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Pelco to exit access control biz

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Friday, January 30, 2009
I don't think this is entirely surprising, but Pelco has announced it's exiting the access control business. Maybe it's just coincidence, but it's PR gospel that Friday afternoon is the best time to announce bad news... Not that this is necessarily bad news. A number of people have commented to me that access is not Pelco's core competency and they wouldn't be surprised to see it annexed. I think Pelco has always had a great focus on their strategy and not deviating from it, and this may be good news for the company in the end. I don't have a web link for the release, so here's a cut and paste until I can get an interview or two done: Pelco to Exit Access Control Business and Close Indianapolis Facility Clovis, California (January 30, 2009) — Pelco management announced to its employees today that in consideration of the current economic situation, the company has decided to take aggressive steps in order to focus resources on supporting Pelco’s core video security business. Pelco President and CEO Dean Meyer stated that “As the general economic outlook continues to worsen and as forecasts call for a prolonged challenge throughout 2009, we as a company are forced to continually adapt to market demands. In response, we have initiated the necessary planning to exit the electronic access control (EAC) business with our Intelli-M product line. This decision requires that we explore the options to sell or spin-off the Intelli-M EAC business, as well as to close the EAC business in its entirety.” Management further noted that these options are being explored, and that regardless, the company will be closing the Pelco Indianapolis facility which primarily houses the resources for its access control development along with elements of general product support and training. Meyer added that, “As we have indicated on numerous occasions, we are forced to monitor the market and be prepared to make difficult decisions swiftly in response to whatever challenges we are presented. This is another such decision but one that is necessary for us to maintain focus on efforts that are expected to best help Pelco weather the storm.” According to management, employees impacted by this decision have been informed, and those placed on layoff status will be offered severance, outplacement and counseling services. Likewise, Pelco will provide additional information to its customers on future plans for product support, warranty, repairs, etc., within the next 30 days. “I would like to thank all of the employees in Indianapolis as well as those throughout the company who have supported our Intelli-M EAC business over this past year. Even though excellent progress has been made in the product offering and toward future releases, we must consider the realistic timing of future sales growth and the associated support costs between now and then. I ask for your support and understanding with this difficult decision,” said Meyer. I don't think this was part of the plan along, though. When I spoke with Dean Meyer, he expressed what seemed to be genuine enthusiasm for the access control division: Similarly, Pelco has taken Integral's access control system and run with it. "Pelco was working on its own access control prior to the merger," Meyer said. "Now Integral brings its own, and we've moved very quickly on marrying that together and presenting that to the channel." So, will Pelco's access system eventually be as universal as its cameras? "Let me dream," Meyer joked. "But Pelco's got a hell of a brand, and integration is becoming more important. We all know that." As for possible buyers? I'm not sure. It's interesting that Vicon just announced an access control platform. Guess they're out. What about Mace? They've talked about adding access. That wouldn't shock me. Not sure what the price tag would be, though.

Security and the Stimulus package

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Friday, January 30, 2009
President Obama's stimulus plan, which passed the House of Representatives yesterday lacked bipartisan support, (It passed 244-188 along party lines. Not one Republican voted for the plan. Trying to make a point, they knew it would pass) but it did have vocal support of some business leaders. Prior to the vote, Obama held a meeting where he wooed a group of 11 execs of major corporations. Of interest to the security industry may be the presence of David Cote, Honeywell CEO (parent company of Honeywell Security and ADI). According to a report in Reuters:
Cote said the current dynamic is bad for American industry and that his company supports the bill the House of Representatives is voting on today. "Our message would be that it needs to get done fast," Cote said. "
Here's the full story On a separate note: The NBFAA helped get language included in the House version of the stimulus package that should stimulate some security and fire business. There are two provisions in the stimulus package that you all should care about: one provides $16 billion to public schools and another provides $4 billion to colleges and universities. For schools, the grants can be used to bring public schools into compliance with fire, health and safety codes. That means they can spend the money on the professional installation (which is the key wording NBFAA helped out with) of fire alarms, and "modernizations, renovations and repairs that ensure schools are prepared for emergencies, such as improving building infrastructure to accommodate security measures." It's not a done deal yet. The language has to be included in the Senate version. We'll know if that happens by the middle of next week, John Chwat, NBFAA's guy on The Hill, told me. If it happens, though, the cash is there. No more authorizing or appropriating needed.

Monitronics launches new Site

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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monitronics announced on Jan. 28 the launch of its new customer-account interface, MyMonitronics, aimed at bolstering the company’s online service offerings. The move follows on the heels of the sweeping overhaul of the company’s main website, www.monitronics.com. According to the press release, MyMonitronics was built in direct response to customer feedback. MyMonitronics lets users pay bills, download product user manuals, enroll in direct debit payment programs, and take advantage of business-referral rewards programs, among other features. The site also features video testimonials from Monitronics customers from across the country, and provides targeted alarm product information aimed specifically at families, single parents and seniors.

"Miracle on the Hudson," by Bosch

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Thursday, January 29, 2009
CNN has grabbed footage of the now-world-famous (and rightly so) landing of US 1549 on the Hudson River from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal surveillance cameras, which I've been informed were Bosch. The footage isn't the best, but you'll see the zoom in isn't half-bad resolution-wise. This is really just a chance for me to post footage of what I consider to be the feel-good story of the decade. Can you imagine being on that plane? I fly through NYC about 10 times a year. Of course, if those were all Mainers, they'd have all just swam to shore...

Stanley releases 4Q results: Not too shabby

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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Here are the highlights from Stanley's 4Q numbers, released yesterday: Their "Security" segment did $410m, with $75m of that profit. Nice margin of 18.4 percent. When you consider Stanley paid $545m to acquire HSM, and, conservatively, half of that profit is directly attributable to the HSM platform, it seems more and more like a good buy. In 2007 and 2008, since the buy, the security business has delivered $239.9m and $268.7m in profit, respectively, on sales of $1.4b and $1.49b (note the "b"s). In fact, security is the company's shining star. John F. Lundgren, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "While the fourth quarter was characterized by steep revenue and margin declines in CDIY and Industrial, the Security segment continued on its growth trajectory, providing welcome stability to overall company operations. We feel that we are taking appropriate actions to protect our cash flow and earnings base while positioning the company for future growth. We are operating from a position of strength in the most difficult environment in memory." You've got to hand it to Stanley leadership. They made an aggressive play into security and are being handsomely rewarded for it.

Like Madoff-lite

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A curious story came across my desk because of it's relationship to Mace: The company lost $2.2 million to a 76-year-old hedge fund manager who lost $350 million and then faked his own suicide before being caught today by the FBI. Here's the initial story. The paper got a hold of the suicide note: Nadel's note stated "there are those that would like to kill him, but that he will do it himself." Well, I don't think Dennis Raefield rolls that way, but he's not happy about getting fleeced. In another development, the company that makes the Mace pepper spray acknowledged it lost $2.2 million in the Sarasota hedge funds operated by Nadel. Mace Security International Inc. said the Victory Fund failed to pay the money as promised on Jan. 15, the day after Nadel vanished. The $2.2 million is the largest amount of money any investor has publicly acknowledged losing in the funds operated by Nadel. The company also said it was stymied in its effort to withdraw its money as far back as October. "We have already filed a report with the authorities, and we intend to take all possible legal action against the Victory Fund," said Dennis Raefield, Mace's president and chief executive. Apparently, though, Nadel was either just trying to skip town or chickened out, since he turned himself in to the FBI today. This part of the story doesn't look good for Mace getting its money back: The SEC said Nadel's funds appeared to have assets totaling less than $1 million, while he claimed in sales materials for three of the funds that they had about $342 million in assets as of Nov. 30. The materials also boasted of monthly returns of 11 to 12 percent for several of the funds last year, when they actually had negative results. An investor in one fund received an account statement for November indicating her investment was worth almost $420,000. In reality, the entire fund had less than $100,000, according to the SEC. Unbelievable.

Hate to say I told you so...

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Well, it turns out that having people at home monitor border cameras, looking for illegal border crossings, doesn't really work. Shocker. I first saw a program like this about nine months ago. At the time, I speculated: So, for each camera, the group needs, say, 12 rotating volunteers? Or as many as 48 if each person agrees to only take one shift a day? And each of those volunteers needs to commit to 365 days of vigilance? That adds up to a lot of people in a hurry if you’re trying to cover any serious portion of the border. We’re talking 2,000 miles of border here. If it worked, I thought, it would become a hot thing to do, but I was doubtful. Here's what happened to the official program in Texas: - The coalition hoped to make 1,200 arrests the first year from tips called in by citizens watching the camera feeds on the Internet. In the first six months, there were three arrests. - The coalition expected to report 4,500 suspected immigration violations to the U.S. Border Patrol in the first year. There were six suspected violations reported. - The coalition planned to install 200 cameras, or about one ever six miles. So far, 13 have been installed and there probably will be just 15 total. That's one camera for every 80 miles of border. Well, you can see how this was set up for failure. The initial question, of course, is how they managed to spend $2 million on 13 installed cameras. Is that all cabling? Seems like there's some wasted in the program somewhere. These kinds of stories are not good for the industry. It was a bad plan, clearly poorly implemented, and now it's a failure story that people can bring around saying, "surveillance doesn't work." As in: "I think it's a waste of time and it's a waste of money," said state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, a McAllen Democrat. "It doesn't work." But it's just like anything else: Poorly planned and executed things don't work. Well planned and executed things do work.

Computer-aided dispatch standard established

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Monday, January 26, 2009
Following up on a Security Systems News story I wrote back in November, The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International announced today (Jan. 26) the approval of an American National Standard to provide a standard data exchange for the electronic transmission of information between alarm monitoring companies and public safety answering points. Called the External Alarm Interface Information Exchange program, the new ANS was approved on Jan. 15 and is now an accepted standard and should, according to Pam Petrow of Vector Security be a boon to the industry. "I think it creates a great opportunity for the alarm industry and should be very cost-effective for the 911 industry to implement,” Petrow said back in Novemeber when the program was entering the ANSI standards testing process. The new ANS can be downloaded here.

Another profile of Lou

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Monday, January 26, 2009
So I'm looking for news for my residential section and what do I come across but a a nice little profile of InGrid's Lou Stilp? Lou is, hands-down, the master of getting nice little profiles. This one's a Q&A in the Philadelphia Inquirer. There's some background on Lou and an interesting quote about how InGrid piggybacks on advertising done by the big guys like Brink's and ADT.
And what we do is take advantage of the fact that ADT and Brinks run ads on TV and that people go on the Web and they start searching on home security. And the more they learn about us, the more they like us
You know what? I believe it, because every time I go on the Web and start searching on home security, I find Lou.

Update on NFPA show

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Monday, January 26, 2009
I got a call from Linda Bailey at the NFPA bright and early this morning. She said registration is on track for the June show in Chicago. The early sell out of the block of rooms at the hotel where the convention is being held (see previous post) is the result of early registration by exhibitors. "It's looking good for the show in Chicago," she said.

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