Universal's ProGuard buy comes with video monitoring contracts

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

SANTA ANA, Calif.—Universal Protection Services was in early on the emerging trend of guard firms increasing their abilities in electronic security. As G4S (here and here) and Andrews, for example, have both lately emphasized their desires to better coordinate their guarding and electronic security operations, Universal Protection began its Systems division in 1999, after having founded its guarding operations in 1965. Currently, the company does about $300 million in revenue, with roughly five percent of that in installation. The installations, however, are a gateway to attractive RMR opportunities.

“We started that really as part of our guard service,” said Steve Jones, co-CEO. “Now it’s a separate division. It’s a different sales process. We do the card access, the cameras, and we’ve built this customer service center.” The central station wasn’t built with alarms in mind, however, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the acquisition of ProGuard, a 500-officer operation that put Universal into the Texas market for the first time, came with some attractive video monitoring contracts.

“They have several clients using remote video monitoring,” said Jones, “and they were outsourcing that, so we’ll be taking that over into our central station.”

Jones said Universal also transferred over last year to SureView’s Immix platform, and has now integrated video analytics into the video monitoring operation it’s been operating for more than 10 years. This has made video monitoring vastly more efficient, Jones said. “We were triggering off of motion alarms before,” he said. “We’d put them inside the back door, the motion alarm would trigger, then the camera would go on ... It didn’t function outside at all. You could only use it internally, which wouldn’t prevent that copper theft issue, for example. Now, all of a sudden, with analytics, you can build this virtual fence. You can dial it down to what you want to be notified for.”

Jones agreed that the merger of guarding and technology capabilities was a trend in the industry. “More and more companies are jumping into it,” Jones said. “Pinkerton had that, but then Securitas spun it off [it’s now Niscayah]. It’s a totally different business, but I think, combined, the synergies that the customer gets are tremendous. It takes discipline to be able to run two different companies, but combined together ... It comes down to: Are you able to deliver a total solution to your clients? That’s what they’re looking for, especially in today’s economic conditions. They like the one-stop shop. By using one company for multiple services, I’d argue they’re getting a better value.”