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Canon pulls out of ASIS

Friday, September 4, 2009
I've actually never had this happen before: I got a call from a PR agency asking if I'd like to meet with Canon at ASIS. I'd seen them a little bit at ESX, and they talked about making a much bigger commitment to security, so I said, "sure." I made an appointment for 10:30 a.m. to meet with Kevin McCarthy at booth #359. (I'd link to a map of the show floor so you could see where and how big that booth is, but ASIS doesn't provide such a feature.) Anyhoo, I just got a call on this lovely Friday before the Labor Day weekend from the same PR guy: "Hey Sam" (this is not an actual transcript) "while Canon NVS is expanding its marketing and advertising in the security space to support its exciting new product launch September 9, Canon has decided not to visit ASIS. So, the time you've got scheduled to talk with them you can now use to peruse the ASIS show floor." Huh? Three weeks before the show and they pull out? With a big product announcement to support? I've had people blow me off for appointments and just not show up, but I've never had an appointment say, "sorry, we won't actually be there."

Salient Systems making a play?

Friday, September 4, 2009
I really don't know much about Salient Systems, but a release they put out this week just caught my eye:
Salient Systems Corporation, a leading provider of advanced, network friendly video management software solutions announces the expansion of their national sales presence with the appointment of Christopher Meiter, as Director of Sales - Midwest; Phillip Heydt, Regional Sales Manager - Southeast and Kenneth Frank, Regional Sales Manager - West Coast. They will be responsible for all business development in key vertical markets, integrator recruitment, and development of strategic accounts.
I know, I know: Who cares about regional sales-guy hires at a manufacturer you've never heard of (despite their assurances that they're a "leading provider")? Well, they must be doing something right - they've got to have a bit of cash on hand and some good technology to lure they guys from their last jobs: Mr. Meiter recently served as Director of Business Development at Honeywell Video. Mr. Heydt recently served as National Account Manager at Diebold. Mr. Frank recently served as Regional Sales Manager at Honeywell Integrated Security. I've heard of all of those companies, certainly. Who knows what those titles really mean, and who knows if they left of their own accord or got asked to leave? Still, it made me notice Salient and I'll be paying attention to see what they do next.

Why that Trustmark thingee matters

Friday, September 4, 2009
Not sure how many people have seen the article on CompTIA's new Security Trustmark, administered by none other than Security Dreamer Steve Hunt, but today I ran across a case in point. Apparently, the cops in Plymouth Township, Pa., just caught a guy they think has committed 40 or so burglaries. Ho hum. Crooks are everywhere. If they weren't, you'd all be out of business. But then there's this:
Sources tell Fox News Mack is a former employee of a security company that was hired to guard corporate centers. He had access to the security codes that gave him access to the buildings where some of the burglaries occurred.
Does your company have a policy about what happens when an employee leaves? What information was that employee privy to? What customers could be compromised if that employee should decide he'd rather be a criminal than a security company employee? If I were a corporate client, that would be one of the first things I'd ask of a security company - what happens when one of your guys gets fired? I'm guessing CompTIA's new certification addresses that kind of thing. You show the Trustmark, you don't get asked the question (assuming the end user knows what a Trustmark is - that's going to take a while).

The smartest thing Diebold's done in a while

Thursday, September 3, 2009
Things have been fairly quiet on the Diebold front since they turned down UTX's bid to buy them and finally got some long-awaited earnings numbers out. Lately, they've been pumping up the fact that they're 150 years old and are ringing the NYSE opening bell. Whoopety-do! (Sorry, I'm sure that's a big deal.) But, the news today that they're selling their elections division to their rivals ES&S is a great move for their security division and the company as a whole. Whether it made money or not, whether their technology was good or not, that thing was an albatross that created nothing but headaches and bad press (check this story out, if you don't believe me, and that's Information Week, not some rogue blog (not that all blogs are rogues)). Now the company is a pure-play security company (ATMs can be called security, in a way) and can focus on that mission exclusively. It comes with a price-tag, though:
Diebold has agreed to sell its elections systems business for $5 million in cash plus future cash payments representing 70% of any cash collected on the outstanding U.S. election systems business accounts receivable as of August 31, 2009. As a result of this transaction, Diebold expects to recognize a pre-tax loss in the range of $45 million to $55 million. The pre-tax loss includes the assets and liabilities of the business, certain retained legal liabilities, and other transaction costs. This business will be reported as a discontinued operation. Excluding the impact of this divestiture, Diebold's full-year earnings per share outlook for 2009 remains unchanged.
Ouch. They must have really wanted to get rid of that, huh?
In 2008, Premier generated $88.2 million in revenue, or 2.8 percent of Diebold's total reported revenue for the year.
They sold $88 million in revenue for $5 million? Double ouch. Still, good to have it off their chests.

So who's gonna 'revolutionize third party monitoring?'

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
My publisher Tim Purpura and I just got back from the inaugural Rapid Response Users Group in Verona, N.Y. What a time. Everyone I spoke to at the event had the same impression: that the event was a well-oiled machine and that Rapid really was there to support it's dealers and integrators. One attendee even went so far as to tell me, basically, (I'm paraphrasing) "this may look like a whole lot of showing off, but it's not. Jeff Atkins backs it up." The impression I got was that Rapid would do whatever it could to curtail turnover in it's central station, provide new applications and services as dealer differentiators, lower costs, and improve service. Overall, it was a well-done event with lots of staff from RR and AE ventures--who did PR and event planning and execution--checking in to be sure everyone had everything they needed. I got to sit down with RR president Jeff Atkins and chairman and CEO Russ MacDonnell and Secure Global Solutions' VPs Hank Goldberg and Thom Meyer to discuss what Goldberg said was a "15-year quest to get Rapid as a client." Atkins used his welcome breakfast address to announce that Rapid was in the process (projected to be complete in early 2010) of converting to the stages central station monitoring platform. Atkins went so far as to say the "synergy of Rapid Response and stages will revolutionize third party monitoring." I chuckled a little and he just said "You watch. You just watch us." We're watching. Check out the Rapid Response Users Group site for more material from the RRUG.

That's the way to step up

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Just a little story I came across on the web today: Hi-Tech, out of Houston, helped out a youth center that's been victimized frequently lately by donating some surveillance equipment. Well done. Great magnanimous quote, too:
"It just touched me that I had the opportunity to do something about it," said Eric Cooley, Vice Principal of Hi-Tech Integrated Solutions.
I know you guys do stuff like this all the time, but it's good to see the local news types appreciate it.

Bruce Springle, dead at 46

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I never met Bruce Springle, but he's had a long career in the security industry and I wanted to pass along news of his death. According to his obituary, he died August 25, leaving behind his wife Linda and two children, daughters Emily and Rebecca. Most recently, he was working as a regional sales manager for Mace, and Mace sent out a nice note alerting me to his death:
Bruce Springle had been involved in the security industry for over 20 years and had extensive experience in alarm monitoring, video surveillance and access control business segments. In addition to Mace, Mr. Springle worked for several excellent security companies including Guardian Protection Services, Monitronics, JCI/Cardkey and ADT. ... Dennis Raefield, CEO of Mace Security International, Inc. stated, “We are very saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of Bruce Springle. He was highly regarded in the industry and by everyone at Mace. Our prayers go out to his wife and family. ”
According to the obit, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bruce Springle Memorial Fund, f/b/o his children, c/o The Bank, 315 S. Black Horse Pike, Williams-town, NJ 08094; or American Red Cross, 5425 Route 70 West, Penn-sauken, NJ 08109. Expressions of sympathy can be e-mailed to: [email protected].

Tips on "switchover sales" from Pinnacle

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
One of my favorite things to do is surf You Tube for alarm company news. You too? Have you seen this trilogy? The titles in parentheses are mine. Switchover Sales Technique Part I: Part I (Engaging the MAN of the house) Switchover Sales Technique Part II: ("Is there a fire or is your wife burnin' the food?) Switchover Sales Technique Part III (If for any reason you can't pay the $39.99 a month, you'll still be responsible for it. I wouldn't worry about that.) It's a three-part instructional video, starring Scott Warner of Pinnacle Security about how to talk customers into switching from their alarm company to Pinnacle. This Scott Warner is some kind of fast-talkin' sales guy! And the homeowner, who looks a little like Will Ferrell don't you think?, is pretty easily convinced to do stuff. I love the pitch on installing smoke detectors. "Over the two-way voice, they'll ask ya, 'Is there a fire or is your wife burnin' the food?" That's what he says: "Your wife burnin' the food?" He also asks the homeowner if he's the "man of the house." I haven't heard this kind of banter since the last time I watched "Leave it to Beaver" on Jet Blue. And when it comes to contract time, the homeowner wanted to know if if he can get out of the contract if he can't pay the monthly fee? Well, Scott says, he's gonna give the homeowner the "three-year corporate agreement" and that, yeah, he'll still be liable for the whole contract no matter what, but "I wouldn't worry about that." And that line of reasoning convinced the homeowner to sign up with Scott. Maybe the homeowner is Will Ferrell? Does Scott's name sound familiar? It did to me too. That's because Scott Warner was one of the "rogue summer sales people" sued by ADT last month. I've got a call into Pinnacle to see if Video Trainer Scott Warner and Lawsuit Scott Warner are one and the same. "Lawsuit Scott Warner" is VP of Sales for Pinnacle and is accused by ADT of summer-sales mischief (telling a customer that Pinnacle was taking over the monitoring of ADT) in Illinois. The lawsuit says that Scott had a "trainee" with him at the time.

Pelco merges with Crockett

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I don't have many details because I learned of this via Twitter: "Message from Dean Meyer: Crockett International merges with Pelco. Effective immediately, all Crockett personnel are Pelco employees." This would be the Twitter drawback - I know just enough to know that I need to know more. So now I've got to go look around. This is Crockett. Here's the release from Pelco. Beware of the pdf that's going to make you download. Anyway, the gist of it is that Crockett was their manufacturer's rep in Asia/Central America:
According to Pelco President and CEO Dean Meyer, this merger will benefit customers in Asia and Latin America by providing them the assurance of Pelco’s lasting commitment. “Sales projections clearly indicate that Asia and Latin America are key emerging markets for the video industry. As such, acquiring Crockett International is a logical step that will allow Pelco to better leverage the combined resources in order to create a larger and more efficient sales team over time.”
So, basically, it's irrelevant to you, my North American readers. Still, cool to find out something I give a crap about via Twitter. If you want to follow Pelco, go here. If you want to follow me, go here.

Vuance update

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Some of you may remember that Vuance had some questions about whether it could remain a going concern, so I thought I'd give you an update now that their 2Q numbers are out. They've been posted here. They say they're getting close to cash-flow positive, but here are the numbers:
Revenues for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 decreased 30.9% to $3.7 million from $5.3 million in the year-ago second quarter. The decrease was largely driven by a decrease in revenues from the airport security project that was nearly completed during second quarter 2009 as well as a delay in revenues of over $200,000 that is expected to be recognized in third quarter 2009.
That's sort of a big decrease in revenues and shows how project-driven the company is. There are not a lot of small deals going down - it's all or nothing. Luckily, they recently announced a $5 million deal with a family-run company that packages vegetables.
Eyal Tuchman, Chief Executive Officer of VUANCE Ltd., commented, "Demand for our expertise remained strong across our entire business, with particular strength in government and public safety sectors. We are active in bidding projects financed by government funds, and believe these projects will become revenue-generating beginning in the second half of this year and throughout 2010. Excluding sales related to the airport in Eastern Europe, revenues across our business increased both sequentially and year-over-year.
So, other than the huge block of revenue that's not there anymore, revenues increased? Okay.
Gross profit decreased 32.0% to $2.2 million for the second quarter compared to $3.2 million for the prior-year second quarter. Gross profit margin for the quarter was 59.2%, compared to the 60.1% for the second quarter of 2008. Total operating expenses for the quarter were $2.8 million, down 8.6% sequentially compared to the $3.1 million for the first quarter 2009 and down 37.3% compared to the $4.5 million for the second quarter last year. The Company reported a loss from operations for the quarter of $647,000 compared sequentially to a loss from operations of $744,000 and down 50.2% compared to the $1.3 million for the second quarter last year.
So, they did $3.7 million in revenue and lost $647,000. That doesn't seem particularly sustainable.
The net loss from continuing operations was $819,000, or $(0.15) per basic and diluted share, compared sequentially to a net loss from continuing operations of $875,000, or $(0.17) per basic and diluted share, for the three months ended March 31, 2009 and compared with a net loss from continuing operations of $1.6 million, or $(0.30) per basic and diluted share, in the second quarter of 2008.
So, actually, they lost more than that. I'm foggy on the difference between loss from operations and net loss from continuing operations. Maybe the latter accounts for debt service? I should probably know that. Anyway, how did they spin the overall results?
Non-GAAP operational losses continued to narrow substantially. On a non-GAAP basis (see reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP results at the end of this press release) the Company reported a non-GAAP operating loss of $267,000 in the second quarter of 2009 compared sequentially to a non-GAAP operating loss of $481,000 in the first quarter of 2009 and compared to a non-GAAP operating loss of $984,000 in the second quarter last year.
Wow! Non-GAAP operational losses continued to narrow? Why didn't you say so in the first place? Oh, that's right, you did say that first. I just kind of chose to ignore it. Whenever I see "non-GAAP," I read, "non-real."