VES to open full-service central

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Monday, December 1, 2008

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.--VES Fire Protection Systems (formerly Viking Electronic Services) has told its dealers it will soon announce the opening of its own UL-listed central station, offering a full range of monitoring services. All VES accounts now being outsourced for monitoring will be switched to the VES Monitoring and Data Center as the company trains its staff and completes refitting and upgrading of their current facility.

VES director of sales Andy Johannsen said that the VES Monitoring and Data Center was due to be up and running in November. “The entire staff is hired, and we’re on our second wave of staff trainings,” he said at press time.

Asked why VES decided to begin doing its own monitoring for its existing dealers rather than outsource it, Johannsen said it all came down to service: “The only way to service our customers properly was to do the monitoring ourselves.”

Johannsen said that initially the VES Monitoring and Data Center would provide monitoring primarily for its own fire alarms systems sold by its dealers. However, plans are in place to move into wholesale monitoring, including security alarm monitoring, as well. “We’re putting effort into the infrastructure and the training program. I’ve had them join the CSAA and we were already SIA members. We’re putting all the operators through the training courses and we’re going through the Five Diamond Certification. I wanted to be a central station that’s a model central station industry-wide. And along with that, we realize that we need to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 of RMR for the business to break even, so we’re going to be in the wholesale monitoring business.”

Johannsen said that while VES will not be attempting to compete with the big names in the industry, he does expect the company to grow, beginning in the Southeast. “Initially, I’ll be targeting dealers in southeastern Virginia, South Jersey, Delaware, Maryland. We certainly will be offering other types of monitoring to our existing dealers, including any security that they have.”

Johannsen stressed that the key to VES’ expansion into truly full-service monitoring, as opposed to the fire-only monitoring its done in the past, will be preparedness. “We’ve got some pretty good receiver technology and we’ve got some IP capability, but initially we’ll be adding things on as we go,” he said. “We’ve got potential to be doing a decent amount of personal medical monitoring, but we’re going to make sure that we have the two-way audio infrastructure in place before we tackle that, because we haven’t done any audio in the past.”