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Where does the name 'Freeus' really come from?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Last week, AvantGuard’s CEO, Josh Garner, told me a story. He had recently heard of a woman recovering from a fall, one who was set up with a traditional PERS unit. After hearing that it wouldn’t work outside of the home, she hadn’t left the house for 15 months, he said. After a dealer heard of this, he set her up with one of Securus’ mPERS devices.

“Eventually, she took a walk to the garden, then she walked down the street,” Garner told me. “She would test her device in all of these scenarios, and realized that if something were to happen to her… it still worked.”

“She celebrated by buying a puppy [which] she walks around her block every day.”

Garner wanted to incorporate this sense of Freedom into the naming AvantGuard’s new sister company, Freeus, which recently acquired the PERS business built by Securus.

“We really liked having something that linked us to the past. Securus has had a legacy of innovation, developing products.”

Thus, “freedom” and “Securus” combine to make “Freeus.”

“It sounds crazy, but that story—to us—just epitomizes what our business is about, and it’s delivering freedom to individuals,” Garner said.

That’s where the name comes from.

Calling all women in security technology

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In the March issue of Security Systems News we launched a new series of stories dedicated to Women in Security Technology. It's a topic I've written about frequently. Here's a blog I wrote last May when I was at PSA-TEC and interviewed IST's Christine Lanning (who was also subsequently featured in our Women in Security feature in November.)

We decided to formalize the topic of Women in Security Technology into a series last month after I interviewed  Ellen Cargill, CTO for video surveillance provider Scallop Imaging. Here's that story in case you missed it.

Since I wrote that story I've heard from a few people with suggestions of women to interview for the series, so I'm happy to have some interviews lined up and I'm looking for more. If you know a woman who works in a technical/technology role in the physical security industry who would be perfect for this series, please email me at

Security Partners' upcoming plans in the west

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In February, Security Partners appointed Rick Guzman to the role of west coast operations manager, where he will be overseeing both the new Las Vegas facility as well as the Anaheim facility. I got to speak with Guzman, as well as Bob Schott, director of information technologies at Security Partners, about what this role will entail.

A big item currently on Rick’s plate is getting the Las Vegas location ready for its opening ceremony at ISC West.

In order to meet this date, Guzman is hoping to get the facility up and running by the beginning of April.

Anything special planned for the ceremony? Other than tours, there are a couple of surprises planned, Schott said.

“A priority is people. … Making sure that we have enough people to take care of both facilities, the current dealer base, and also to be prepared for the growth we’re looking at,” Guzman said.

Part of this growth might come from the ability to show the new facility at ISC West, they said.

“Rick is also going to be a key player in establishing that continuity between the four central stations, evaluating best practices across the organization and putting that into production,” Schott said.

Schott said this will involve weekly evaluations with the staff in each location, and “taking the best of what each of our four centers have to offer, and then translating that into a standard operating procedure for the entire organization.”

Another duty for Guzman is connecting both of these facilities with the network of Security Partners’ other facility in San Antonio, and headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. This involves a redundancy to a point where each location could handle communications from all four stations at one time.

ISC West coming up fast

Monday, March 2, 2015

Will you be at ISC West? Will you have news about residential security, home automation, impactful legislation or end-user focuses that our Security Systems News readers need to know? If so, please let me know.

I’m putting together my show schedule now. Because the show is so huge and offers up so many opportunities, it’s difficult to meet up with everyone I’d like to, but I do my best, as do my SSN colleagues.

I’d like to hear about new and emerging resi securty technology, its current uses and successes. I can’t write about every new product out there, but if you’ll have end users in attendance to tell me how it works for them, that works for me.

It’s a busy show so let’s—and I mean this politely and beneficially to all—try not to waste each other’s time. I’ve booked booth visits and attended ISC press conferences before that have promised news for our readers that just haven’t panned out. As readers of SSN, you know the types of articles we report on and print.

Please contact me at with your news items.

Also, we’ll be holding our annual “Meet the Editors” event from 9:30-10 a.m. April 15 at our media stage right near the entrance of the show floor. Please stop by to say hi to us. It’s completely informal, no presentations, just a way to reconnect and in some cases put names with faces.

I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

Vivint and Undercover Boss: Lessons learned

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen wasn’t “fast enough” to work in one of his own warehouses, was “moving a little slow” on an installation job and should have been more adept at handling a basic tool, according to two of his  employees.

Pedersen got those professional reviews during his stint on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Feb. 20. I wrote about that here. During that experience, he says, he learned much about being a company leader and that “details matter most.”

For the popular reality show, Pedersen posed incognito, which included wearing a wig, as a Vivint trainee and met with four of his company’s employees at their workplaces.

First he worked with Mark on an install job that involved being up on a roof. That encounter enlightened him on the need for Vivint workers to have proper, non-slippery footwear.

He then worked with a monitoring center rep, Sandy. Pedersen, handling a call, disconnected it inadvertently. During one call, static was prevalent and Sandy told Pedersen that the system needed some fine-tuning.

On his third stint he worked at one of the company’s warehouses with Alma and was surprised when he had to fill out a work order on paper rather than digitally. Alma is the employee who told him he wasn’t suited to work for Vivint: “Too slow.”

He also was told he was working too slowly by employee Will during Pedersen’s final “Undercover Boss” gig at a smart-home installation. And, Will added, Pedersen needed practice working with a basic tool—a drill.

When I talked to Pedersen before the show aired, he couldn’t say all that much about the outcome of the show due to CBS restrictions. But I did catch up with him via email this week to get more details.

Here’s what Pedersen had to say.

Q: What was the top lesson you gleaned from being on the show?

A: As a leader, it’s your job to look at the big picture and focus on the vision of the company, but I learned that when it comes to employees, the details matter most. The smallest upgrades in equipment and installation hardware can shave off significant amounts of time and stress for employees. Little things really do make a big difference to the people you employ.

Q: How will the show have an impact on the way your company is run/managed in the future?

A: After each day on a new job [for the show], I would get on a conference call with senior management and discuss what I learned and potential improvements pertaining to that job. And while the experience hasn’t changed the way we run the company in a major way, we have made several changes in equipment and processes. 

The most significant change we implemented was announcing a brand-new facility for our monitoring professionals. As I worked alongside Sandy, she had interference issues with her equipment. In addition to improving phone cords and headsets for Sandy and her coworkers, we decided to give them a beautiful new facility. 

Q: Any other insights? Would you do this again?

A: The most interesting part was just being able to work alongside my employees as a regular guy, rather than the CEO. I truly enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and learning about their backgrounds and the things they’ve overcome. I’ve always believed in cultivating strong relationships with my employees, and this experience reaffirmed the importance of that for me.

While not every executive has the chance to go undercover like I did, taking the time to work side by side and connect with employees is important for all members of the leadership team. I plan to give this opportunity to other executives so they can benefit from the invaluable insight that comes from being on the ground. (Although, I won’t make any of them wear a wig!)

I don’t think I could get away with going undercover again. Word has definitely gotten out around the company, but I did really enjoy going out in the field and working with employees across the business. I would definitely do that again, and I’ll probably take some of our other executives along with me next time. 

Pedersen also heard the four employees’ personal stories and responded to their hardships—widowhood, bankruptcy, cancer treatments, custody disagreements and more—with compassion and with his wallet. Kudos to him.



Meet with SSN editors at ISC West

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ISC West is a short seven weeks away and the editors at Security Systems News have already started to book appointments.

Are you interested in talking to us about your new products, your business plan, trends in the industry? We want to meet and talk to as many SSN readers as possible in Las Vegas, but since there are only three of us, we cannot meet everyone. We do have to make some choices. Below is some information you may find helpful.

NEW PRODUCTS Will we cover your new product? Security Systems News is dedicated to breaking business news and does not do much pure product coverage. However, we do much more product news at ISC West than we do elsewhere, so please let us know about your new product launch at ISC West. If you can also tell us how and why our readers—the integrators, installers and professional monitoring companies—will be interested in this new product, we will try to fit you in to our calendars.

An excellent way to get coverage of your new product is to have it featured for free in Security Systems News April (ISC West Show)  printed publication. If you're launching a product at ISC West, you can get a nifty description and photo in our April issue for free. Click here to find out about that.

NEW COMPANY or NEW DIVISION, TECH TRENDS, M&A ACTIVITY, BUSINESS PLANS FOR 2015, OTHER NEWS TIPS?  We want to hear about this stuff. Our coverage areas are divided this way: Spencer Ives sives@securitysystemsnews covers monitoring and general news; Amy Canfield covers residential security and home automation, fire, legislative news, end-user related news;, I cover commercial and systems integrators, and suppliers (manufacturers).

NEWS CONFERENCES Will we come to your news conference? Yes! On one condition though—please have news to share. Every year we get some "Announcements!" that so-and-so is having a news conference and they would like us to commit to attending. What's the news conference about? Well that information will be forthcoming, we're told. We understand that you may not want to announce every detail ahead of time, but we do need some information.

TIMING FOR EVENTS and NEWS CONFERENCES We love news conferences that are coordinated with the organizers of ISC West. We like news conferences that take place in the press room or on the show floor while the show is going on. If you coordinate with the organizers of ISC West, your event won't overlap with someone elses. We do not like breakfast or dinner news conferences. We'd rather just have breakfast or dinner. Lunchtime news conferences can work in our opinion. HID used to do a well organized, informative, news conference with boxed lunches in a room close to the show floor. It was crowded too.

THINK ABOUT MAKING YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT AHEAD OF ISC WEST  So much happens at the show that we can't possibly cover it all. The really big news can bury some important news items.  If you can talk to us three or four weeks ahead of time, we can probably give you more complete coverage. Reach out to us now if you want to talk about ISC West announcements ahead of time.

IF WE CAN'T MEET YOU AT ISC WEST If your news falls within our coverage area, often times we can do a call a few weeks after ISC West.

IS YOUR EVENT HAPPENING DURING THE Security 5k? Between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 16? Oh Well. You should be at the Security 5k, running, walking, or cheering the runners on. Get your company to put together a team and support the sixth annual Security 5K, (which was founded by Security Systems News). You'll get some exercise during ISC West and you can literally help save a child. In 2014 we raised more than $110,000, used to provide food, water, education and healthcare for more than 260 children for one year through a wonderful organization called Mission 500. Click here for more information.  Some folks do have other commitments during that time--If you're one of them, consider sponsoring a runner. You can make a difference.


Police department ceases monitoring

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Enterprise, Ala. police department will discontinue alarm monitoring of residences and commercial business.

The Enterprise City Council voted to discontinue the Enterprise Police Department’s involvement in monitoring burglary and fire alarms, according to the Enterprise Ledger.

The police department currently monitors 17 residences and six businesses in the city as an additional source of income. However, a $4,000 upgrade to the system is needed to keep the monitoring system working properly.

The police department has proposed giving the individuals and businesses being monitored a 30-day notice to find an alternate monitoring provider.

ADT puts muscle, aka Ving Rhames, into ad campaign

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BOCA RATON, Fla.—He had commanding roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “Mission Impossible” and starred in HBO’s “Don King: Only in America.” Now award-winning actor Ving Rhames is putting his tough-guy persona and deep voice to work for ADT.

Well, wait a sec. According to Rhames, he’s not just working for the huge home security firm; he says in the new commercials that he “is ADT.”

The ad campaign seeks to set ADT apart from the increasing number of smart home products available to consumers. The spots are based on the premise that consumers often mistake convenience “with the added safety of professionally monitored security,” ADT said in a prepared statement.

In the ads, Rhames asks, “What good is a smart home if it’s not a safe home?”

“Our new campaign addresses the desire for connectivity, control and most important of all—security. Self-monitored security solutions do not provide police, fire or emergency medical response in the event of an emergency,” Jerri DeVard, chief marketing officer of ADT, said in the statement.

Rhames says in one of the spots I viewed: “Strong isn’t wrong, I’m ADT, I oughta know. But what makes brawn even better is brains. See, I’m both the big brain at the center of your peace of mind and the big muscle to keep the peace.”

Big brain, big muscle, gotcha. I'm not going to argue with Mr. Ving. Good ad campaign, I think. What do you think?

AICC takes on net neutrality, dropped signals

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CSAA recently posted on its site about the matter of net neutrality, as well as sending out a message from Alarm Industry Communications Committee chair Lou Fiore concerning the topic. Capitol Hill has various items up for consideration on net neutrality, according to Fiore.

 “Our goal at this point is simply to let Congress know we are here again and what our needs are as primarily small businesses. At some point legislation will move forward, probably as a rewrite of the Telecommunications Act, and we want to ensure we are not forgotten,” Fiore said in the message.

Net neutrality is the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated the same by Internet service providers. This has been an ongoing issue for the security industry and carries with it serious implications.

“Our primary concern is that broadband and wireless network providers are increasingly offering services that compete with us in providing home and business security services. Without some protection for smaller players, these network providers will have an incentive to favor their own security services and ‘throttle’ or ‘block’ our emergency signals in order to gain a competitive advantage,” CSAA said on its site.

CSAA also provides a letter template to be sent to key members of Congress, along with contact information for these key people. CSAA urges its members to contact their local congressperson by Feb. 26, and to emphasize the personal aspect of their company's situation in this issue.

The association has also posted other stances the industry has taken on this issue, as well as a portion of the 1996 telecommunications act, on its site.

In addition to this push towards net neutrality, AICC announced today the start researching the matter of dropped signals from digital alarm communications transmitters. This will be done through a survey also available on CSAA's site.

According to a recent press release from CSAA, findings from this effort will be made available at the next AICC meetings in March and June of 2015.

Showing a new product at ISC West?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We are putting together our April, ISC West Show Issue, and we have TWO opportunities for product coverage in that issue: The ISC West New Product section and the Product Spotlight on Mobile Apps.

FIrst: the ISC West new product section
It's time once again to submit your products for Security Systems News’ ISC West New Show Product section.

If you are exhibiting and debuting a new product at ISC West in April you may submit a product to be featured in SSN's New Show Product section. Companies that have more than one product division may submit one product for each division.

To take advantage of this free editorial opportunity, please send an email with the following information in the body of the text to

1.  Company name
2.  Company website
3.  Product name
4.  Three bullet points that describe your product, each 12 words or less
5. Company telephone number—only ONE please (to be published)
6. ISC West booth number (essential; you must be exhibiting at ISC West)
7.  Image of product ( JPEG file with a DPI of 300 or greater. No PDFs, please.)

The firm deadline is Monday, March 2. Space in the issue is limited, so submitting early ensures you a place in the section.

And here's the second product coverage opportunity. It's the Product Spotlight on Mobile Apps
Security Systems News is featuring a Product Spotlight on Mobile Apps in our April issue. If you carry this product and want to be included, please send the following information about one product (a different one than submitted for New Products section, please) by Monday, March 2 to

1.  Company name
2.  Company web site
3.  Product name
4.  Three bullet points that describe your product, each 12 words or less
5.  Image of product ( JPEG file with a DPI of 300 or greater. No PDFs, please.)

We will print as many as space allows.

Confused? Have questions? Please contact Cath Daggett, advertising coordinator for SSN: