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Ringing in Broadview Security at the NYSE

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Thursday, July 2, 2009
I was on the subway early yesterday morning on my way to Wall Street to watch Bob Allen and eight employees ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of the launch of Brink's Home Security's new name: Broadview Security. I haven't been to the Exchange for a long time, but I knew I was in the right place when I saw, above the entrance, a huge banner that said Broadview Security. Things have changed considerably since the last time I visited. That was years ago, back in the days before electronic trading. What I remember most was a lot of people yelling and people waving pieces of paper. Last time, there wasn't heavy security to get in the place, and I most definitely didn't get to eat breakfast in the boardroom at the Exchange. It's quite a room, with a stained-glass skylight roof, a big ole vase, which someone told me was from Czarist Russia, and the biggest boardroom table I've ever seen. It's giant. I had a chance to meet in person a few key people like Bob Allen, Gary Samberson (VP investor relations), Steve Yevich, (CFO), Shawn Lucht (SVP, strategy and corporate development). While everyone knows what a valuable brand name Brink's has been, the executives were talking up the benefits of losing the word 'home' from their brand name. They've already expanded their commercial business quite a bit, and they expect to expand it more.Here's a story I wrote about that in April, Bob Allen said commercial makes up about five percent of overall revenues, but accounts for about 10 percent of new installs. Now Michael Dan (CEO of former parent company, The Brink's Company) has been talking about making acquisitions in the commercial space on earnings calls for as long as I can remember. Will Broadview, which is debt-free and flush with cash, finally follow through? Don't hold your breath. As one insider said, laughing: "We've been acquisition-free since 1983!" Both Shawn Lucht and Bob Allen told me that Michael Dan was right--they've been looking all along, they just never found the right fit. Shawn and Bob say they're still looking, but the fit's got to be perfect--the right company, technical capabilities, footprint and price. On the resi side, look for Broadview to introduce interactive services--email and PDA alerts from home, the ability to remotely program your home alarm system--in the near future. They're testing and retesting systems, they say, but the introduction is imminent. They're also looking at video surveillance for the home, but they're cautious because it's got to be easy for the installer and homeowner, reliable and, most important, not too expensive. Notice a theme here? Easy does it for Broadview Security. I also had a chance to talk to some of the eight employees who were on the podium with Bob Allen for the bell ringing. Dennis Stricklin of Best Security in Little Rock said he's excited about the name change. Dennis has been a Brink's dealer for 10 years, and like most, he was worried about losing the Brink's name initially. He's changed his tune over the past several months though, and now he's fired up about the new brand. Dennis Strinklin is planning to expand his company's commercial services, and believes the new brand will help him do that. (Commercial accounts for about five percent of his business now, but he'd like to have it be about 25 percent in the future.)

NBFAA swears in new Executive Committee members

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Thursday, July 2, 2009
Just got an email concerning NBFAA's swearing in of new Executive Committee members. A portion of the release follows:
IRVING, Texas--The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association swore in three new Executive Committee Members during the General Membership Meeting at the Electronic Security Expo (ESX) on June 25. "Officers, elected and appointed, are guardians of the reputation as well as the property of the association, and play vital roles in its preservation and progress. It is their obligation to act for and on behalf of the association and to maintian and adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct," said NBFAA Immediate Past President George Gunning, who swore in the new members. The three newly elected officers are: * Charles "Dom" D'Ascoli, Smoky Mountain Systems Inc., elected to one-year term as vice president/president elect * David Koenig, Capital Fire & Security Inc., re-elected to two-year term as treasurer * Ralph Sevinor, Wayne Alarm Systems, Inc., elected to two-year term as vice president.
More information on NBFAA and ESX co-founders CSAA can be found by clicking each clickable word.

Broadview Security: The next generation of Brink's Home Security

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
So what do you think about the news, announced this morning, that Brink's Home Security is changing its name to Broadview Security? Here's my story It's growing on me. The first thing that struck me was that the word "home" was conspicuously missing in the new name. I asked Bob Allen (president and CEO of Brink's/Broadview) about that and he said it's no mistake. The new name is meant to reflect the wide range of services the company offers to both businesses and homes. He also said the name, and logo, are meant to convey the "active protection" provided by Brink's. The tagline on the new logo is "The next generation of Brink's Home Security." LandorPrint Stay tuned for more on the Brink's Broadview transition. I'm on my way to NYC right now. I'll be on Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange bright and early tomorrow morning to watch Bob Allen ring the opening bell in celebration of the birth of Broadview. In the meantime, I'm eager to hear what you think of the new name.

I'm back! Plus, SIAC needs some support

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Monday, June 29, 2009
Well, I'm back from my staycation, which is, of course, where you don't go to work, but you don't really go anywhere... What that meant for me was checking my work email, and the Security Systems News website, but not doing anything with or about them. I also did nothing about the guilty feeling I had every time I looked at my last blog post about the last minute CSAA @ ESX tweet service, which is obviously outdated now... and has been since Friday, June 19 at 5:00 p.m. Oh well, time to post. I got an email from Mike Miller over at NBFAA on the 19th. The email is a plea for support from those of us in the industry on behalf of SIAC. From the email:
SIAC works for you whether you're a member of NBFAA or not. We know that good policies for the security industry are essential to ensure our industry progresses. We all need their help and, in return, they need our help. SIAC is a nonprofit that operates solely off of donations from y ou, the security industry. Their work has saved the industry millions of dollars by ensuring that workable policies are put in place. We need to ensure they can continue to support our causes. You can help by making a contribution.
Donations to SIAC can be made at their website or can be snailmailed to: SIAC 13541 Stanmere Drive Frisco, Texas 75035 SIAC has put together some info, found here, that explains how they help the industry. More info on SIAC can be obtained from SIAC executive director Stan Martin

Sam's on vacation - but these posts will tide you over

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Friday, June 26, 2009
I'll be taking a vacation next week (enjoying some rain and clouds by the lakeside even farther north of here), so don't expect any new posts until after the Fourth. However, since many of you just got on the blog bandwagon recently, let me introduce you to some of my better posts - and by better, I mean most ranting and overly critical, but also pretty funny, I think. Oh, and informative and interesting, too. Here's one on camera sales and whether they are or aren't really skyrocketing. Here's me being a grammar/syntax geek and going off on the compliment/complement wrongness that infests our industry. Remember the pain beam? Here's the coverage of my trip to Israel to visit security installations. I'll never get enough of the guy who volunteers to be tasered at ISC West. Never. My all time favorite press release. And, finally, Gosh, I almost forgot about the guy who got his lawnmower stolen. Seriously, this one's a classic. So, read one of those each day, get caught up on the blog in general, and pretend like I've been blogging all week since it's all new to you. See you on the other side of the Fourth.

In the near future, LILIN will be ONVIF compliant

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Friday, June 26, 2009
These are the kinds of releases you've been waiting for: Companies announcing they are making standards-based (or, in this case, specifications-based) products in the IP video world. Five days from now, LILIN will announce it has ONVIF compatible cameras and an encoder. (The press release, which came up on my Google notifications for ONVIF, is dated July 1 - not sure why.) Here's the canned quote you've been waiting for:
Jason Hill, LILIN UK Managing Director reported “This is a significant milestone for LILIN and the future IP CCTV market worldwide. I believe that standards have now positioned IP to take the market share from traditional analogue in the very near future and pave the way for making HD CCTV a reality in the next year or two. As an industry we now have to communicate the benefits that this and other standards are bringing to the End User and move the technology forward and upwards.”
That might be a bit bright and shiny, but standards are certainly nice. Analog already has some pretty standard standards (they're called NTSC and PAL), so IP is playing a bit of catch up here... Encouraging, nonetheless.

Will the NBFAA change its name?

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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Some breaking news from the show floor: Just spoke with Jon Sargent, past president of the California Alarm Association, and he said there's a movement afoot to change the NBFAA's name to the ESA - the Electronic Security Association. This would come into line with ESX itself - the Electronic Security Expo - and would encompass more of what the industry actually does, Sargent noted. This comes a couple years after another considered name change, when the organization almost went to ELSSA - the Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association. You'll see from the linked story that people weren't too keen on that. However, that was before ESX, and that was a much worse name. Apparently, the state associations will be considering the name change pretty seriously later today. We'll keep you posted.

ESX Expo Day 1

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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Getting for Day 2 of the ESX Expo and my 10 am ssnTVnews interview. I'm ready thanks to a nice run this morning around the Inner Harbor with my running buddy Gene Szatkowsky of Secure i. We saw a couple industry people out running yesterday, Dave Simon from Brink's and I think I saw Shandon Harbor from SDA Security as well. Didn't see any industry people this morning. Day 1 was good. The show floor was definitely bigger and busier than last year, though some thought the educational sessions, which were packed last year, lost out somewhat to the show floor. Hard to find the right balance I'm sure. We'll see what people have to say about that today. There was lots of action at the Security Systems News booth #1102. I interviewed former NBFAA president George Gunning, Peter Orvis of Security Solutions in Norwalk, Conn., Rick Sheets of Brink's Business Security, Mike Ferro of Anderson Fire Protection, and John Kochensparger, president of the Virginia Burglar & Fire Alarm Association. Check out the videos on our Web site home page, and there'll more reporting from the show in our newswire today. The rest of yesterday was busy with committee meetings and talking to people on the show floor. Last night was the Big Bash and Club Crawl. Both were fun, but, honestly, Baltimore just isn't the same as Nashville. It'll be interesting to see what Pittsburgh is like. I've never been, but Sam's tells me it's great.

Merger? We don't need no stinkin' merger

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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Remember how the National Retail Foundation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association were going to "speak with a single voice" and merge their organizations? Yeah. Not so much. So there's still going to be two big loss prevention shows, etc., etc. It was too good of an idea to work, probably.

Live blogging the ESX keynote

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I'm going to be fairly busy the rest of the day, doing interviews and hosting panels, but here's a live blog of the keynote address here in Baltimore at the ESX show. 10:00 - good turnout thus far, with all of the industry lions in the house. George DeMarco is telling people to shut their yaps and pay attention and the buzz is starting to die down. Now the lights are down and people are getting the hint. George: Welcomes everyone, thanks the sponsors, etc. 147 exhibitors, 2,000 registrants are the numbers he gives. I counted the companies in the guide and it was 132, so they had at least 15 late arrivals. That's a good sign. 10:02 - Ed Bonifas leads us in the Pledge of Allegiance. 10:03 - Bud Wolforst - George is a tough act to follow. Welcome, this whole event is our show. NBFAA/CSAA, it's the industry event. We own it, and whatever you contribute to it stays in the industry, so keep on coming. Introduces Mike Miller. His staff has prepared remarks for him and he'll read them. (Laughter.) 10:04 - Mike Miller - Welcome to this official kick-off to ESX, can you believe it, our second year. I'm excited to be here. It was just last year that the leaders of our organizations joined together to create this new conference and expo. Last year was an incredible success and this year momentum has continued to grow. We're incredibly greatful to the manufacturers and the vendors. Want to thank Cygnus and GE for sponsoring this keynote. It allows us to have this industry leading events. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Profits from this show will be used for the benefit of you, your business, and your industry. We've put together a tremendous selections of speakers, vendors, exhibits, and this is your show, I'm so happy to see so many of you here. Be sure to spend lots of time on the show floor. The vendors have put in a lot of time and effort and resources to come here and support us, and I ask for applause just for that. (Applause.) And get ready to be impressed. There are lots of products that are being launched this week. I believe we will continue to see growth as constituents realize the positive impact we can all have on our futures. 10:08 - Introduces Bob Haskins from GE to introduce the keynote. Bob - On behalf of the 6000 employees of GE security globally, we're very pleased to sponsor this address. Francis X. Taylor, our VP, and chief security officer. But before that, I just want to go through some of his qualifications. Prior to joining GE. He had a distinguished career in the Federal government. Most recently, he was assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, with the rank of ambassador. (I can't keep up with all this stuff, so I'll summarize.) He was a key advisor to Bush and Powell. 31 years of military service. Rose to rank of brigadier general. Silver medal, legion of merit, department of state distinguished honor award. Went to Notre Dame. He's got three kids. We're never sure whether to call him ambassador or general, but we're pleased to have him working at GE and have him giving the keynote. 10:11 - Frank Taylor - I'm pleased to be here. I'm pleased to be among friends. I'm going to give you my perspective as chief security officer for one of the largest companies in the world as to how I think about security. We're as big as the United States Air Force. Little advert for GE comes first. He's doing the whole thing where he previews what he's going to talk about. It might get most interesting at the end when he'll probably run over and I'll have to bail to interview someone at 11. Sorry about that. GE is the only company that's been on the Dow Jones since the beginning. I didn't know that. Healthy Imagination is the new technology initiative for looking at health care. (Is this where PERS will be housed? I think so.) They spend a billion on R&D. $18 billion in profit. GE filed more than 2000 patents in 2008. The GE power generating equipment creates a quarter of the world's power every day. (Is that for real? That's kind of crazy.) This sets up the challenge for the CSO (Frank). In order to secure this enterprise it takes world-class security to protect the people and operations. And most importantly, help our clients to anticipate and mitigate risk. We're a process-driven company. When I was in the government, you always got a kudo if you quoted the president, so I found a quote from Jeff Immelt: "Leadership in security and crisis management is about consistency...planning and exercising...it is (he changed the slide)." We used to be too passive. If we couldn't imagine it, we ignored it. But who thought 19 people who fly fully loaded airplanes into the sides of buildings. No one had the imagination to think someone would actually carry through on that. I submit that nothing is impossible to imagine. We have to be the people that are the first to say, this is possible, and this is what we need to think about. 10:18 - it took this long for the phrase "guards, guns, and gates" to pop up. Point is that that paradigm doesn't work anymore. Frank spent months working on the Katrina response, for example. Talks about the Tsunami of 2005, it took three weeks to discover they lost an employee. Today it would take 10 minutes to figure out who was where. Infosecurity piece of your business is going to become more and more important. They'll be asking your technicians about hackers and viruses. That will come into your marketplace and it's something you need to be prepared for. (It's really hot in here. Just typing is making me sweat.) Foreign countries are a big headache. They're in Nigeria, Iraq, etc., Very tough places to operate. We want to protect our people. When we can't protect them, we want to mitigate the crisis as much as possible. But when we get very good is when we anticipate the risk and mitigate it before it happens. 10:22 - What keeps me up at night? Global instability - Pakistan, the Niger delta, India, Iran, Mexico - we do an intelligence review of all of these places every day. Swine flu. We don't do business in Iran, but we have to monitor those events as they have an impact on the places we do do business. Yesterday, it was the train wreck in DC. Was one of my people on that train? Our people are everywhere. Swine flu. If we had not had a pandemic plan that prepared us for Avian flu, we would have been flat-footed when swine flu hit, and I think the US government has done a great job with swine flu. Then it's the normal stuff. Terrorism, which I hate to say is normal. The terrorist threat is global, and it's real, and it's directly targeting US multi-national corporations. Then there's narcotics, the war on the Mexican border, major shipping lanes for corporations, where goods are being brought across the border. Patriot Act says we have to identify all of our employees, otherwise you're fined. Counterintelligence. How do we stop Chinese hacking, competitors, people looking for our information. Every country's intelligence service wants to know what multi-national corporations are doing. It's a global challenge for us to stay ahead of that. And then there's just the problem of working in emerging countries, which means anything can happen at any time. Talking terrorism specifically: Are multi-nationals a target? Yes. Even in GE - a guy called YIK, an IT developer for our health care business in India. He was arrested for leading an underground terrorist organization, which he was doing while working for us during the day. These things are real and they happen every day. And Al Qaeda has told us they're going to attack religious targets, economic targets, technical and information systems, and western investments in oil and gas in muslim lands and western critical infrastructure. Some people say they're a bunch of bluster. But if Al Qaeda says they're going to do it, you can rest assured someone is planning an attack of that sort. Our employee was radicalized, he wasn't when we hired him, and that was their plan. They find people they can turn to their philosophy. Their targets are any one from the west that they feel threatens their goal of recreating the 14th century without any western influence. People say they don't see evidence of their employees turning. I submit that you don't need to see evidence. It's happening. Internally, Al Qaeda tried to get management level employment with a western organization in the Middle East, and there are a number of other examples. Why do they target us and companies like us? We're hiring, and that gets you a visa into the US, and multi-nationals meet the targeting criteria. It gives them valid rationale for international travel and residence. Our guy traveled here three times for training. Access to information, worldwide recruiting opportunities. So, we assume terrorists are inside the gates. To mitigate that risk, we believe it takes a lot of hard work. It takes us every day monitoring events around the world. (Classic jigsaw puzzle slide shown - are these mandatory?) Most of my colleagues are monitoring the same things every day. What does it take to make it effective? First, business leadership. Security and crisis management is a compliance issue for us. We've written a policy and I go out and audit to make sure that standard is met. And the business leaders are responsible for implementation. It takes competent security leadership, and when I say that, that means not just someone experience in running a force, though that's important. It takes a global perspective and global experience. Because you're going to operate globally. And we hire local expertise. I just hired an egyptian who knows the culture and the language. If I were to send an ex-pat, he'll always be an outsider. And we have to have matrix execution, building on the talents of all of our business to bring the expertise to bear on our problems. Travel safety: 1 million GE employees travel outside their home country every year. When Sully landed his airplane in the Hudson River, within 15 minutes we knew whether there were employees on the airplane, what business they were from, and whether they were okay. When Israel invaded Lebanon, within an hour we knew where our employees were and we began the process of getting them out of Lebanon. I thought I had left the intelligence business when I left the government, but you can't do security nowadays unless you think globally. So I've taken our guard force and created a global watch center in Fairfield, CT, who are monitoring events around the world and can initiate response. That's what it takes. Background checks are critical. IT Security is increasingly an area of importance. I don't own IT security, that's under IT, but we have a blood brothership, because the convergence is absolutely critical for doing security. 10:38 - (My butt is kind of falling asleep in this chair. Is my posture bad?) What this means for security installers and dealers? As you think about working with people like me, the things you need to think about is how you can help me get consistent global information, from my sensors, my access systems, all the things you provide to your customers. What I'm looking for is who, what, when, where, all the time. The right info leads to the right decisions. The quicker you have it, the quicker you can solve the issue at hand. If you have 80 percent of the information, that's probably sufficient information to act. Systems integration on a global basis. I get hundreds of letters every day and it goes into my trash can because it's offering me a widget or something "new." If I see something that's about how you can integrate, then I read it. But I need to know how it's going to work with my system. I get 10 calls a week, robo-calls, from suppliers who are prospecting, but I don't have time for that. I understand you're prospecting, but that's just not going to work. I want to talk about innovative technology that works with what we're doing. You need to do your homework to talk to me. Otherwise, your email is going into file 13. I want sales and technical people who understand what keeps me awake at night. I want to talk to people who understand my problems, and aren't just trying to sell their piece of equipment. And there isn't a bright shining line between those people. Great salesmen can make sales. But there's got to be a balance there. Understand who I am and come talk to me from a perspective of providing a solution to the problems that I am facing and dealing with. I won't name the company, but we'd set up an appointment to do security at my home, and they may not have known my role at GE, but they sent a technician to the house. I wasn't home. My wife was home. The technician did a great job of perimeter security, took his notes, and then I got an email: we can do this for x dollars. Never talked to my wife. Didn't talk to me. He just was sent to the home to do a survey, and that's what he did. I called the owner and said, you don't get it. I wouldn't have called you if I didn't have concerns. You didn't even talk to me. There have been 87 home invasions in my county. It's a growing phenomonen. I was going to spend big money. I tell you that story not to hammer that company, but it's the attitude that says, I don't need to ask you what your problem is that drives me crazy. And I dare say you've got some folks like that in your employ. Security doesn't have big pockets. What drives me crazy are sales reps making blind pitches. I'm too busy, so you've got to make the best of your 15 minutes. Making pitches about pitches isn't making the best of your 15 minutes. 10:46 - You've got 5 or 10 minutes to convince me you understand what's going on. You've got to understand the new world of security and crisis management. One guy told me he had great people because they were always hired away from him. I said, hey, I pay to train those guys. You need to retain those guys. One company we now have a global contract with thought they were a body factory. We made them understand that their employees are as important to me as my own employees are. In the guard business, attrition costs money. And your system must create data that I can use to improve performance. And reputation counts. All of the CSOs in the US know each other. And it only takes one bad experience for that to spread like wildfire. Reputation counts in this industry. If you always deliver value, you'll be okay. 10:49 - Questions start. Do you do regular intelligence briefings with employees? Yes. Today it's my view that every human being, every employee, is our greatest security asset. They help give me a broader force to work with. We spend a lot of time around employee awareness. 10:51 - Signing off to pack up. It's basically over. People are making joke questions at this point. Whoever Kurt is, apparently he's getting busted on. Okay - one more question. What metrics do you use every day? We measure compliance against regulatory issues (CFATS). We measure monthly how long it takes to do emergency notification. How long to answer the phone, how long the process takes. We measure how efficient we are at locating employees. Each month we run an exercise. It was three weeks before I got there, now we're down to minutes. Those are several. Now, really, see you later.

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