolling in from its first acquisition in late 2006, Trans-Alarm, a primarily commercial integrator based here and serving the Twin Cities market, is looking to keep growing. Part of Trans-American Security Service, which also owns power-operated door manufacturer Automated Entrance Products and recapitalized with new partner Arctic Capital in the summer of 2006, the privately held Trans-American is looking primarily for integrators currently using third-party monitoring and installing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market to add to Trans-Alarm.
Trans-Alarm's first acquisition, of Northern Alarm, based in Prior Lake, Minn., was "relatively small," said chief executive officer Terry Mullett, but "it's really practice for us. It's part of our growth plan to make good, quality acquisitions, and we learn as we go. All in all it was a good experience and as good as we anticipated."
Part of that is due to former owner Gary Linner's long-time friendship with Trans-Alarm founder Dave Smith. Linner got his start with Trans-Alarm and, after a number of years running his own firm, "he wanted to retire," said Mullett. "He made us aware of that, and we made him aware that we were looking to grow through acquisitions and we came to an agreement. He was extremely good at the transition and helpful. Our focus was to control attrition, which is always a potential problem, and it was very minimal. Part of that was [Linner's] support of us and getting the word out to customers. I expected there to be some bumps in the road ... but that hasn't been the case."
Northern provided a "good mix of commercial and residential" accounts, but Mullett said Trans-Alarm is only really interested in the commercial side of the alarm business. In future buys, "a higher percentage of commercial would be more advantageous," he said. "That's where our expertise is. But we realize there's a mix and I think we'll learn something about the residential marketplace. Not that we've never been there, just that we've developed our expertise in commercial."