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Time Warner about to wrap up home security rollout

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I’ve been writing about IntelligentHome, Time Warner Cable’s home security/home automation product, since it launched in a few markets in 2011. Two years later, Time Warner is now announcing that the rollout of IntelligentHome should be complete by this fall.

Here’s what the company had to say in a news release today:
 

Time Warner Cable has announced that it will launch its home management and security system, IntelligentHome, throughout its Ohio and Wisconsin service areas in June, followed by New York City this fall. The upcoming launches will wrap up TWC’s rollout of the new product to all major markets in its service area.

Time Warner amped up the introduction of IntelligentHome this spring, launching it in Maine, Kansas City, Mo., South Carolina and all of North Carolina and also in San Antonio.

Time Warner describes IntelligentHome as “an easy-to-use wireless system that offers professional home security along with flexible features that allow customers to check in on their kids or pets, arm or disarm their security system, turn on a light or set the thermostat the way they like it—all via a smartphone, laptop or in-home touch screen.”

The product is professionally installed by Time Warner employees and also is professionally monitored.

How is the New York-based cableco liking security? I’ll be talking the company’s VP of IntelligentHome to learn more. Keep posted.

 

Will security investors McGinn and Smith do time?

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Security industry investors Timothy McGinn and David L. Smith are set to be sentenced next month and could face years in prison after being convicted of fraud earlier this year. But whether they’ll be sent to prison or just get probation and how much the Albany, N.Y.-based brokers owe as a result of their fraudulent activities are questions that remain up in the air, according to a recent article from the Time Union, an Albany, N.Y.-based newspaper.

The two men are seeking leniency and having friends and relatives send letters testifying to their good characters, according to the article.

A New York grand jury about one year ago indicted McGinn, 64, and Smith, 68—the founders of an investment firm that conducted dealings in the alarm industry—on a variety of fraud charges.

A federal jury on Feb. 6 convicted the pair of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, and filing false tax returns. The two—who also were the target of a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming they bilked investors of at least $80 million in a Ponzi scheme—are slated to be sentenced on their criminal convictions on June 28. Their possible sentences range from probation to more than a decade in prison, according to the Times Union.

However, McGinn and Smith, formerly partners at the brokerage firm of McGinn, Smith & Co., have filed motions asking a federal judge to overturn their convictions, saying the government’s allegations against them “are based on the complete failure of the government to attempt to comprehend concepts of investment banking and the inner-workings of running a broker-dealer.”

Also, Smith’s attorney, William J. Dreyer of Albany, is asking that the sentencing date be delayed because it’s not clear how much victims are owed. Here’s what the article had to say:
 

Dreyer wrote a letter to [U.S. District Judge David] Hurd saying there is not enough information available from the government or a federal receiver to accurately calculate the losses to victims. He said it will be a "large undertaking" to establish cash flows for each of the trusts and operating companies that were embroiled in the criminal case and also to determine the amount of back taxes owed by David and Lynn Smith, [David Smith's wife].

Also, Smith was acquitted on 14 of the 29 counts he faced, and Dreyer told the judge that makes "a proper calculation of the fraud amount the more challenging."

In addition, Dreyer said the government recently notified him it has pegged the forfeiture amount owed by McGinn and Smith at "four times" the $8 million listed in the indictment.

"No supporting data as to how such a number was reached was provided and this court should find that because the receiver is not in a position to determine a loss amount, there is no possible way that the government could make a logical calculation," Dreyer wrote. "As such, on its face, the government's proposed loss amount is misleading, obscene and further reinforces its complete ignorance of investment banking and accounting standards."

 

Stay posted here for updates on this interesting case.

Kratos has new SVP

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don EricksonAt the PSATEC conference earlier this month, SIA CEO Don Erickson was talking about government opportunities for independent integrators large and small. The contracts and jobs are out there, Erickson said.

One of PSA Security’s largest integrators, Kratos Public Safety and Security Solutions’ Public Safety & Security division has created a new SVP position to go after the “growing DoD/DHS market.”

James Cotter, who has been with Kratos since 2007, has been promoted to senior vice president of the Government Solutions Sector.

In his new role, he’s charged with working with Kratos leadership “researching, identifying and ultimately captur[ing] those opportunities.”

Ben Goodwin, president of Kratos’ PSS division called Cotter an “idea fit for this position.”

Ty Davis steps away from PERS to start new venture

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

After a three-year stint in PERS, Ty Davis has launched a venture to make the security world a more beautiful place: producing keypad overlays that can be customized to match any home or office.

Davis, an SSN "20 under 40" alumnus, got his start at Southwest Dispatch and then moved on to become VP of monitoring at Life Alert. He still sees a great future for PERS, but he also sees a growing consumer demand for something beyond the standard white keypad—something that dealers can benefit from as well.

"I'm not talking about the big guys, the ADTs and such, but the smaller dealers who need to be able to brand their security systems like anybody else," Davis said. "This kind of gives them a leg up on branding while matching the decor of the customer's home, which has always been a stickler for many mid- to high-end properties accent-wise."

Davis' new company, OWOW Designs, is catering to that niche. It just expanded to a 10,000-square-foot facility in Agoura Hills, Calif., where four full-time employees are producing keypads personalized with everything from family photos to patterns matching the foyer wallpaper.

"It's basically a car wrap—it's the exact same material," he said. "After the customer chooses what they want, you can still add your company name and logo. That way, you make sure you get that recurring revenue if the customer moves on and the next customer comes in, looks around and says, 'I need to call this guy' because it's his name on the keypad. It's the same way it works for the major alarm companies."

Asked about his tenure at Life Alert and PERS in general, Davis had nothing but good things to say.

"It was a wonderful experience," he said. "The move to a strictly PERS environment was an eye-opener. It was great to see another part of the industry and how it is truly a help to the elderly, providing them with additional protection inside the home. It's amazing how many independent dealers as well as major guys are getting into the market."

New venture takes MJ Vance wherever she is needed

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, she was exploring opportunities in security consulting after a stint with 1 Time Inc. in Nevada and the Central American nation of Belize. Now the CSAA’s 2007 Manager of the Year has launched a venture that combines her love of travel with her dedication to the industry: plugging in as a temporary central station manager whenever and wherever she is needed.

“It’s a new concept and I truly believe there is a market for it,” Vance said last week from her home base outside of St. Louis. “When I came up with the idea, I asked myself what makes me happy and what am I good at. … I used to fly many years ago for British Caledonian, which is now British Airways, and I was always ready to pick up and go. And what’s my passion? The security industry. So what’s tying me down now? Nothing.”

Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, said the “have manager, will travel” concept will appeal to companies that need an experienced hand to fill in at vacation time, to help groom a new monitoring supervisor, or to handle more pressing concerns.

“I just got a call last night from a prospective client who said he had a central station manager who had some personal problems and just up and left,” she said. “Although that’s not the best way to exit, it does happen, so what do you do? Who fills in until a seasoned manager is hired? That’s where my services come in.”

Vance’s experience includes eight years at CenterPoint Technologies, where she was vice president of operations and business development. She also has served as the president of ESA of Missouri, president of the St. Louis Alarm Association, and treasurer of the Missouri Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. She received the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Vance said she keeps the identities of her clients confidential and that her services aren’t limited to the United States. “I have passport, will travel. It’s current,” she said with a laugh. To find out more, drop her an email at mjvancemj@hotmail.com.

Post tornado, ASG employees tout 2GIG severe weather alert

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to some Oklahoma-based employees of super-regional security company ASG Security. Thankfully, all employees and employee families are safe, according to Bob Ryan and Ralph Masino of ASG, but many were witnesses to the destruction that occurred May 20.

All touted ASG Connect, ASG’s interactive home security panel which it OEMs from 2GIG. ASG provides the “Severe Weather Alert”  service (powered by Alarm.com) to its Oklahoma customers free of charge, Ryan told me.

Bobby Walker, sales manager in ASG’s Oklahoma City office, lives in Moore. On Monday afternoon, he saw that the storm was bearing down and went to retrieve his son from school, which is located two miles away from the Plaza Towers Elementary School where several children died in the tornado.

“When I got there, they said they were not checking any more students out and we needed to take cover,” Walker said. “I found the room my son was in and we were told to take cover. … It was the scariest moment of my life. I was lying on top of my son and it sounded like canon balls were hitting the side of the building. Thuds, huge thuds and [sounds like] a jet engine firing up outside the building.”

The tornado passed in a matter of minutes, but when Walker and his son went outside, “it looked like a bomb dropped, houses were obliterated, every telephone pole was down. It was mass chaos,” he said.

Walker had two more children to retrieve. The road was impassable for cars and Walker’s car was totaled anyway, so he and his son walked the five miles to the school his other children attend.

There was no cell coverage and in neighborhoods along the way, “it was rubble propped up by more rubble.”

He feared the worst, but as he and his son got closer to the other school, there was less and less destruction. All of his children were fine, and his house, a few miles away was not seriously damaged.  (Walker took the photos in this blog on his iPhone during his walk home.)

Walker and Joshua Jones, ASG VP and GM Oklahoma region, both said the 2GIG Severe Weather Alert was key to alerting many residents about the tornado.

Jones said his system alerted his wife to turn on the television. “She was home, but she wasn’t watching TV,” he said. Once she saw the severity of the storm, she called Jones and told him to retrieve their children from school.

“If you live in Oklahoma and you don’t have 2GIG with Severe Weather Alert, you need to rethink it,” Walker said.

“So many storms happen in the middle of the night, you never get the warning our 2GIG panel gives us. … it saves lives just like fire protection,” Walker said.

ASG has nearly 6,000 “2GIG protected customers in Oklahoma” and more than 2,000, 2Gig/ADC systems installed in the Oklahoma City/Moore, area, all of whom received a critical server weather alert on their 2Gig system,   according to Bob Ryan.

For more tornado coverage, see “Oklahoma integrator High Tech Tronics rides out storm”, Tornado spares CSG Office in Oklahoma City, and “Experts: Schools can prepare successfully for disasters like tornadoes”

ADT dispatcher hailed as hero by woman she saved from fire

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A life-saving incident in April in Wichita, Kan. underscores the importance of having a monitored fire alarm. It also is a heart-warming story in which an ADT call center operator gets to meet the woman whose life she helped save.

According to Wichita’s KAKE TV, the smoke detectors that ADT had installed in the home of city resident Jerry Malone went off around 5 a.m. on April 23 after lightning struck her home. ADT dispatcher Cherry Smith immediately called Malone from the call center in Irving, Texas where she works, but Malone didn’t believe there was a fire in her house, the TV station said.

Here’s how it reported what happened:
 

"I was in complete denial," Malone said. "I heard the smoke alarm, I knew it was malfunctioning. I knew I did not have a fire."

But after telling Smith to hold the line and stepping into the hallway to survey the situation, Malone realized she had a real emergency.

"My house is on fire," Malone screamed into the phone.

"O.K., hang up the phone and I'm going to call 911 right now. I'm going to call the fire department," Smith said back to her calmly.

Firefighters arrived and saved Malone’s home from being a total loss, the station reported. Malone wasn’t hurt and hopes to move back in by July.

 

But there’s another part of the story.

Smith, who has worked for ADT for 12 years, had never met any of the many customers she’s helped. But Malone considered Smith as much of a life saver as the firefighters, so ADT arranged for Smith to travel to Wichita so Malone could thank her in person on May 16.

Here’s what happened, according to the station:

Smith handed Malone a bouquet of flowers and then shared with her an emotional embrace.

"Words can not explain to actually meet the person you talked to and know that you are a part of the team that saved her life," Smith said.

For the firefighters on that life-saving team, Malone helped ADT present the Wichita Fire Department with a check for $5,000. Fire Chief Ron Blackwell says it's money the department can use to buy equipment and buy awards for firefighters.

"(The firefighters) will tell you they were just doing their jobs but it's always nice to be recognized," Blackwell said.

And, the firefighters, the men who installed the ADT security system, and dispatcher Cherry Smith are all recognized as heroes by Jerry Malone.

"When others save you, you've got to be grateful," Malone said. "You've got to say, 'Thank you.' You've got to mean it."

 

Cisco vet to head mesh network provider Firetide

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Wireless mesh network provider Firetide today named John McCool as its CEO. McCool comes to Firetide from Cisco, where he worked for 17 years. Most recently he was CTO and SVP of Cisco’s Global Enterprise Segment where he “led the “borderless networks initiative, which accounted for one-third of Cisco’s $46 billion sales in 2012,” according to a statement from Firetide.

“John understands how to build and scale a global business, and he brings a dynamic blend of management experience and technology depth. We are delighted to have John lead Firetide as we enter this period of expanding market opportunity and business growth,” Andy Ludwick, a Firetide board member, said in a prepared statement. Firetide is based in Los Gatos, California.

McCool will join the Firetide board of directors, which includes H. DuBose Montgomery, founder of Menlo Ventures; Duane Zitzner, former EVP of the Personal Systems Group at Hewlett Packard; Andy Ludwick, co-founder of SynOptics and former CEO of Bay Networks; Bo Hedfords, former EVP of Motorola and president of its global wireless infrastructure business; and Christopher Smith, director with Coral Group, a venture investment group.

Enhanced call verification now law in Georgia

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“It’s a good day in Georgia.”

That was the reaction from John Loud, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association, after Gov. Nathan Deal signed enhanced call verification into law on May 6. GELSSA, with an assist from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, had been pushing for ECV for years and finally saw it brought to fruition with House Bill 59.

It wasn’t an easy process. As HB 687, the initiative made it through the Georgia House last year and through state Senate committees, but the legislative session ended before the bill could be brought to a vote on the Senate floor, Loud said. Then, HB 59 had to overcome resistance from those questioning the need for ECV.

“Some of the legislators were asking us, ‘Well, if it’s so great, why don’t you guys do it on your own? Why do you have to make it a law?” Loud said.

The explanation comes down to competition, with some alarm companies in pockets of Georgia using ECV—or lack thereof—to their advantage while ignoring the problem of false dispatches.

“They tell customers, ‘We only have to make one call [for police dispatch],’ so people would go against alarm companies that are doing ECV—‘You don’t want to monitor with them, they have to make two calls,’” Loud said. “And now this kind of equalizes it across the board. It’s right for the industry, it’s right for municipalities and it’s certainly right from the taxpayers’ standpoint.”

Law enforcement worked closely with GELSSA on the initiative, with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police endorsing ECV. Loud said there were a few initial concerns from the state Fire Marshal’s Office, “but once they understood that this is not about fire, they came on board and supported us right away.” ECV will not be required in the case of a fire alarm, panic alarm or robbery-in-progress alarm, according to the statute.

Loud said success also hinged on “getting the right folks to adopt and carry the bill forward for us.” The legislation was sponsored by state Republican Reps. Tom Taylor, Kevin Cooke and Lynne Riley.

SIAC Director Ron Walters said Georgia is the fifth state to legislate ECV, joining Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida. The law goes into effect on July 1.
 

NorthStar Alarm partners with Goldman Sachs; gets up to $40m cash infusion

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NorthStar Alarm Services is recapitalizing with a group of new investors including Goldman Sachs and The Beekman Group, and also has expanded its credit facility to $40 million with Bank of America and Zions Bank, the Orem, Utah-based company announced today. The deal, which was six months in the making, is great for NorthStar and is another indication that Goldman likes the security space.

In a communication to employees, company president Jason Christensen said, “We believe that this is an ideal partnership, with Goldman’s previous success and experience in the alarm industry and Beekman’s proven track record of developing a culture of excellence within its management teams. This partnership will also provide NorthStar with even more capital flexibility to support our projected growth as well as additional industry expertise and resources that will enable the company to continue its path of excellence within this industry. … The future of NorthStar is brighter than ever!”

Founded in 2000, NorthStar provides home security/ home automation services in 18 states across the nation. The company said it has grown by more than 30 percent each year over the past six years and its RMR currently exceeds $1 million.

Goldman’s specialty lending group has indicated in the past it likes the security space. Companies it previously has lent to include ASG Security and Vivint—until the Blackstone group acquired Vivint last year for more than $2 billion.

The Beekman Group is a leading private equity firm dedicated to bringing financial and operational resources to lower middle-market companies.

John Troiano, managing partner at Beekman, said in a statement: “This is an impressive company with a talented management team and a well-defined culture built on the core values of integrity, accountability and service.  We are excited to partner with NorthStar during its next phase of growth and development.”

I’m hoping to learn more about what the new partnership means for NorthStar, Goldman and The Beekman Group. Stay posted!

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