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EasyLobby bucks the trend

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
If only because I'm tired of posting bad news, here's some good news from EasyLobby, which makes visitor management software:
EasyLobby, Inc. Reports Record Revenue and Profitability for 2008 Company achieves over 40% growth versus 2007's record performance Needham, MA (PRWeb) October 14, 2008 -- EasyLobby, the industry leader in secure visitor management software and photo ID badge printing solutions, today announced that sales and profit for its fiscal year ending December 31, 2008 were the highest in the company's twelve-year history. "EasyLobby continues to be viewed as the industry leader in the increasingly important visitor management segment of the security market, as more and more businesses and organizations are realizing that the paper guest book sitting in their lobby is not providing sufficient or accurate information about who is in their facilities, or why," said Howard Marson, CEO. The company processed a record number of orders from new and existing Fortune 2000 companies, local and federal government agencies, multi-tenant buildings, hospitals, colleges/universities and K-12 school districts, both here in the USA and abroad. The company also saw continued and accelerating interest in its ability to tightly integrate its SVMâ„¢ (Secure Visitor Management) software with over 30 different Access Control Systems, giving customers the best of both worlds without sacrificing any functionality.
Of course, they're not a public company and don't supply any real numbers...

Panasonic cutting 15,000 jobs

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Well, it's not like there's a bunch of good news to blog about. Amid poor numbers for Axis and all manner of dour predictions for the world economy at large comes news that Panasonic is going to cut 15,000 jobs.
Panasonic said it was shutting 13 manufacturing sites in Japan and 14 abroad by the end of March. It also plans to lay off about 15,000 workers, or 5 percent of its work force, by March 2010. Half of the cuts will be made in Japan.
Obviously, Panasonic is a huge company, and there's no real way to tell how the security division might be affected from that statement, but I'm going to put a couple emails out and poke around the Internet and see what I get. It seems that this is mostly a consumer thing, though:
Panasonic, along with Mitsubishi Motors and Mazda, also joined the rapidly lengthening list of companies to sharply revise their full-year outlooks Wednesday, with Panasonic now projecting a net loss of 380 billion yen or $4.2 billion for the year ending March 31, rather than the 30 billion yen profit it forecast on Nov. 27. Mitsubishi expects a net loss of 60 billion yen and Mazda 13 billion. The speed of the demand downturn in recent months has taken manufacturers and economists by surprise, and forced many companies to sharply lower profit warnings made only months or even weeks ago.
Basically, consumers, especially American consumers, just decided not to buy anything for a while. That might not directly affect security sales, which aren't really consumer driven. However, if you're trying to sell Panasonic video systems into retail, you might have a problem. Anything consumer-dependent is getting hammered right now. In other bad news, the Times says Angel investors are shying away from start-up tech companies. That could be bad for continued innovation in the security technology.

Va. wants to tax alarm accounts

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Do alarm business in Virginia? The Virginia fire fighters union is hoping, once again, to raise revenue by taxing your alarm accounts. Proposals currently in the Virginia General Assembly call for annual taxes on each monitored account of anywhere from $1 to $2.50 per account, per month. Yikes. John Chwat, NBFAA's legislative guy, says they could raise "tens of millions of dollars" with this scheme. He notes that a similar measure passed the Senate in Virginia last year and was defeated with the help of the NBFAA and the VBFAA. Chwat said that if this passes in Virginia, other states may look at implementing these kinds of fees. What should you do? Call the General Assembly, Here's the number and some talking points from the NBFAA If you live in Virginia, call the General Assembly NOW and vote.  During business hours, call the Constituent Viewpoint Opinion Line at 804-698-1990 or 800-889-0229 and a general assembly staff member will record your vote by bill number and forward the information to your representatives.  If you have employees or subcontractors with whom you work, share this information and encourage them to call.   If you do business or live in Virginia, visit, telephone, fax, email or text the members of the Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates who represent where you live, where your business is located, or for whom you are the security services provider and communicate your displeasure with turning an industry of mostly small businesses into tax collectors. Links are listed below.   Tell them:  The bill is a "tax" on businesses and customers in the state The fees originally envisioned covering just firefighters but has now increased to other state and local employees, increasing the bill's cost to the industry There is no limit to the fees proposed-in just one month since introduction, fees in the bill to monitoring companies have jumped from $1.00 to $2.50 and they are now considering broadening this legislation to local employees The legislation was not reported in 2008 despite passage in the State Senate The state has no idea how many customers nor businesses will be impacted to pay for the benefits It's unfair to single out one industry The following are important links for contacting the Virginia legislature:   If you are a resident of Virginia, you may follow this link to find your specific Representative and/or Senator: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform   For those out of state, the following is a link to the House of Delegates and Senate member roster. You may click on each members name for further information:   Representatives:   http://dela.state.va.us/dela/MemBios.nsf/MWebsiteTL?OpenView   Senators: http://sov.state.va.us/SenatorDB.nsf/$$Viewtemplate%2Bfor%2BWMembershipHome?OpenForm   Link to Committee Pages: http://legis.state.va.us/1_cit_guide/committees.html   Link to House Appropriations Committee:  http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?091+com+H02   Link to Senate Finance Committee:  http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?091+com+S05

UPDATE: Washington County, Md. false alarm ordinance

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
HAGERSTOWN, Md—A public hearing held Feb. 3 found the Washington County Board of County Commissioners discussing a proposed false alarm ordinance. The ordinance as proposed looked to collect fines from consistent false alarm generators rather than punish, with a high yearly permit fee, all alarm users, most of whom, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, are not consistent repeat false alarm offenders. Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said the ordinance passed, but not as originally proposed. “There were some modifications to it. We did agree to drop the fee for the initial permit, and we also dropped the business permit, as well as the reinstatement fees,” Mullendore said. “It permits us to do the false alarm violation fees. Those are still established at $30 for residential, $60 for business." Mullendore said the first two violations result in a warning, while the third violation is when the fees kick in, adding $20 per residential violation and $25 per business violation to the respective base fees up to a maximum of $100 per violation for residential and $200 per violation for business. A recent story in the Herald-Mail claimed that business fines were capped at $250, but the Washington County Sheriff's Office assures me that $200 is the correct number. The new ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2010. “That’s because we’re in the process of doing a consolidated emergency communications center,” Mullendore said, “and we wanted to be sure that was up and running before we try to administer this.” According to Mullendore, permits will still be required but will have no associated cost. If alarm owners choose not to get the appropriate permit there will be additional fees to pay. “There would be a response the first time,” Mullendore said. “The second time, if [a business owner with an alarm system] still hasn’t gotten the permit, then it would be $60 violation fee.” Mullendore said that to his knowledge there were no industry professionals present at the public meeting, held here at the Washington County Administration Building. “There were a couple of citizens there, but we addressed all their issues prior to,” Mullendore said. “There were actually no public comments whatsoever.”

Yet another security job board

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
It's a sign of the times: All of a sudden everyone's got a job board. Maybe you saw ours. It kind of whiffs. The service doesn't accept php files (or something like that) and implied to us that there would be a lot more jobs in the initial phase than there actually are. Anyhoo, it still might catch on if you post some jobs and resumes. It's worth a try. Also, if you're hiring, contact me and I'll let you post jobs for free (I think I have that power). Also, check out this new job board for those of you with security clearance. There are some videos and whatnot to help you understand the government hiring process (with that stimulus bill going through, you can bet Uncle Sam is hiring) featuring someone or other who's supposed to know all about it. All I know is senior technical recruiter Maureen Conte of Intelligence Consulting Enterprise Solutions, Inc., apparently speaks like she lives in 1954. "I'm always eager to assist job seekers with practical, real-world advice," says Conte. "Working with ClearedJobs.Net to help security cleared job folks improve their job searching and interview strategies via online video allows me to help job seekers beyond job fairs. I commend ClearedJobs.Net for taking the lead in helping our men and women in uniform to make a smooth transition from military to civilian employment in the security cleared arena." (You see why I hate press releases? It sounds like everyone made a pact to talk like a fifth grade teacher. Who uses the word "commend?") Anyway, layoffs are happening and people are looking for work. I'll keep posting things as I find them that might be of help.

Wichita PD to hold false alarm reduction meeting

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Monday, February 2, 2009
The city of Wichita, Kan. has announced it will hold an informational meeting in conjunction with the Public Safety Corporation aimed at reducing false alarms. All alarm installation and monitoring companies with clients who reside or do business in Wichita are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be held Feb. 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wichita Police Department. The Wichita PD asks that if you can not attend, or if you have questions regarding the city's ordinance or the false alarm reduction program, you contact them by email or call 316-268-4525.

Generating leads through gun dealers

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Monday, February 2, 2009
Smith & Wesson, which recently got into the home security business, and had a visible presence at ISC East this year, launched a lead-generation program at SHOT, a gun show that took place Jan. 15-18 in Orlando. The program gives fire-arms dealers material to display in their stores about Smith & Wesson Security Systems. The fire-arms dealers receive a commission for resulting sales. Here's the press release. I've got a call into Wayne Wahrsager, CEO of Smith & Wesson Security Services, to see how the program's going.

Is the bad economy good for business?

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Monday, February 2, 2009
I raised this issue a couple weeks back, but I'll do it again, just because another juicy article has wandered across my Google reader: Does the bad economy lead people to value security more highly? Well, one installer thinks so: Terri Williams' security-system business usually slows in winter, but this year is different. "We've had a record December and January," said Williams, owner of All-State Security Authorized Brinks Dealer in Teays Valley. Some homeowners are increasingly fearful of break-ins for two reasons, she said: Drug activity in their neighborhoods and the bad economy. "There's no proof to why people [commit crimes], but desperation creates desperate measures," said Williams, who does business in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Of course, if it's always slow in the winter, and this year is just a little bit less slow, then you have record months, but this is kind of compelling: "I've been doing it for about 15 years, and there's definitely a spike," Johnston said as he installed wiring at a Charleston home. "They've got me busier now than I've ever been." ADT, the nation's largest electronic security services company, also has seen an uptick in interest recently, said spokesman Bob Tucker. That's happened in past downturns, too, including the early 2000s and late 1980s. "Even our current customers who have a basic system are calling, wanting to upgrade" with security cameras and other extras, Tucker said. The cops say it's all media hype, but that's kind of irrelevant, isn't it. Even if crimes aren't actually up, the impression that they are, or should be, is enough to be good for business. This guy may sound like the voice of reason
Putnam County Sheriff Mark Smith had similar thoughts. "I still think that a lot of our crime in that regard is probably related more to drug usage than the economy," he said. "The majority of people who may lose their jobs because of the economy are not going to go out and start committing crimes."
but reason has never really prevailed in American society, has it? Is it ethically or morally sound to play on those fears and irrationalities? Probably not. Should you look a gift horse in the mouth? Probably not.

EMERgency24 donates $1,000 to volunteer FD

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Saturday, January 31, 2009
EMERgency24, a central-station alarm monitoring company based in Chicago, announced on Jan. 30 that it had donated $1,000 through its Responder Reward program to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, Company 10, in Bethesda, Md., on behalf of Splaine Security Systems of Kensington, Md. This Responder Reward donation was made to acknowledge the fast response by the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department (CJPVFD) to Patti and Michael Hellyer’s home in Bethesda. The department's speedy response saved the couple's three dogs and substantially minimized property damage. The photoelectric smoke detectors installed by Splaine Security Systems quickly recognized the fire scenario and alerted EMERgency24 monitors who dispatched the authorities immediately. During the ceremony, CJPVFD Chief James Seavey said that incidents like this highlight the important role alarm-system installers play in keeping our communities safe and the value of having a security system monitored by a central station. “This situation underscores the importance of having a monitored alarm system.” Sam Splaine, President of Splaine Security Systems, explained that security is a linear process. “If any link in the chain fails – the sensor, communication to the control panel, alarm transmission to EMERgency24, dispatch of the emergency responders – then everything else is wasted. A smoke alarm monitored by EMERgency24 is so much more effective than a system that only has an audible alarm. If no one is home, the neighbors won’t hear your alarm because of the way houses are insulated, but they might hear the windows explode eventually. Unfortunately, by that time, most of the house is gone and pets have no way of escaping. That sums up the importance of having a monitored alarm system.” The purpose of the Responder Reward Program, according to Patrick Devereaux, Senior Vice President of EMERgency24, is to recognize firefighters who put out blazes and to draw attention to criminal apprehension when the police respond to EMERgency24 dispatches triggered by monitored alarm systems. "The EMERgency24 Responder Reward Program was developed to thank firefighters and police officers for the invaluable services they provide in communities across America. Police officers and fire fighters responding to alarms is a vital function that makes our communities safer," Devereaux said. EMERgency24, headquartered in Chicago since its founding in 1967, is a nation-wide provider of central-station alarm-monitoring services with branches in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The company monitors 165,000 subscribers’ accounts.

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.

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