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CSAA meeting draws crowd

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

More than a month in advance, CSAA’s hotel block for its annual meeting sold out. Talking with Elizabeth Lasko, the organization’s VP of marketing and communications, this booking was faster than in previous years and AHJ presence alongside expanded educational sessions might be why. The meeting will be held in Sonoma, Calif., Oct. 10-14.

“We are pleased to have sixteen representatives from AHJ organizations attending, our largest representation in several years,” Lasko said, which includes Chiefs of Police, State Fire Marshall and Sheriff organizations. These groups have time both by themselves and with the CSAA members, she said. “They’ve got their own unique challenges that they want to alarm industry to be aware of, and we’re working hard to build those relationships.”

“We think that we’ve done a good job listening to the members who said they want to see a ramped-up education program,” Lasko told me. “[Members have] responded by signing up early and in high numbers.”

The meeting has three featured speakers, covering topics such as cybersecurity as it pertains to alarm monitoring, and understanding different people and personalities. Lasko also pointed to a session on understanding what current health care trends mean for employers as a key benefit for attendees.

There is still space for more attendees at the meeting; they would just need to make other hotel accommodations.

Here comes ISC East!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

 I hope everyone has had a great summer! I know I have. Too short here in the Northeast, of course, but it’s always fabulous.

And here comes ISC East! Just weeks away, Nov. 18-19. The SIA-sponsored show in the Big Apple promises to provide “insights, education” and information about “the latest products, technologies and services” in security.

There will be more than 200 exhibitors, including 50 companies new to the show, according to SIA, not to mention educational sessions, networking opportunities and more. 

Look out for my exec ed, Martha Entwistle, while you're there. If you have any great story tips on resi security, pass them along to her and she'll pass them along to me. I'm always lookin for trend articles, stories about companies growing, expanding their territorty and so forth. Just give me a shout! 

Where integrators can go for cybersecurity advice, expertise

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Researching cybersecurity is eye-opening, PSA Security Network CEO Bill Bozeman told me during a recent call about PSA's cybersecurity program, which is moving into its second year.

Bozeman said that "when and if" a cybersecurity breach occurs in a physical security system, integrators will be "in the line of fire" in terms of liabillty.

With the objective of "educating our partners about cybersecurity so they can mitigate the risk," PSA has formed partnerships with cybersecurity service providers and manufacturers who have "proven expertise" in cyber security.

Among the partners is a law firm that specializes soley in cybersecurity law for physical security companies. In my opinion, that alone should make integrators think twice about ignoring cybersecurity education.

Bozeman emphasized that PSA is not in the business of certifying or testing any products or services. Rather, Bozeman has been working with a group of cybersecurity experts and some integrators to "vet" partners for integrators.

PSA is launching a webinar series to introduce cybersecurity partners to integrators and "set up potential parnterships." The series launches this month and will go through April.

PSA has also come up with a checklist of "Six things integrators can do now" to protect their businesses. Here's the list. More details are available here.

1. Conduct a cybersecurity assessment

2. Educate your team

3. Purchase cybersecurity insurance

4. Update your contracts

5. Choose cyber-hardened products

6. Educate your customers


Vector takes on 17,000 new customers

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

PITTSBURGH—Vector Security has acquired Pelican Security Network Inc., a regional alliance of independent life safety and security services providers, fire protection companies, alarm dealers and systems integrators based in Baton Rouge, La.

The employees and more than 17,000 Pelican customers merged with Vector Security on Sept. 1, according to a prepared statement from Vector.

Amy Varisco will lead the newly formed Gulf District, which includes the Pelican Security Network of companies, for Vector Security, according to the company.

“In Vector Security, we have found the perfect company to transition our valued customers,” said Louis J. Resweber, Pelican president and COO. “We have been impressed with Vector Security, watching as they grow and provide exceptional service to their customers, all with a focus on the regional support that communities want and need. I am confident that Vector Security will provide the quality products and customer service our customers have come to expect from Pelican Security Network since 1998.”

Pam Petrow, recently named CSAA president and Vector CEO,  “We look forward to introducing the Vector Security brand to the Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi markets as we focus the company growth across these regions in the coming months.


Management reorg at Avigilon

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Avigilon, a video surveillance and end-to-end security solution provider, today announced two resignations and a management reorganization.

Bryan Schmode has resigned from his role as COO, and Collis Heath, SVP of Global Operations, has also left the company.

There have been a number of changes in Avigilon’s management ranks over the past few months. In August, Pedro Simoes, SVP of global sales, resigned and was replaced by James Hendershot. In May, Danny Cam, VP of Engineering left and was replaced by CTO and SVP Mahesh Saptharishi.

There have been several management changes in the past few years as well. The company announced today plans to streamline its senior management reporting structure “to increase operational efficiency.”

Avigilon's seven major departments—product development, sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, and human resources—will now report directly to Alexander Fernandes, Avigilon's founder, president, CEO, and Chairman of the Board.

“This refreshed structure brings Mr. Fernandes closer to Avigilon's day-to-day operations while empowering department leaders with greater authority,” the company said in the announcement.

Avigilon has been one of the fastest growing security companies. Its stock, which trades on the Toronto Exchange, closed at $12.37 on Sept. 2. Its 52-week high is $25.62. Its low is $12.34.

PE firm, Siemens exec look to fire detection acquisitions

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Private equity firm Huron Capital Partners is working with long-time Siemens executive Terry Heath to build a fire detection platform company. Huron will work through holding company Sciens Building Solutions. Huron defined the ideal acquisition as a Canadian or US fire detection provider to large commercial buildings, generating at least $15 million in revenue.

Huron Capital announced this Tuesday, listing “products, inspection and test services, ongoing maintenance and monitoring” as the scope of fire detection. Huron emphasized Heath’s experience in technology, specifically with fire and security products. He was, most recently, Siemens’ SVP of Corporate Technology USA.

“We are excited to partner with Terry to build a national platform focused on exceptional customer service and specialized capabilities within fire detection,” said Jim Mahoney, partner at Huron Capital, said in a prepared statement. “We believe demographic and regulatory trends will drive growth in the fire detection space, and Terry is an experienced executive in this market who will provide strong leadership to the platform.”

“Huron Capital is a great fit for this opportunity and I'm looking forward to the mutually beneficial partnership as we look to establish a strong presence in this industry together," Heath said in the statement. Through its business model, "Huron Capital can provide the necessary financial, strategic and operational resources to support my goal to build and lead a world-class fire detection services business," he said.

Huron Capital is based in Detroit. Started in 1999, it has raised more then $1.1 billion in capital.

Will UTC buy Nortek?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Will UTC buy Nortek?

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, says it's in talks to do so for around $1.2 billion. I talked to some folks in the past few days who say the purchase, which may not make sense on the surface may indeed make sense. Other financial reports, such as the Motley Fool, concur.

Nortek is the parent company of well known access control, security and automation brands Linear, 2GIG and Go!Control. Those brands fall under the Nortek Security and Control division. It's  a global diversified company with a current market cap of $1.3 billion and an enterprise value of $2.7 billion, and the bulk of Nortek’s business falls outside security, it also does HVAC, air management and AV.

Based in Hartford, Conn., United Technologies Corporation is a global $81 billion company that makes building systems and aerospace industry products. Its segments include:  Otis elevators; Pratt & Whitney;  UTC Aerospace Systems and UTC Climate, Controls & Security, which in addition to security does HVAC and refrigeration. UTC owns access control provider Lenel (as one person I spoke to called it--the darling of the UTC security portfolio) and intrusion and smart home provider Interlogix.

UTC bought GE Security in 2010. Here's a Q&A we did at the time.  Two years later, UTC sold its fire and security integration business (Red Hawk) to a private equity group.

UTC recently sold its Sikorsky helicopter division for $9 billion, so they've got money to invest.

Neither Nortek nor UTC are commenting, but plenty of folks outside of the businesses are talking about it.

People I spoke to said that UTC went looking for Nortek—Nortek was not actively looking for a buyer. They don’t believe that it is the security part of the business that is necessarily driving the deal—but rather, the fact that Nortek’s lines of businesses line up with UTC’s Climate Controls and Security division, though there would definitely be some overlap with 2GIG and Interlogix.

As The Motley Fool explains it, what's driving the deal is that the numbers make sense.

From the report: “…Nortek could be a pretty nice bargain. Bought for today's $1.4 billion valuation, Nortek would cost UTC less than 0.6 times Nortek's annual sales. UTC stock, in contrast, costs more than twice as much, at 1.3 times sales.
Meanwhile, although it earns no net profits, Nortek does earn operating profits (i.e., it would have been profitable but for the cost of interest, taxes, and various one-time items). In fact, at its current operating profit margin, Nortek earned about $123 million in operating profit on its revenues last year. If, after buying Nortek, UTC is able to improve the latter's operations so as to extract something like the 16.5% margin that UTC's own Climate, Controls, and Security business achieves, then this would work out to $413 million in annual profits from UTC's new subsidiary -- $290 million better than Nortek made on its own.”

Will the deal happen? I have no idea. But I guess I need to be prepared for another ISC West booth visit where I have to learn, again, how the UTC security business has been realigned.


R&D, training all part of CPI's roadmap

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CPI Security now has a lot of room to grow, including some R&D space. The company started building a new 120,000 square-foot building a few weeks ago. Recently, I got a chance to catch up with Ken Gill, CEO of CPI, and talk a bit more about the new facility’s design and how it compares to—and expands on—the current one.

Room to grow is a big theme with this building. Not everyone at CPI is moving over to the new facility once it’s built, Gill said. In fact, the company currently plans on maintaining both buildings on its 28-acre campus.

“Even though we’re not required to, the entire building will be UL-listed so we can operate [the central station] anywhere in the building,” he said.

The central station, which will move to the new facility when its completed, will have almost triple the space it has now.

“We’ll have better training space in there. Research and development [space] is going to keep us on the forefront of technological advances,” said Gill.

The current 47,000 square foot headquarters was built in late 2001. Gill said he expects the move to be done around the end of 2016.

The building will have amenities like a dining facility and gym to attract and retain employees, he said. It will be environmentally friendly, and CPI will seek LEED certification for the building.

“If we keep our employees happy, then they’ll—in turn—keep our customers happy, they’ll be more engaging with the customers,” Gill said.

CPI’s new building could even help the atmosphere. “Any time that you make investments into the business, it creates good morale,” he said. “When folks see growth, they see opportunity, from an employee standpoint, and we want our employees to know that they do have opportunity.”

CPI has about 130,000 customers in the Southeast United States.

CAA has busy fall schedule

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The California Alarm Association has planned four regional meetings in September.            

An EBAA general meeting will be held in Richmond Sept. 8; an IEAA general meeting in Riverside Sept. 15; an OCAA general meeting in Anaheim Sept. 16; and an an SDSA general meeting in San Diego Sept. 17. RSVPS are needed.

Additional general meetings are planned for October and November.

The organization is also planning for its winter convention, Dec. 9-12 in San Francisco, where the George A. Weinstock Award will go to Matt Westphal of Bay Alarm.

Dice adds 200k accounts to cloud-hosted center

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dice has added more than 200,000 accounts to its cloud-hosted monitoring center platform this year, the company announced today, and has a 24-month goal of reaching 1 million accounts total.

I got the chance to talk with Cliff Dice, company president and CEO, today about the platform’s growth and some of the problems it has helped solve, like dropped signals and account attrition.

Prior to this year, there were only about 10,000 accounts on Dice’s monitoring center, Dice estimated. Many of the new 200,000 accounts were added on after the service received its recent UL-listing. Here's a story on that.

When asked about strategies for hitting the 1 million hosted accounts mark, Dice said that the company’s currently focusing on current Dice software users. Though, he said it could be an easy way for alarm companies to switch from a different automation platform to Dice.

Dice is part owner of a telephone company, and Dice’s hosted monitoring center uses its own network. Having the ability to fully track the signal gives Dice the ability to see when and where a signal gets dropped and address the problem.

“Because we’re controlling everything end-to-end, we don’t have the problems with the VoIP issues that the alarm industry has,” Dice said.

This end-to-end understanding has even helped with attrition. “With the people we’ve put online, it’s cut their attrition primarily because we were able to analyze which panels weren’t working. … A lot of the alarm cancellations, problems, and service calls that alarm companies do, is related to the alarm panels not communicating right.”

Account attrition was cut by about 50 percent among the companies hosted on its cloud center, Dice said.

When I met with Cliff, both at ISC West and ESX, he mentioned the great reception the cloud-hosted service has had. It’s interesting to see more about that.