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This has the makings of a cage match

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
So, on Friday afternoon (surprisingly, a big time for news in security) I got the press release regarding the dates and location for PSA-TEC 2010. Mostly, though, I focused on the location, since the former location, the Pheasant Run, where I've had the pleasure of attending PSA-TEC the last three years, is, let's say, less than modern (actually, on the web site, they make it look pretty good - I guess it's not terrible or anything, just really brown). Also, it's like an hour from O'Hare and you have to rent a car to get there, etc. So, boy was I pleased to see this news:
PSA Security Network announced today that PSA-TEC 2010 will be held at The Rosemont Convention Center in Rosemont, IL on June 14 – 18, 2010. The Rosemont Convention Center is conveniently located just five minutes from Chicago’s O'Hare Airport and will provide updated facilities in a single building to host education, networking, and trade show events, as well as provide available space for PSA-TEC to grow.
I mean, really: Huzzah! Seriously, check it out. But then my attention was drawn more closely to those dates. Haven't I seen those dates before? Well, yes I have: They are the dates of ESX 2010, in the lovely city of Pittsburgh! (And I don't use exclamation points loosely.) It seems like that would create a little competition, no? The attendees might be somewhat disparate, as ESX tends to attract those companies with central stations and more residentially focused firms, while PSA members tend to be commercially focused systems integrators, but what about the vendors who support both of those conferences? Where is Pelco going to send its RV? Will companies be able to exhibit in both places? Will vendors be able to offer training in both places? Will industry publications like ours be able to cover both events? It's a conundrum in these offices, for sure. Those are two of our favorite events of the year, with both offering huge swaths of content for our readers. So, where will people go? I'm hoping it's settled via cage match, much like this classic from 1983 where Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka lost to the unheralded Bob Backlund when he attempted a jump from the top of the cage in Madison Square Garden. Watch the below, and imagine the two combatants are Bill Bozeman and Mike Miller. Who would you put your money on?

Brink's: Back in the game

Friday, September 4, 2009
It's late on a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, but didn't want this to wait. It looks like the Brink's Company isn't ready to give up on integrated security systems, and may even be preparing to compete in the very commercial security sector that its spin-off, Broadview, has been ramping up efforts to attack. Today, Brink's announced the acquisition of a majority stake in ICD, a commercial integrator with 200 employees and offices throughout Asia, for $12 million. The press release doesn't mention U.S. offices, but I believe it's the same ICD that I wrote about early last year:
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla.—ICD Security Solutions, a security systems integrator with headquarters in Beijing, opened its first U.S. offices here in September. It is the fifth country in which the company has established operations, joining China, India, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
Sounds pretty similar to the company Brink's just bought:
ICD designs, installs, maintains and manages high-quality commercial security systems. With principal operations in China, ICD also has offices in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Australia.
But a little different... I'll try to figure it all out. It's kind of conspicuous that there isn't one of those "About ICD" paragraphs for a web site listed for the company on the press release that Brink's put out. I'm pretty sure it's this ICD, and here is the U.S. sales office (seems like they moved to West Palm). But why wouldn't Brink's mention the U.S. presence? I guess it's just a small part of the company, but the company only does $12 million in revenue, so it's not like any one office is huge for them. Maybe they don't want to be too overt about the fact they'll be competing with Broadview? Regardless, it's clear Brink's liked the electronic security market all along and the big question now is how heavily they get back in.

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.