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Electric Guard Dog has new owner

 - 
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Electric Guard Dog, a manufacturer and installer of a solar-powered perimeter security system that is electrified and monitored by a central station, based in Columbia, S.C., has a new private equity owner as of June 14.

Snow Phipps, a PE private equity firm focused on middle-market control investments, targeting platform companies with enterprise values ranging from $100 million to $500 million, has purchased Electric Guard Dog from Ulysses Management for an undisclosed amount.

Raymond James & Associates advised to Electric Guard Dog on the deal.

“The company is poised for significant growth and we intend to meet growing demand by continuing to invest in sales, marketing, service technicians, compliance, and technology,” Sean Epps, partner at Snow Phipps, said in a statement.

Electric Guard Dog CEO Jack DeMao and the current management team will remain. In December, Electric Guard Dog CFO Nathan Leaphart answered an SSN News Poll about the benefits of being owned by private equity.

In 2014, Electric Guard Dog passed $2m in RMR.

Snow Phipps operating partner John Kenny will join Electric Guard Dog as the non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors.

ESX 2016 Report

 - 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Friday, June 10

I started the final day at ESX sitting in on a session titled, “Rethinking the Political Landscape - How to Impact the Industry through Legislative Action,” which was moderated by Robert Few, director, Time Warner Cable - IntelligentHome, and featured panelists Todd Baxter, regional vice president of government affairs, Texas, Time Warner Cable, and David Morris, founder, Modern Systems Inc.

The Panel emphasized taking a proactive role through industry representation with elected officials.

“ESA is currently tracking and monitoring 177 bills that could possibly affect the industry,” noted Baxter, who said it is imperative that security company owners get to know their state legislature, who can make them aware of impactful legislation.

“It is so important to meet and get to know them [state legislators],” he said. “They are there to represent you.”

Morris told his story of how he was able to block some legislation in his state of Kentucky that would have been harmful to security businesses by reaching out to his state legislators and getting the word out to others in the industry and within the state. “I knew it [the proposed legislation] wasn’t good for our industry,” he said. “Don’t assume the state knows what they are doing when it relates to our industry.”

Morris was able to work with his state legislators to amend and rewrite the bill to better reflect the needs of the security industry and professionals in his state. “Everything we suggested to the state they agreed to and added in the language of the bill.”

Although the bill died in committee, the panel all agreed that sometimes halting or killing a bill that is bad for business is an important first step. 

“The entire process is set up to kill bills,” said Baxter. “I like to tell people that there are two things you should never watch being made: sausage and legislation. It is very difficult to get a bill through and more than half don’t make it.”

For those looking to dip their toe into the legislative pool, Few said participating in the annual ESA legislative trip to Washington, D.C., “was the key to figuring out the process” for him.

For the closing keynote, Economist Alan Beaulieu, a principal of ITR Economics, returned by popular demand and did not disappoint, as he was able to mix economic forecasting with a wry sense of humor that had attendees both intellectually riveted and spitting out their drinks at the same time.

For starters, to get everyone’s attention, Beaulieu started out by saying, “Another great depression is coming in 2030,” as baby boomers continue to age and put pressure on our healthcare system and finances.

“We have 80 million baby boomers, but we have 3- to 4 million more Millennials,” he said, pointing out, “The Millennials are going to need all of us baby boomers to die off because we are going to ruin the economy for them.”

In the short term, though, Beaulieu said that he sees a mild recession coming in 2019, similar to the one we had in the ‘90s. But before that happens, he says the next few years will be very good for the country and the security industry overall.

“2017 was a good year—record high levels of GDP and job opportunities, and the economy is growing,” he said. “I expect the fed rates to go up, so now is the time to get that loan, and make that purchase or acquisition, hire new people.”

He said that it is also imperative to “make sure your training and retention programs are top notch,” and “plan for higher wages and energy costs” down the road.

Although he wouldn’t pick our next president, he did guarantee a “one term president,” because of the looming recession in 2019.

As for the Millennials, Beaulieu said, “Who knew it, but they are just like us, and want the same things we do—a family, kids and a house in the burbs. They will be a strength for our nation, but only after us baby boomers die off.”

He told the audience not to be afraid of hiring Millennials, especially at a time when it is so difficult to find quality employees in the security industry. “Just make sure you feed them,” Beaulieu said. “And I am talking actual food.”

Thursday, June 9

Day two at ESX 2016 began with the Industry Excellence Breakfast, which provided the perfect setting to recognize and honor the industry’s leaders with awards. It also featured keynote speaker Michael Jagger, founder and CEO of Provident Security, who stressed to attendees that becoming great or “remarkable” at what you do involves staying focused on your business model, and many times saying no to the numerous opportunities that arise for companies in today’s security industry.

He gave the example of renowned master chef Jiro Ono at Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, a three-star Michelin restaurant located in the basement of an office building that Jagger visited on a recent trip. Ono has made a name for himself, Jagger pointed out, by “intentionally not being bigger, staying smaller and being the best sushi chef he can be,” he said.

After the Industry Excellence Breakfast, I sat in on an educational session titled, “Video is the New RMR,” moderated by Scott Carpenter, president, Action Alarm Solutions, and featuring panelist Larry Folsom, president, i-View Now, Nik Gagvani, president, CheckVideo, LLC, and Daniel Forrest, CEO, Eyeforce Inc.

Carpenter led the session off by saying, “Video is the next market that will save everyone,” as it provides the opportunity to add a new level of RMR to your business.

Gagvani pointed out that in addition to the new wave of IP-based cameras available and the capability of cloud-based monitored video being readily available, “video analytics allows you to expand your monitoring capability.”

Forrest noted that although video is being used for small to enterprise commercial locations, he sees increased adoption of video on the residential side. “There have been some privacy issues in the past for the home but that is changing,” he said, opening up another area for increasing RMR for dealers today.

Gagvani added, “There are a lot of good use cases to draw on now in the home, so video will become more accessible to, and desired by home owners.”

Moving back to the main stage for the Public Safety Luncheon, featured speaker FBI Section Chief Philip Celestini provided an overview of what the FBi is doing to combat the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats. As a veteran special agent of the FBI, Celestini is the Senior Executive FBI Representative to the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, and has seen first-hand the financial and other impact cyber attacks have on the U.S. and throughout the world.

For example, ransom-ware attacks went from causing $25 million in losses to $200 million in just the last year in the U.S., as well as an astonishing $2 trillion in cyber crime losses worldwide. Furthermore, “80 percent of companies who have been attacked by ransom-ware are not reporting it to law enforcement,” he said, which is why the FBI is reaching out to the industry for its help in spreading the word of the importance of cyber security and working with law enforcement to minimize loss.

The second day on the trade show floor gave me another chance to check out the ESX Innovation Award winners’ products up-close and personal, and demo the latest and greatest products in the industry today.

Wednesday, June 8

The first full day at ESX 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas, began with a thought-provoking OpenXchange Breakfast discussion led by ESX Chairman George De Marco, featuring panelists Nate Williams, chief revenue officer for August, and Tim Colleran, director of Business Development for Qualcomm.

De Marco started things off right with some fun by announcing a special guest—Amazon Echo’s Alexa, who was given a seat on the panel to join the discussion. After some uncharacteristically witty banter from Alexa, it became apparent that it was not Alexa at all, but rather De Marco’s daughter, Lauren, who with the help of her father provided some levity before some serious discussions on identifying disruptive technologies and emerging trends in the industry today.

De Marco started the discussion by saying, “Every aspect of your business is about to change,” which as the day went on, emerged as a major theme for the show, as it reflects the pivotal time in the industry right now, especially on the residential side.

Williams pointed out that the industry needs to pay attention to the success of Amazon’s Alexa, which he pointed out is in 4.5 million homes, as “voice is the next big thing, and you will see an explosion in the next five years,” he said. “Voice control is just more natural and people want that today.”

“The big challenge,” he continued, “is integrating and bridging products in the home. Over time, we have to be able to show how devices work in concert, which is already starting to happen.”

After the OpenXchange breakfast, I sat in on a spirited session, “Go Big or Go Home? Expanding & Extending into New Markets,” which was moderated by Greg Simmons, co-owner/VP of Eagle Sentry, and included a great panel featuring Jeremy Bates, general manager and co-owner of Bates Security/Sonitrol of Lexington, Inc., Barry Epstein, president of Vertex Capital and Tom Kerber, director, Research, Home Controls & Energy for Parks Associates.

The panel was well balanced, with Kerber handling the research side of things, Epstein looking at acquisitions and Bates providing a dealer’s perspective.

Kerber pointed out to the packed session of interested dealers that today “a majority of security subscribers—more than 50 percent—have interactive services,” he said. “RMR growth, for the most part, has been driven by this increase in interactive services adoption. And security is the leading channel to the smart home,” providing an opportunity for dealers to increase RMR by being able to provide these options for their customers.

Bates pointed out that with so many smart home and interactive products and new opportunities, “dealers need to be careful what they chase and stay focused on their business model” as they look to possibly expand or grow into new markets or geographical areas.

For dealers who are trying to navigate the acquisition landscape, Epstein noted that there are certain criteria that must be met before a dealer decides to buy another company. The first thing to ask is “do they have good, solid contracts?” he said, “Because if they don’t have contracts, tell them to call you back when they have contracts.”

Prior to the trade show floor opening, the Opening Keynote Luncheon featured world-renowned business futurist and innovation thought leader Nicholas Webb, author of Innovation Playbook and The Digital Innovation Playbook, who raised some important questions to ponder in this new smart-home driven world we are now living.

Webb pointed out that there are a lot of hackers, so to speak, who will try to disrupt the industry by providing innovative technology or services that consumers today want, and provided examples of what Uber did to the taxi industry and what the WAZE app did to GPS devices like Garmin.

His take-home message to a packed house: “You either become a hacker—a disruptive innovator—or you get hacked by a disruptive innovator.” 

Note: Please check back here and at SSN Editor Martha Entwistle’s blog page for updates from the show.

 

Ready for 5G?

 - 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Central Station Alarm Association name is on its way out. At the CSAA general membership meeting here at the ESX show here in Fort Worth, Texas, members voted to change the name to The Monitoring Association. Here's a story that Spencer wrote about the name change a couple weeks ago.

Jay Hauhn, CSAA executive director, told me that 90 percent of those voting were in favor of changing the name to The Monitoring Association, "and the other 10 percent wanted to change the name, the only discussion was about what exactly the new name should be." 

The new name signals a change in direction for the association, and is among a list of improvements and updates that Hauhn and CSAA president Pam Petrow have outlined over the past year or so.

Hauhn said the new name better reflects what professional monitoring companies do. "Central Station Alarm Association is an old school term that was driven by UL standards," he said.

Today's monitoring companies are monitoring "things that are mobile, people, and more. It's not just the monitoring of fixed assets anymore," Hauhn said.

Petrow said that there are some research and registration tasks that the association will have to complete before the name change is official.

The OpenXchange breakfast on Tuesday morning featured a panel discussion moderated by ESX chair George DeMarco with speakers Nate Williams of August Home and Tim Colleran of Qualcomm, and “special guest Alexa Amazon,” (played with perfect timing by Lauren De Marco.) Please see photo. Alexa was seated in the chair between George De Marco and Tim Colleran.

The theme that emerged was how “new players” such as Qualcomm and August can help foster innovation in the security industry by collaborating with traditional security companies—manufacturers and installers.

Nate Williams  said there are two reasons customers want a smart home: "to save money or for more security." However, the smarthome devices must make the homeowners life better. "No one wants to be CTO of their home," August said.

Tim Colleran predicted that voice will be "the next big thing in smart home," but, he cautioned that devices need a smart filter for anything that's' being stored in the cloud. He talked about smart home features helping raise the historic 20-percent penetration rate of residential security systems, but it's important for security companies to pay attention to demographic data. A smart home consumer in rural Colorado and the smart home consumer in Los Angeles have vastly different reasons for investing in a smart home, he said. 

On the show floor later in the afternoon, I spoke to many of the exhibiting companies including Axis Communications, where I had a chance to catch up with Jennifer Bruce, who's in charge of business develeopment for Axis cloud solutions. Bruce has agreed to be an advisor for Cloud+ and I'm looking forward to working with her on the 2016 educational program.
 

__________________________________________________________

Day 1

Security Systems News editors have just arrived in Fort Worth to attend ESX 2016.

I'm looking forward to many of the "main stage events" and the exhibit hall, and I'm planning to check out a couple of educational sessions tomorrow including one on cloud technology. It's called "Making Sense of Cloud" and it's at 10 a.m. in room 202A. I'm doing some research as I plan the educational program for Cloud +. What's Cloud+? Here's a link to the website and here's a link to a story about Cloud+.

Even though it's at the same time, I'm also going to check out the "Risky Business" session, which will address what SMBs need to do to survive a cyberbreach. It's 10 a.m., next door in room 202B.

And, as I was winging my way out here today, I read an interesting story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle (from Monday) about AT&T expanding its 5G lab trial to Atlanta. According to the story AT&T's trial is already happening in Austin, Texas. In addition to Atlanta, the trial will also be expanded to Middletown, N.J. and San Ramon, Calif.

This shoud come as a reality check to security companies out there still dealing with 2G sunset. Here's a link to the story.

Doyle buys in Albany

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Doyle Security Systems acquired Albany Protective Services yesterday, adding 1,100 accounts to the company, almost doubling Doyle’s presence in the Albany area.

“It gives us a great expansion in our Albany market—just a much stronger presence,” John Doyle Jr., company president and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to the acquisition, the company had about 1,400 accounts in that area.

Doyle has been working on the deal for about 6 months. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Albany Protective’s account base is mostly commercial, Doyle said. “Their split is about 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential.”

APS had operated its own UL central station, but Doyle is transferring the accounts to its monitoring center in the Rochester, N.Y., area. “They were on the same software platform as we were, which was really helpful—for both their monitoring and their billing,” Doyle said, both companies used Bold Manitou for automation and Sedona for billing. “It’s been a very smooth process. It’s not 100 percent done, but its pretty close.”

Four employees from Albany Protective Services are joining Doyle. Former president and majority owner of APS, Mark Foster, is joining Doyle’s Albany office in a management position, the company announced. Ross Foster, who was part owner of APS, will work in Doyle’s sales, and two service technicians are joining the team from APS.

“Mark Foster—he just has tremendous knowledge about the industry and his customer base. Bringing him on board was very important to us, and likewise with his brother Ross. … Having them on our team is just a huge plus for us,” Doyle said.

The company now has about 27,000 accounts. Doyle said that it is not every day you see two multi-generational family businesses joining forces. APS, a third-generation family business, was founded in 1935, and Doyle is a fourth-generation business, founded in 1919.

Convergint buys fifth company in five months

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.—Convergint Technologies today made it five purchases in five months. And, there will be more, according to Dan Moceri, Convergint executive chairman and co-founder.

Convergint's fifth purchase of 2016 is: Corporate Security Services of Edison, N.J.

Moceri told me the deal expands Convergint’s geographic reach in the N.Y., N.J. and Philadelphia region, brings "really nice integration skills, product expertise across product lines we support, ... and a similar focus on the customer on the service side."  Corporate Security Services also has a "highly visible customer base with a strength in the financial and hospital verticals," according to a Convergint statement. Here's a story about CSS work at MetLife Stadium.

Bob McCabe, president of Corporate Security Services, and all of his 30 staffers are joining Convergint. “Convergint’s commitment to superior customer service was a driving factor in our decision to join their team," McCabe said in a prepared statement.

When will the acquistiions stop? Not in the foreseeable future, Moceri said.

Moceri expects Convergint's 2016 revenue to be about $600 million. He wants to continue to expand the company organically and through acquisitions, and he has the support of PE partner KRG Capital, which Convergint has been working with since September of 2012.

"We think by 2020 we can be a billion dollar organization," Moceri said.

Convergint purchased Dakota Security in January of this year. In April, Convergint acquired H&E Comfort Controls of Windsor, Ontario. and Enion, an integration firm based in Switzerland.  Last month, Convergint bought Total Recall of New York.

 

 

 

Smart home mania or madness?

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

With the flood of new smart home products hitting the market these days, one of the things I look forward to each day is checking my Google Alerts to see what new surprises this wild west of home automation and connectivity is bringing us now.

From smart toasters that tell you when your toast is ready, or if you like, that toasts the past night’s sports scores right onto the bread for you, to a smart-fridge that tells you when you need more milk, the number and volume of new smart home products hitting the market today is staggering. And, to say the least, a little befuddling, like the smart grill that tells you when your steak needs to be flipped, or the smart coffee maker that texts you when your coffee is ready, or … brace yourself … the smart tampon that reminds you when it is time for a change—huh?

As one of my SSN colleagues pointed out, you have to wonder if consumer interest and demand is driving this innovation or if companies are just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We both agree that more often than not, it is the latter.

The latest innovation, and I have to say I am surprised it has taken this long, is the smart home robot named ZenBo, which is basically Amazon Echo’s Alexa on wheels. ZenBo, and other robots like it that will surely flood the market in the coming months, can turn on your lights, walk you through a recipe, remind you to take your medicine or even read a bedtime story to your kids, if that idea doesn’t freak you out as much as it does me.

For every convenience that a product like ZenBo can provide to a family, you have to wonder if we haven’t flipped open the lid on Pandora’s box. When will the madness end, and how are dealers to make sense of all of these new products hitting the market?

For every interesting new product I read about, like the smart go-cart that Tony Fadell, co-creator of Nest, is designing to allow parents to geofence where their kids will be able to drive, there are five to 10 other new products that make you shake your head.

When it comes to sorting through all of this and figuring out what is viable and what is just, hmm, let’s say—insane—it is important for dealers to ask themselves: Will my customers be interested in this or are these companies creating a problem where there isn’t one just to sell another clever smart home product?

 

A 'smart home' snapshot

 - 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Smart Home 360 report, which comes out today from the market research company Argus Insights, provides a snapshot of what is out there in the smart home market today. The study looks at changes in the market from March to April, as well as overall trends Argus researchers are seeing within the quickly emerging and maturing market.

I caught up with Argus Insights CEO John Feland, who pointed that because the smart home market is changing so fast, “we are continuously pulling data around the marketplace from consumers on what is working and what is not.”

Overall, Feland said that Argus is seeing “year-over-year growth" within the smart home market, and equally important, the data is showing that security is still vitally important with consumers when it comes to taking that first plunge into smart home offerings.

“Home security is top of mind,” said Feland. “For those who are in the ‘do it for me’ category, the gateway use-case is security, so that is still what is selling and driving [smart home] adoption.”

And there is even more good news for traditional security dealers: For the ‘do it for me’ group, which is professional-installer based, the data is showing that when consumers try to do it themselves “they have been frustrated,” said Feland. When they work with a local dealer/installer, the “outcomes have been much better,” he noted.

From an installer’s standpoint, Feland said the key to getting someone to start on that smart home journey is simplifying the initial process for customers while providing a system that can seamlessly integrate smart home connectivity and capabilities without any headaches for the end user.

In the area of home automation, “If they [dealers] are not talking to their customers about Amazon Echo, they are not doing their job,” said Feland. “Amazon Echo is still a leader, and Alexa is still the voice in people’s homes, but we will see what happens when Google launches its product.”

In the DIY space, Feland noted that dealers should pay close attention to consumers’ frustration with the lack of support they are getting on the retail side. “If you look at where they [retailers] are failing right now, that presents an opportunity for traditional dealers to be that second date that leads to marriage.”

The report, which Argus released a sample section of today, is also available for purchase.
 

 

Answers in Austin

 - 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When I looked at the SIA update this morning, I saw a headline about the cloud and cybersecurity concerns. Want to learn about cybersafety in the cloud? Come to Cloud+ in Austin in November!

Cloud+ is the only conference where you can learn how cloud technology is reshaping the security industry, what the potential is for your business and what steps you can take now to enhance your bottom line with cloud-based technology. Cybersecurity is on the agenda.

Sponsored by Security Systems News, the inaugural Cloud+ took place in Silicon Valley in December 2015. This year we’re thrilled to be holding the event in the high tech hub of Austin, Texas. Cloud+ 2016 will take place at the Lost Pines Resort in Austin on Nov. 29 and 30.

SSN launched this conference because we believe that cloud-based technology is the new frontier in physical security. Just as early adopters jumped on IP a decade ago, early adopters today are moving to the cloud.
We’re looking forward to building on the success of last year’s event, which featured speakers from Google and Microsoft.  

As usual, we'll take a TechSec-style approach to the educational program. Expect interactive educational sessions featuring cloud experts from inside and outside of the security industry.

I’m putting together the conference educational program right now. Have a great idea for a speaker or session topic? Call me.

One of the sessions that's already lined up will address central station capabilities in the cloud. It will include cloud providers and will be moderated by one of the country's leading integrators Jeffrey Nunberg of ISS in Miami. Nunberg will be asking the hard questions that all integrators want answered: How is it done? What are the options? Which integrators will benefit the most from moving monitoring to the cloud? What kind of the front-end investment is required and what kind of ROI should integrators and end users expect?.

Stay tuned for more on the educational program.

One of the coolest things about Cloud+ is the exhibit hall: It’s solely focused on cloud-based technology and it’s the only place you can see physical security cloud technologies side-by-side in one room.

Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo, and one of my Cloud+ advisors, had this to say about Austin: “Austin is perfect because it combines great accessibility for travelers, a very strong tech-focused business community, and lots of local culture for those who want to get out and do something memorable with colleagues or customers.”

Yes! Austin is not your old-school, typical-security-industry-style convention location. In addition to the fact that every important high-tech end user has an office here, I’m convinced you cannot find a bad musician in the town.

It’s also home to a first -class university, restaurant options galore, and there’s easy access to the great outdoors.

Mark your calendar for Cloud+, Nov. 29-30, 2016. Here's a link to the Cloud+ website.

Abode brings professional monitoring to its DIY systems

 - 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Abode, a DIY security company that got crowdfunded last year, is now offering professional monitoring—full time or on-demand—from UCC, and the company is actively looking for partnerships with security companies.

“We always had the plan to introduce [monitoring options], but our goal first was to get the product out in peoples’ hands and really drive some of the early feedback to actually make our product better, before we went down the road of charging people for services,” Chris Carney, abode’s founder and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to starting abode, Carney was in the traditional security space, working with ADT and Tyco.

The company offers its system with three plans. Its “Basic” plan is MIY with professional monitoring on-demand with no monthly fee. The “Connect” plan offers everything in the basic plan with a 3G cellular back up for $10 a month. Abode’s “Connect + Secure” plan gives users all the functionality of its Connect plan with full professional monitoring, for $30 per month.

The company started shipping products to consumers in November and currently has 1,000 users in 27 countries. “Our goal is to hit 10,000 users in our first twelve months,” Carney said. Users outside the U.S. are on the non-monitored option, but the company is currently integrating with foreign central stations to support other plans, he said.

Abode launched its monitoring options last week. The company offers two options for on-demand monitoring: $8 for three days or $15 for one week.

Abode is currently only sold directly to consumer, but that could change. “We do want to look at the security space as a place to partner with companies,” Carney said. This partnership would appeal to companies that want a DIY offering in their portfolio. Partnering companies would have abode accounts monitored through UCC, he said.

“We can get partners up an running on a pilot in a few weeks,” Carney said. “Our goal is to maintain our brand as part of these relationships, we would be willing to discuss other branding solutions with dealers on a case by case basis.”

Dealers would own the accounts and the possible RMR. “Our solution will also provide the dealers the opportunity to become the trusted advisor for the users entire connected home in addition to their security consultant,” Carney said.

The abode system can also verify alarms which can reduce false alarms. “Every system that we send has visual verification of events,” abode co-founder Brent Franks said.

“We’re focused 100 percent on security, but essentially our product is a smart home in a box,” Carney said. “We also have the ability to add other third party devices that are ZigBee or Z-Wave.” 

The insurance space is another area for possible partnerships, according to Carney. This could include a “co–branded solution directly sold by the partner to their customers as a security offering [or] offering the abode branded solution to their customers as way for their policy holders to save money on their insurance. These are still in testing stage, but look to be a very viable channel for our fully integrated solution.”

News from Affiliated's Catalyst

 - 
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thursday, Day 2

This morning I got to speak with Ron Davis, president of Davis Group, and Adam Matlin, COO of Think Protection and one of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2015.

The first session was presented by Michele Shuster, founding partner at MacMurray Petersen & Shuster, “So You Want to Work with a Telemarketer: 7 Essential Tips.” Regulations around telemarketing are a serious issue, and carry with it large detriments to a company’s bottom line. Avoid assisting and facilitating liability, she said; "You are as responsible for your marketers as if you were doing it yourself." Tips included making sure that telemarketing scripts are compliant with both federal and state regulations and being aware of riskier practices like calling or texting a cellphone or using pre-recorded messages.

“Mobile Mania: Catch the Wave of Mobile PERS,” the day’s second session featured panelists Matt Campbell, Nortek Security and Control SVP of sales and business development, and Jake Chandler, co-founder of LiveFree Emergency Response. The session was moderated by Jesse Rivest, Regional sales manager for Affiliated Monitoring and an SSN “20 under 40” from the Class of 2013.

When Rivest asked about the biggest points to selling mPERS. Chandler said that it’s water resistant, ready for future communications with 3G, and that it can be strapped to the wrist. Campbell said that “really defining the user as someone who's active," helps, along with fall detection technology.

The battery life isn’t a challenge, Campbell said, because now users are more conditioned to know that they have to charge it at night. Chandler said that it’s important to know when a user is best suited for a PERS instead of a mobile PERS. “A lot of seniors should not have mobile PERS," Chandler said, because there are some customers that do not have the capability to remember to charge the system every night.

In the last session, “Executive Spotlight: How I Grew a Multi-Channel PERS Company,” Ritch Haselden, vice president of sales for Essence USA, talked about best practices for developing a PERS business. Before working for Essence, Haselden was with ResponseLink, PERS provider in the U.S., in charge of the company’s revenue creation.

Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim asked Haselden about who the most important first hires for a PERS company would be, “I would have a very strong operational person and a strong marketing person.”

He stressed the importance of finding a person who is in contact with seniors who were potential customers, and believed the system could help them. Haselden said he would take the effort of "Making sure that we knew that they cared about the customer."

Haselden also advised spending time “looking at referrals that were coming in and where they were coming from."

I thought it was a very informative conference, with lots of knowledgeable people in the PERS side of the industry. Catalyst will be in Florida again next year, also in May. It’ll be a special one, Affiliated founder Stanley Oppenheim said, as it will coincide with Affiliated’s 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, Day 1

The first day started off well for me, I got to have breakfast with Keith Jentoft, who is now part of the integration team at Honeywell following the company's acquisition of RSI, and David Stang, founder and president of Stang Capital Alliance. 

Zydor, as the event's emcee, started by giving an overview of the conference, saying that it is now "the largest PERS conference ever." He also underlined the value of networking at Catalyst, "We believe that the relationships that you create over the next few days are just as important as the content." Zydor backed this up by having each attendee in the room introduce themselves.

Zydor then handed the microphone to Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim, who projected a bright future for the PERS industry. He said that in 2030, just 14 years away, there will be 72 million people in the 65+ demographic, and these new seniors might be more tech savvy, given the current 30 percent prevalence of smartphones in the age group. He addressed mPERS. which has an average sign up age of 78, compared to traditional PERS' average age of sign up at 81. "'That is a meaningful reduction in years," he said. "Mobile PERS are bringing in younger users that will stay with us longer."

Oppenheim then announcce CareAlert priority group chat, a new offering exclusive for Affiliated dealers. When a PERS user activates their system, Affiliated's monitoing center sends out a text message to as many as four family or friends of the user. The text message contains a link that opens a group chat between the recipients. The recipeients can then discuss the user's condition, and even hit the 'On My Way' button, to let the other friends or family members know theyr'e headed to check on the user. This software was developed entirely in-house. 

The first session was the conference's first executive spotlight, "The Complete Guide to Building a PERS Company," featuring Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian. He said he focuses on culture and picking the right people. "When you go through the wrong people, you learn how to hire the right people," he said. 

He also spoke about hiring Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, as the company's spokesperson. Gross said that Henderson had some apprehension, not wanting to be portrayed "on the floor crawling around in bad shape." Gross said this was perfect, Medical Guardian wanted to let customers know that not ever PERS user is in failing health.

The second session was "Benchmarking: Is Your Sales Technology Holding You Back?" with Moderator: Matt Solomon, Affiliated director of software solutions, and panelists Nick Delis, Five9 regional VP enterprise sales, and Michael Marks, Perennial Software, co-founder. Solomon introduced the session by saying, "You can't be a successful sales and marketing organization if you don't have the right tools." With phone calls as such a big part of the sales and marketing job, companies need to monitor that activity, and that's one of the things that Five9's cloud-based software does. Marks said that CRM is made up of two components, the initial sales and then keeping the customers happy. Perennial's offerings include AlarmBiller and SedonaOffice.  

For the keynote presentation, "Managing in the Majors: Running a Big League Team," Bobby Valentine, a former professional baseball player and manager, got onstage to discuss his views on forming a team. Valentine first addressed the idea of luck and the role that plays, "If we all think it's about us ... I think we're making a mistake." Being in the moment is crucial, and that means that means to enjoy what you're doing now because you don't know what's going to happen later." And respect is key, "Teams that win understand respect, and the individuals usually respect themselves, respect the competition, and respect their teammates."

Tuesday night

I arrived this afternoon in Naples, Fla., to attend Affiliated's new PERS conference Catalyst, focused on the sales and marketing of PERS systems. The event began with a nice reception, where I got to catch up with Affiliated's managing director Mike Zydor and president Stanley Oppenheim. It's interest to see people gathered from all sections of the industry; PERS manufacturers, PERS dealers, those involved in insurance around the industry, and professionals from the banking world.

I met a lot of people tonight, but want to highlight a few. I enjoyed meeting Cathy Rempel, president of the California Alarm Association. It was nice seeing Yaniv Amir, president for Essence USA—which recently won an ESX Innovation Award. I had a great conversation with Chris Masse, technical sales manager, US corporate accounts for Tyco Security Products. He told me about how the smart home works well for a PERS user, such as automating lights to help users that have difficulty moving. I also got the chance to speak to Scot McGehee, director of operations for Climax. 

Check back here for daily updates on the conference.

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