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Security dealers score $10,000 wins at ISC West

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

2GIG Technologies recently shipped its one-millionth panel and the lucky Utah security dealer who ordered it was awarded $10,000 at the ISC West show on Thursday as a result.

And remember SAFE Security’s ISC West promotion in which it was offering a $10,000 bonus to dealers who signed up for its dealer program by the last day of the show?

Well, the show and the promotion don’t end until tomorrow, but SAFE President and CEO Paul Sargenti told me on Thursday that it looks like 11 dealers have qualified so far.

That’s just one shy of the dozen dealers he was anticipating, he said. And although everything has not been finalized, Sargenti said it appears that “it’s one of our best results for a promotion.”

Sargenti said that for the dealers, the bonus was only part of the draw. “The money offer was nice but they were looking for a program that had stability and longevity,” he said.

SAFE, based in San Ramon, Calif. is one of the nation’s largest full-service security companies and does business in every state but Hawaii and also in Canada, Sargenti said. The company is growing rapidly and just completed a $130 million senior debt refinancing in late February.

At the 2GIG booth on Thursday afternoon, Ben Edstrom, CEO of Jordan, Utah-based Elite Home Security, was delighted to learn a panel he ordered from 2GIG contained a “golden ticket” worth $10,000.

“We’ve been placing some large orders,” he told me. “I guess we placed it at the right time.” The panel was shipped last week, the company said.

Edstrom plans to use the money to take a trip to Hawaii.

Lance Dean, co-founder of Carlsbad, Calif.-based 2GIG, a manufacturer of security and home automation equipment that was established in 2009 and is known for its Go!Control system, surprised Edstrom with the award at a small ceremony Thursday. Dean sounded as thrilled as the $10,000 winner.

“This is a huge milestone for us,” Dean said of the fact that now 2GIG has shipped one million panels. He said he dreamed of such success when the company began but is happy it has happened so quickly.

Nortek, the parent company of Linear, which helped development the 2GIG Go!Control product, recently announced the acquisition of 2GIG for $135 million.

 

ISC West: DMP panels offer ‘more for less’; System Sensor launches combined CO/smoke detector; FLIR aims for infrared cameras in every home

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I spent my first morning at ISC West on Tuesday at a rather “unique” forum made up of DMP dealers. The talk there included discussion of the Springfield, Mo.-based manufacturer’s new XR150/350/550 Series access, burglary, and fire panel that the company is showcasing here in Las Vegas.

“We’ve tried to pack as much stuff as we could in this panel,” Rick Britton, DMP CEO and president, told the dealers. He said it’s extremely fast and it’s affordable. “More for less,” he said.

The one-day DMP forum was an owners forum, the second year DMP has held such an event. David Peebles, DMP VP of training and quality, said, “We think the idea is unique”—having DMP executives sit down and discuss ideas with the owners of top DMP dealer companies.

Included in the forum was a presentation by Stanley Oppenheim of New York-based DGA Security Systems, who spoke about how his company weathered Hurricane Sandy. Alan Kruglak of Maryland-based Genesis Security, a security/life safety provider, gave a talk on service contracts and how they can be even more lucrative then monitoring contracts.

In the afternoon, I talked with System Sensor’s director of communications, David George, about the company’s new i4 Series Combination CO/Smoke Detector and Integration Module that it’s launching here at the show.

“The i4 Series is the first low-voltage, system-connected, combination smoke and carbon monoxide detection solution on the market,” according to a company news release. The i4 can be integrated into conventional security and fire panels.

I wrote last spring about a new intelligent combined fire/co detector from Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell. That addressable detector is ideal for large facilities such as hotels, dormitories, apartment buildings, hospitals and nursing homes.

The System Sensor conventional combination CO/smoke solution is the answer for smaller spaces, such as businesses and residences, George told me.

On Tuesday evening, I headed to an event put on by FLIR Systems, an Oregon-based manufacturer of thermal imaging infrared cameras. It makes products that are used in commercial and military applications, but also ones used by consumers, such as hand-held thermal imaging cameras that can be used by recreational boaters or hunters.

Thermal cameras detect images through the heat they emit so can operate in total darkness. The FLIR event was held at the Bali Hai Golf Course, and with the aid of such an infrared device, we could clearly see FLIR employees chasing golf balls on the golf course, even though it was pitch dark out.

And now, with FLIR’s acquisition last year of Lorex Technology, a Toronto-based video surveillance provider, it aims to provide thermal imaging cameras to the home market.

Lorex sells enterprise-grade video products sold through the security channel under the brand name Digimerge; Lorex itself sells video products sold through retail outlets for small businesses and homeowners. The company has hundreds of thousands of customers.

FLIR President Andy Teich said the company’s aim is to offer a low-resolution thermal imaging camera that is affordable to the average homeowner. The cost eventually could perhaps be as low as about $200, said Bill Klink, FLIR VP of business development.

Teich said FLIR’s goal is have infrared technology be “ultimately ubiquitous” in the way that GPS technology is. GPS, he said, answers the question, “Where am I?” and “thermal imaging will tell you what’s out there.

Drawing the line on tattoos in the workplace

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Twenty-five years ago, the only tattoo I remember seeing was the one on my father-in-law’s left bicep. It was a simple black anchor, a reminder of his Navy days, that hadn’t fared well over the years. Its once-sharp lines had morphed into blurry tentacles, an embarrassment that he kept covered with shirtsleeves even during the dog days of summer.

How times have changed. Ink art is now de rigueur, with nose, lip and cheek piercings often part of the package. You may not like the look or believe it’s wise given the bill that will arrive with advanced age, but that’s never stopped fashion before. It’s all the rage and it’s coming soon to a coffeehouse near you.

But what happens when the look goes beyond the baristas and it reaches your security company? If a sales rep’s stud earring gives way to a ring through the lip, or an operator’s ankle shamrock begets an arm’s length of more colorful ink, how will it affect co-workers? More importantly, how will it affect your customers?

The problem isn’t a lack of professionalism—it’s the image of a lack of professionalism. You can nip the problem in the bud by having a workplace appearance policy, but you’ll need to tread carefully to avoid running afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Cross that line and you could end up in court.

A great primer the topic was provided via email last week by Judge Ruth Kraft, chairwoman of the Labor and Employment Group at Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum. Here’s what she had to say:

Body art and piercings are personal expressions. However, in general, you have a great deal of discretion with respect to appearance standards. You can require that ‘ink’ and piercings not be visible. There is no legally established right for workers to display them in the workplace. Unless the employee can establish that they are indicia of religious or racial expression, tattoos and piercings are not protected under federal anti-discrimination laws.          

Therefore, you are entitled to establish policy. The best policy is one that explains itself in terms of reasonable business needs. Just as a manufacturer may require assembly-line workers to wear protective clothing and to tie back his or her hair for safety reasons, a pediatrician may ban hanging earrings or nose rings which could be torn out by a recalcitrant youngster or prohibit nail extensions which could harbor bacteria.

   The typical approach in establishing policies is a midground which limits restrictions to employees who have contact with the public and requires that the tattoos and piercings not be visible. This is the most practical to implement since it doesn’t restrict employee self-expression but simply limits what they can show at work. A policy which provides that, if an appearance standard is violated, the employee will be asked to correct it, including going home to change into clothing that covers the tattoos and/or piercings, puts workers on notice as to the consequences of their actions.  The policy should be enforced just as you enforce other behavior policies. If your rules call for progressive discipline, then you should follow the same steps for violation of the appearance policy, beginning with verbal warning and proceeding to written warning, etc.

  Caveat 1: If the tattoo or piercing represents a genuine religious or racial expression, then it may be protected under the federal anti-discrimination laws. The rights of observant Jews to wear yarmulkes in the workplace or of Sikhs to wear their turbans and beards have been upheld in the courts, except where such outward manifestations of belief could pose health or safety risks in particular occupations. There is limited case authority on this point, but I believe that the courts will differentiate between a volitional outward manifestation of belief (i.e., a tattoo of Jesus on one’s arm) which is not religiously mandated, and tattooing which is required of members of a bona fide religious or racial group.  

   Caveat 2: Be sure to enforce your policy consistently to prevent claims of unfair application or discrimination against a member of a protected class under the law.

For more information on workplace appearance policies, or to update or create one for your company, contact Kraft at RKraft@Kirschenbaumesq.com. For advice on how to remove tattoos, go to www.tattoohealth.org.

ISC West 2013 Day 1

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It’s the first morning of ISC West, but the show-related events and commitments started yesterday. They started as soon as I got here and way before my hotel had my room ready. Yesterday I attended several meetings and one special event—the Women’s Security Council reception.

I was flattered to be named one of WSC’s ‘women of the year’ last night, and honored to be in the company of the following industry leaders: Mary Jo Cornell, president and CEO of Linstar Inc.; Pamela Petrow, president and CEO of Vector Security; Donna Kobzaruk, vice president of GlobalSecurity and Investigations, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Bodil Sonesson, vice president of Global Sales, Axis Communications; Karen Evans, president and CEO of Sielox; and WSC 2013 Volunteer of the Year: Renae Leary, Senior Director of Global Accounts, Tyco.

It was fun to catch up with so many folks at the WSC reception before the show. Rhianna Daniels of CompassPR and Deb O’Mara, of SDI, did a great job organizing the event and running this important group.

The day starts for me in 30 minutes with the Axis Press breakfast, followed by press conferences and meetings with Next Level Security Systems, Diebold, Quolsys click here to see who they are  NICE, Avigilon, Tyco Global Accounts, Tyco IS, Security-Net.

I also have a list of booths that I want to check out. Among them, Prism Skylabs. Like many other suppliers,  Prism is running a promo. Here’s some of the details of that from an email conversation I had with Prism founder Steve Russell.

1. How will the promo work?

Security integrators who sign up for our partner program and purchase a Prism Starter Pack at ISC West will get an additional 100 one-year Prism Skylabs licenses for free. That's more than a $10,000 value, and something that I can't imagine we'll ever offer again. As it is, our Starter Packs are hyper discounted for new partners, allowing them to make high margins, generate recurring revenue, and expand their sales beyond LP and into Marketing, Merchandising, andOperations. But it's not just that. We get a lot of traffic at www.prismskylabs.com, and we use our website to generate leads for our partners. …It's a turnkey solution that takes mere minutes to deploy anywhere around the globe, is steeply discounted, and comeswith real-time, mobile access and powerful offline analytics —from customer counting to dwell time to product lift.

One more item before I go to the show floor: The Security 5k is tomorrow morning at 7:30! There’s a new starting location. You can catch a bus to the start line if you go to the taxi stand behind the Sands. Last bus leaves at 7:10 or better yet, jog the .6 miles to the start.

Qolsys has issued a fun throwdown for the Security 5K. Here's their pitch:

"CAN YOU BEAT US? This year's Security 5K at ISC west is sure to have the biggest turnout ever. We run it for a good cause, to enjoy each other's company, and to enjoy a little friendly competition.This year, we're upping the ante. Our race team is good, but if you can beat us, you deserve a little something extra. 5 somethings extra.If your fastest racer* can beat the Qolsys Team's fastest racer, we'll give you an exclusive, personal demo of the new IQ solution, and 5 free panels."

A word of warning: I hear Qolsys’s fastest runner does sub-7 splits, and their slowest is just over 9 splits.

 

 

Vivint Live: personal touch monitoring; Vivint president takes on solar CEO duties

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two recent developments from home automation/home security giant Vivint caught my eye. One is a new feature for homeowners called Vivint Live, which the company said links customers directly to a monitoring professional and helps reduce false alarms. The other is that Alex Dunn, who just recently became president of Vivint, is also now interim CEO for Vivint Solar.

Provo, Utah-based Vivint announced today that with Vivint Live, its customers can now use their touchscreen panels to communicate directly with a monitoring professional in the event of an alarm.

Here’s what the company had to say:
 

When an alarm is triggered, the signal is sent to Vivint's award-winning monitoring center, which is staffed 24 hours a day throughout the year. Upon receiving the alarm, a Vivint in-house monitoring professional speaks to the customer through the touchscreen panel. Acting as a first responder, the agent assesses the situation, confirms an emergency with the customer, and dispatches emergency personnel accordingly. With Vivint Live, homeowners have the personal, immediate response they need to work through any emergency situation and receive necessary care. …

… Vivint Live's quick response also allows Vivint to decrease the number of false alarms. Vivint monitoring professionals connect directly with the customer and then dispatch emergency personnel only during a legitimate emergency or when the customer cannot be reached.

In other news, the company also announced yesterday that Tanguy Serra has stepped down as CEO of Vivint Solar and that Dunn is now interim CEO. Serra said in a statement that it’s time for him to step away from day-to-day operations but that he still will be involved as an advisor to the company.

Vivint Solar, a company that Vivint created in 2011, is one of the fastest-growing residential solar power provider in the North America.

Dunn said in a statement: “Tanguy has helped us build an amazing business, and we are grateful for all of his hard work and dedication. Vivint Solar is what it is today because of his leadership. We are committed to expanding upon the foundation that he has built, and believe our solar solution to be a critical component to helping our customers save money and gain energy independence.”

 

A central station in every home? There’s an app for that

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using video technology to spy on Fido or your terrible teens while you’re away from home isn’t new. But now a California company has launched an app that will allow you to use a smartphone for the job, bypassing the need for a traditional IP camera system.

People Power, a Palo Alto-based software firm, is touting its Presence app as a way to monitor and protect the homefront for free via WiFi. “Use it … as a webcam, security cam, baby cam, party cam, you name it,” the company states on its website. “Customize and get meaningful alerts that give you [the] peace of mind you need knowing that loved ones are safe.”

The iOS app provides real-time audio and video streaming, motion-detection video alerts and two-way voice. The idea is that your outdated iPhone or iPad can be converted into a remote camera, with you as Big Brother—or Big Mother—watching it all on a similar device at your office or favorite watering hole.

And that’s all well and good. Like other DIY systems on the market that offer video, being able to see when Jimmy gets home from school or who is polishing off the last of the ice cream has its merits. As for Fido, now you can reprimand him from the cloud when he gets into the trash. Talk about Big Brother ...

Then there’s the protection angle. Users can program the app to record a 5-second video clip when motion is detected and then send them an email alert. If you have a collection of unused iOS devices, they can be arrayed to cover different areas of the home.

“We really are creating this disruptive app that really creates an inexpensive security system,” People Power CEO Gene Wang told the Los Angeles Times.

The translation is that the app user is now the central station. But does the average homeowner really know what that entails?

A number of questions immediately come to mind. For starters, what happens when Presence detects an intruder, or what the user thinks is an intruder? Should he call the police, or maybe a neighbor to check on the house? If it is an intruder and the intruder is hostile, what happens then? If the police are called and it’s a false alarm, how will municipalities handle that?

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. While Presence without question has some very attractive features—don’t forget that it’s free—taking it into the security realm comes with responsibilities that might be best left to professionals. As with most services, typically you get what you pay for.

Universal expands reach in Southeast

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guard company and security systems integrator Universal Protection Service announced the purchase of Allegiance Security Group from Trivest Partners, LP.

Allegiance has a big presence in the Southeast and provides "sensitive sites as a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)-approved vendor for the federal government," according to a statement.

"With the acquisition of Allegiance, Universal Protection Service now becomes one of the largest manned security providers in the Southeast," said Steve Jones, Co-CEO and COO of Universal Services of America, in a statement.  He said the purchase will allow Universal "to deliver additional services and increased value to all of our clients located throughout the Midwest and Southeast." It also brings Universal into new states, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In a statement, Brian Cescolini, chairman and Co-CEO of Universal Services of America, parent company of Universal saidl  "In addition to the government sector, the company also has premium clients throughout the U.S., which will add to our existing infrastructure and build our density strategy in all of our operational branches."

Universal Protection Service says it's the fifth largest security company and the largest private security firm in the U.S. Universal Protection Service is a division of Universal Services of America, which includes Universal Building Maintenance, Universal Protection Security Systems and Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.

SSN editors want to meet you at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Before you hit the ISC West show floor, I hope you’ll stop by our “Meet the Editors” event.

Rich will be coordinating newswires and doing other editorial projects from the home office in Maine, but (SSN managing editor) Tess, (SDN managing editor) Amy and I look forward to meeting you at the event, which will take place from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10 at the ISC West Media Stage.

The stage is right outside the entrance to the show floor—you can’t miss it. Stop by and introduce yourself, tell us about your plans for ISC West, what's going on at your company. Complaints, compliments, suggestions, scoops--happy to hear them all.

Checkpoint sells CheckView; Richmond honored for ASAP

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Checkpoint Systems, a global supplier of loss-prevention products and solutions for the retail industry, announced earlier this month that it was negotiating the sale of its CheckView integration and monitoring business. On Monday, the buyer was ID’d: Platinum Equity, a California-based private equity firm, which will make the deal for $5.4 million.

In a blog Tuesday, Seeking Alpha analyst Brenon Daly called the deal “one of the more financially lopsided divestitures we've seen in some time. ... The electronic security unit generated roughly $77 million of revenue in 2012, although it did run slightly in the red.”

The transaction includes CheckView’s CSAA Five Diamond-certified central station in Chanhassen, Minn. CheckView also sells digital video cameras and monitors to combat retail crime, along with fire and intrusion alarm systems for that vertical.

In a prepared statement, Checkpoint said its board of directors had determined that CheckView could better serve its customers as an independent, entrepreneurial and more focused organization. George Babich, who was named Checkpoint’s CEO and president on March 4, said that Platinum Equity has “a strong track record helping companies reach their full potential. … We are committed to support CheckView throughout the sale process to ensure an orderly transition with full continuity of service to customers.”

“CheckView will act as a platform acquisition and allow us to focus on the core business while pursuing organic-growth initiatives and strategic add-ons in a highly fragmented space,” said Platinum Equity principal Jason Leach.

On March 5, Checkpoint reported a fourth-quarter loss of $35.4 million, or 86 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $19.1 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier. The company’s shares closed at $13.43 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

ASAP honors for Richmond: Computerworld, which bills itself as “the leading source of technology news and information for IT influencers,” recently gave a nod to Richmond, Va., for a tech program that’s been making headlines in the alarm world: the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol.

Richmond’s participation in ASAP earned the city a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate, an award that recognizes “visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.” Richmond was one of three public safety answering points that served as charter municipalities for the program; six were participating by the end of 2012.

“Receiving Computerworld’s Honors Laureate acknowledges the outstanding achievement and advancement of our city’s Department of Information Technology and 911 staff in providing excellent service to Richmond’s residents,” Mayor Dwight Jones said in a prepared statement. “The benefits of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol program are tremendous as it reduces 911 processing times, reduces response times by first responders, and provides an extremely accurate data exchange between the alarm monitoring companies and [PSAPs].”

Vivint CEO buying golf course, becoming developer

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vivint has been in the news a lot since it was acquired late last year by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion. But the latest scoop is actually about the CEO of the Provo, Utah-based company, Todd Pedersen. He’s about to buy a golf course in nearby Orem and turn it into a housing development where he and others will live, according to the Daily Herald, a Provo-based newspaper.

But Pedersen also will give 20 acres of the property back to the city for recreation, the report says.

The paper says the Cascade Golf Center has been in business 45 years but has announced this year will be its last because it’s being sold to Pedersen for a residential development. The paper quotes Keven Stratton, Jr., who runs the family-owned golf course, as saying the economic downturn and competition from new golf courses have made business difficult.

Here’s more from the newspaper's March 21 story:
 

Todd Pedersen acknowledged Wednesday that he is in a business arrangement with the Strattons on the sale of the lease and is going through due process and will eventually come to the city council for approval. Pedersen's proposal would give him land to develop low-density homes -- approximately 12 to 15, with his being one -- but he would return to the city approximately 20 acres of land worth $7 million in fully developed parkland, sports fields, with infrastructure, parking, bathrooms and more.

"My wife and I have lived in the valley and we want to do something that most residents can enjoy," Pedersen said. "I want to make sure for the city management that the best uses will be made for the most citizens."

Pedersen knows many golfers in the community will be unhappy losing Cascade and he understands how they feel.

If Pedersen's proposal is carried through it will bring approximately $300,000 in property tax revenues to the city. He said that more than replaces the $450 a year the city receives through the Strattons' lease. Because the property is zoned R1-12 the plan Pedersen is proposing complies with the zone.

Cascade Golf Center opened in May 1968 after the city agreed to lease property to the Strattons until 2060. A second-generation owner, Stratton purchased the golf course in 1989 from his father and other partners. The construction and operation of the course has been privately financed. …

… The 53 acres owned jointly with Orem City along with the majority of the 67 acres of privately owned land that make up Cascade Golf Center are being sold. That includes the miniature golf course, the driving range, the small orchard east of the range, the Valley Course or lower nine and the back nine.

While the price of the property and the lease's selling price have not been disclosed, it is no secret that Orem and other developers see this as prime property, possibly worth as much as $200,000 an acre.

 

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