UTC to resurrect Edwards name
HARTFORD, Conn.—In an announcement that was enthusiastically received by its new fire dealers, UTC Fire & Security has decided to resurrect the vaunted Edwards name.
“I think this is excellent news,” said Irv Weinstein, president of Electrical Technology Inc. in East Northport, N.Y. “I never understood why [GE Security] did away with the Edwards name. It would be like Ford buying Rolls Royce and changing the Rolls Royce name to Ford,” he said. A Vigilant dealer for more than 15 years, Weinstein said he’s witnessed a number of changes with acquisitions during that time. “Edwards is probably the most respected name in the fire industry,” Weinstein added.
Edwards is a legacy brand name that GE Security dropped when it acquired the Edwards business in November 2004. GE acquired Edwards Systems Technology, the fire detection systems business of SPX Corp., for $1.395 billion.
The dealers heard the news about the resurrection of the Edwards brand at a mid-April UTC Fire & Security conference in Las Vegas. UTCFS is announcing the news publicly today.
The dealers also learned that Antonio Cintra, former UTCFS Fire and Security Services Americas president, has been tapped to lead the UTCFS Detection & Alarm (D&A) business.
Post merger, UTCFS is divided into three separate P&Ls, which report to William Brown, president UTC Fire & Security.
Dean Seavers, former president GE Security, became president, Global Fire & Security Services responsible for the service and installation businesses globally. Scott Buckhout, continues as president, Global Fire Products. Mark Barry, former president GE Security Americas, became president, Global Security Products Group representing sales of access control, intrusion, video, key and lock products/solutions.
D&A falls within the Global Fire Products Division. As D&A president, Cintra oversees the newly christened Edwards business in North America and other D&A business globally. The Edwards business includes the dealer-driven EST and Vigilant, Edwards Signalling and Dukane channels.
Happy with the changes is George Stivers, systems division manager for Bergelectric Corporation of Escondido, Calif., who has been an EST strategic partner for 10 years. He said the Edwards name is good for business. “When customers hear Edwards, they know we’re using a top-of-the-line product,” he said.
When the UTC-GE merger was first announced, there was concern expressed, in some quarters, that there may be some channel conflict between the former GE fire dealers and UTC’s direct installation business, which was bolstered in January of 2009 with the purchase of the 13-branch, California-based Detection Logic.
Steve Hein, who came to UTCFS from GE Security, said Bill Brown, Scott Buckhout and others addressed this question directly at the Las Vegas conference
“At the highest level they emphasized that the fire products business and the fire services business are separate. They are managed separately, they are separate P&Ls,” Hein said.
Weinstein and Stivers both said they were not concerned about channel conflict.
“We think that if we treat the customer right they’ll do the right thing. That’s why with our service contracts, we don’t lock people in. We figure if you don’t like us, you have the right to go to someone else,” Weinstein said.
Stivers said he’s watched the integration of Detection Logic into UTCFS in his own backyard, and is reassured that UTCFS can avoid channel conflict.
Dealers who spoke to Security Systems News said they’re confident UTC will invest in the products they need.
Hein said that the UTCFS leadership also clearly articulated another point: “There will be no change in the distribution policy. Dealers will be working with the same sales people they have in the past.”
“We finally have a manufacturer that’s well suited to the fire and security business and will put R&D efforts behind keeping a top-tier product line,” Stivers said.
At the Las Vegas conference, UTCFS rolled out a road map of new products. “The feedback was amazing,” Hein said. “People feel like we’re on the technological forefront ... It’s the largest new product portfolio that we’ve ever had, with innovations on every front: smoke detectors, fire control panels and notification devices.”
The initial investment in the products was made three years ago when Dean Seavers joined GE Security, Hein said. At that time, “the competition was starting to catch up” so Seavers “developed a business plan, hired 50 new engineers ... made a significant investment.” Dealers could see the fruits of that investment in the roadmap Hein said. “It’s one of the reasons UTC acquired us,” he added.
Michael Elsberry, president of A& E Security Electronics Solutions in Mcminnville, Ore., is a Vigilant dealer who works with UTCFS’ fire, security and enterprise businesses. He’s looking forward to UTCFS pulling all of the pieces of the former GE Security together.
“I can’t be happier with the acquisition by UTC, and I can’t be happier with the fire guys. I can only hope the same passion and customer focus that I’ve witnessed on the fire side, will come to the security and enterprise businesses. I hope they find their identity again,” Elsberry said.