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Investor speculates on Monitronics outlook

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greater visibility, broader market acceptance and (for some central stations) more wholesale monitoring accounts are just some of the benefits often mentioned in connection with the entrance of cablecos and telecoms into security.

A recent Wholesale Monitoring study by the Barnes Associates (co-sponsored by the CSAA and SSN) largely attributed the 19 percent growth the segment enjoyed in 2013 to the influence of the new entrants. To be sure, there seems to be a prevailing belief that the rangy, big-money advertising campaigns of such companies can be the proverbial “rising tide that lifts all boats.”

That’s not to say there’s no ambivalence. That was apparent enough in a recent SSN News Poll that dealt with the topic. A number of readers expressed concern about the long-term viability of smaller players in the home security space, given the influx of these major corporations who have already made inroads into the home through Internet and cable, and thus have that previously established “stickiness.”

That ambivalence was also reflected in a recent analysis by Rajiv Bhatia on Seeking Alpha, a crowdsourced platform for investment-based ideas, who discussed what the new market players could mean for Ascent Capital, the holding company of Monitronics. Bhatia acknowledged that the company faces “increased competition” from the large new cableco/telecom entrants, which he says are gaining traction despite unsuccessful forays into the market in the past.

Regarding Monitronics’ business model, Bhatia offered a mixture of encouraging and somewhat cautionary words:

“While management and sell-side analysts believe that Ascent is better insulated from competition via its dealer-only business model, Ascent faces upward pressure on the multiple it pays for its dealer contracts from competitors. Additionally, its growth through its internal channels is weakening.”

Those multiples, he noted earlier, are based on an RMR multiple of 50. Ascent faces “upward pressure on the multiple it pays to acquire contracts,” he said.

With more than 1 million subscribers, Monitronics trails only ADT in terms of marketshare in the alarm monitoring space. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the market presence of both companies as the cableco/telecom ads continue to appear on our television screens.

ISS is growing, expanding and rebranding

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ISS is growing, expanding and rebranding

Integrated Security Systems of Miami is getting ready to add 10,000 square feet of space to its headquarters here.

“We’re growing into new territories, but our back office and design center [work] is all done here,” Jeff Nunberg, ISS CEO said.

“We’re finalizing plans with the architect now,” Nunberg said. “In ten months we should have the new space.”

In business since 1962, ISS is a PSA Security owner,  that does CCTV, fire, access, and life safety and mass notification systems. It specializes in design-build projects and has in-house engineering, consultation, AutoCAD, construction and service departments.

ISS has two branch offices and employees “stationed throughout Florida and the Carolinas,” he said. ISS has more than 70 employees; its revenues exceed $20 million,  

The company is also getting a new look. ISS has a new logo that was designed by a student.

Nunberg said he’d spent two years and “tens of thousands of dollars” hiring professional ad agencies to design a logo for his business, but he was not happy with any of the designs.

“I wanted something that hit me emotionally,” he said. “Something iconic, so when you see it, you know it’s us.”

Last November, Nunberg spoke to fashion students at a Florida art college about running a business, as a favor to his cousin who works at the college. “While I was there I asked if they had a graphic art department and she said yes.”

Nunberg ended up sponsoring a logo contest. Tiffany Campos, the student-designer of the winning logo received a $1,600 scholarship, and ISS finally got a logo that Nunberg is excited about.

The logo will figure prominently at ISS’s expanded office, on its new Web site, its 60 vehicles, all of its literature and lapel pins and “other trinkets we give out,” he said.

It’s a big project and it’s “reinvigorating employees,” he said. “Change is good.”

“At the end of the day, we’re a service company and it's hard to copy our model, what we deliver,” he said. However, he believes the logo will “help my business stand out even more,” Nunberg said.

 

 

San Diego central earns Five Diamond Certification

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alarm Relay, a UL-listed alarm monitoring company based in San Diego, became the latest central station to earn Five Diamond Certification from the Central Station Alarm Association, the company recently announced. Fewer than 200 central stations in the country have the certification.

Among the most rigorous requirements for completing the Five Diamond program include the commitment to random inspections by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as FM Global, Underwriters’ Laboratories or InterTek/ETL, and central stations must also comply with quality criteria standards developed by those same organizations.

Five Diamond Certification also testifies that 100 percent of central station operators at a given company have been certified through the CSAA online training course, which covers all phases of central station communications with law enforcement, customers, and fire and emergency centers.

For an operator to achieve certification, they must demonstrate (among other things) proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false dispatches, and in communications with Public Safety Answering Points.

That latter requirement is bound to be vitally important as central stations around the country forge more partnerships with PSAPs, allowing the ASAP to PSAP program to expand. 

Guardian hires another Devcon exec

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I wrote recently about Barry Bruce becoming Guardian Protection Services’ new senior VP of corporate sales. Bruce formerly was VP of national sales for Devcon Security, the residential security company that ADT acquired last summer.

Now Warrendale, Pa.-based Guardian has hired another former Devcon VP, Guardian announced today.

Michael Brand, who was VP of sales at Devcon, joined Guardian on April 3 to become director of Guardian’s southern region, assuming responsibility for all sales and operations, the company said. The region includes branches in Austin, San Antonio, Tampa, Charlotte and Philadelphia.

Brand was hired by Devcon in 2010 and then worked for ADT after it bought that company. “During his tenure,” Guardian said in a news release, “Mr. Brand held the positions of area manager, regional director and vice president of sales, including responsibilities for sales and field operations for the residential, commercial and HOA (home owners association) business segments.”

Before he joined Devcon, Brand worked for Brink’s, where he was general manager for that company’s Deerfield, Fla. branch, the news release said.

His previous experience includes leading New Jersey and Massachusetts branches of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and being a sales training coach with AT&T’s broadband division, according to the news release. It said Brand has a B.A. in communication from Hofstra University.

In a prepared statement, Bruce praised his new (and former) colleague: “I have worked with Mike Brand in the past and have great confidence in his capabilities. I have no doubt he will help us achieve new levels of success in our southern region.”

 

A smart move by ISC, SIA and the WSC

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is an old-fashioned industry in too many ways, so I'm always thrilled when I hear news like this: the Security Industry Association, ISC and the Women’s Security Council will be awarding a full scholarship for a woman student enrolled in the new Mercer County Community College security degree program in 2015.

“This scholarship program is made possible with financial support from SIA and ISC and we are incredibly honored by their support and generosity,” Rhianna Daniels, founding committee member of the WSC, told me. “The overall goal of the program is to increase diversity in the industry and allow more women to gain access to the great opportunities available in today's security market.”

The scholarship was announced at the Women’s Security Council reception at ISC West by Ed Several of Reed Exhibitions, which produces ISC events, and Don Erickson, CEO of SIA.

“The lack of women in the security industry is not a new problem, but in this role [CEO of SIA] I really believe it’s something we need to draw more attention to. This is a small example of how we’re doing this,” Erickson said.

The Mercer County Community College security degree program will be launched in the fall of 2015. It is a two-year program that will award degrees in: project management; security integration; product technology and security sales.

A SIA committee came up with the idea for the program last summer. Key participants on that committee are Dave Lyons of System Sensor, Pierre Trapanese of Northland Control Systems and Frank De Fina of Samsung.

De Fina said the industry continues to struggle to find qualified candidates, even though jobs in this industry pay well and offer advancement opportunity.

In addition, De Fina said there’s a “tremendous lack to diversity in the security industry” and said one of the reason organizers chose Mercer County Community College for this program is because it “draws a higher-than-normal percentage of African Americans, Hispanics and women,” De Fina said.

SIA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mercer and is in the process of recruiting industry professionals to teach courses at Mercer.

De Fina pointed out that high grades in the associates degree program at Mercer can lead to a bachelor’s degree. “If you go through the program with a 3.5 GPA or better, you’re assured spot in a four-year program at Rutgers [University],” De Fina said.

Both the scholarship and the degree program are smart moves for the security industry. Congratulations to SIA, ISC and the WSC.

Tyco expands in Alabama

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Monday, April 14, 2014

I’m here in Alabama, my first time in this state, for a Tyco event—the ribbon-cutting ceremony for it new Global Center of Excellence (GCoE) in Birmingham. The event starts in an hour, so I’ll have more info later: Below is some stuff from the press release.

“The GCoE enables multinational companies to streamline and standardize their security systems around the world. The GCoE develops standards, technical specifications and detailed work plans that enable consistent security installations globally, while also providing customers with remote system audit services to verify functionality and compliance to corporate standards.

With the increasing number of global clients supported by the GCoE, the expansion of the center will allow Tyco to better serve clients with a single point of contact for their global security needs. Fortune 500 customers are seeking to streamline and standardize their global integrated security systems by consolidating the number of local system integrators they work with worldwide. Managing multiple integrators across hundreds of locations can lead to operational redundancies, quality degradation, compliance issues, and increased costs.
The center will also play a key role in the company’s effort to create comprehensive solutions for customers that encompass a range of building systems.

The new 24,000 square foot facility currently houses 90 employees, including certified design engineers, computer-aided design operators, program managers, system engineers and other specialists, who design and document global security standards for enterprise-level intrusion security, access control, video management, fire systems and integration. The GCoE’s diverse team has multiple competencies, including fluency in 14 languages, and is well-versed in the business and cultural nuances required to successfully conduct business in the 38 countries the center supports, so customer standards and technical specifications can be maintained and updated as needed."

Possible defect halts sales of Google’s Nest smoke detector

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It was big news early this year when Google decided to buy Nest Labs, a  California-based maker of smart smoke detectors and thermostats, for $3.2 billion. But now it appears that Nest Lab’s intelligent new smoke/carbon monoxide detector isn’t as smart as billed. News reports say sales of the device have been stopped because it’s possible users can deactivate it without meaning to do so.

The smoke/CO detector, called Nest Protect, is so smart it can talk to home residents to warn them if there’s a fire or dangerous levels of CO. But now a feature of the device that allows users to simply wave at it to turn it off has been identified as a potential problem and sales have been halted, Reuters reported this week.

Here’s more of what that news service had to say:
 

Nest co-founder and Chief Executive Tony Faddell said that, under a unique set of circumstances the alarm's "Nest Wave" feature, which allows a user to switch off the device with a wave of the hand, could be inadvertently activated.

Faddell, one of the creators of Apple Inc.’s iPod, apologized in the blogpost for a problem that was discovered during recent laboratory testing. He added that no customer had complained so far.

"We observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave could be unintentionally activated. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire," he said. "The fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately."

He did not specify that set of circumstances.

Nest will immediately disable the Wave feature—one of many innovative design elements that has won the company and its devices acclaim—in all smoke alarms that are Wi-Fi-connected while it works on a software update to fix the possible defect. It said the fix, plus regulatory approvals, could take two to three months to complete.

Customers without Wi-Fi-connected devices should either disable it or return it for a full refund, the company added.

Security experts have said the industry should take note of Google’s Nest Labs buy, saying this first venture by Google into the connected home could portend more Google home automation products and possibly a security offering.
 

 

 

Securadyne expands in the Heartland

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Intelligent Access Systems—a rapidly growing systems integrator that was acquired by Securadyne in January—has made a move in the Midwest, expanding into Cincinnati and tri-state region (comprising Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana).

IAS employee Kevin Grice has relocated to the area and hired Cincinnati native and industry veteran, Jeremy Brewer.

Securadyne Systems’ branch network is now in more than 15 locations, from Texas to Maine.

Founded by Ron Oetjen in 2004, IAS specializes in integration for critical infrastructure, health care, and higher education vertical markets. Oetjen now serves as SVP of Securadyne Systems

I saw Ron in the serpentine cab line at McCarron last week and asked him about a Twitter comment I’d seen about Jeremy Brewer—but I didn’t have a chance to speak to him at any length at the show. I have a call into Ron to get talk more about this move and to see what else is planned in the next month.

Monitronics, Security Networks enter final phase of integration

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Several months after Monitronics acquired Security Networks in a $507 million deal, the company has officially incorporated the more than 200 Security Networks dealer affiliates into the Monitronics dealer program, the company recently announced.

This phase, which will go down as one of the final steps of the integration process, brings the number of Monitronics dealers to about 620, making it one of the largest networks in the country. The company says it will provide monitoring services to more than 1 million customers out of its Dallas-based central station.

Bruce Mungiguerra, Monitronics’ VP of operations, said in the statement that merging businesses is “never easy,” but that “the hard work of many groups across both companies has kept things as organized and efficient as possible.”

Also being brought into the Monitronics fold are 60 field technicians who previously serviced Security Networks accounts across several regions, bolstering the company’s network of field service dealers.

Martha's daily report from the ISC West show floor

 - 
Monday, March 31, 2014

Updated April 3, 2014, with information about ISC West Day 2

Day two started with the fifth annual Security 5K, a benefit race for the wonderful organization, Mission 500. More than 700 people registered for the race and we raised $90,000 to help save lives.

We had a very special guest at the Security 5K events this year, someone who knows well the good work of Mission 500. Before the race, and also at the Security 5K race reception we heard from Dr. Diego Alejandro Garcia, a pediatrician who was sponsored at the age of 3 through World Vision/Mission 500.

Today he is Director of the Colombian Ministry of Health Vaccination Program..

He spoke about his experience with Mission 500 and what a real impact it has on young children.

I don’t think I was the only one in the crowd who found Diego’s remarks—and presence at the even this year—very moving

The Security 5k was founded by United Publications, publishers of Security Systems News and Security Director News, and we’re the organizing sponsor of the event. Other sponsors are Reed Exhibitions, proprietors of ISC Expos; and Mission 500. Core sponsors of the 2014 Mission 500 5K/2K are Alarm.com, Altronix Corporation, Axis Communications, Ditek, HID Global, Honeywell, LRG Marketing Communications, Pelco by Schneider Electric, and Safety Technology International. Additional sponsors include Cops Monitoring, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), Samsung, Brivo, Freeman, Monitronics, Qolsys, Bolide Technology Group, Security Industry Association, and PSA Security Network.

Find out more about this wonderful organization here. http://mission500.org/2014/

After the race I had 30 minutes to get back to the show floor where I got to participate (with Mission 500’s George Fletcher, Diego Garcia, Charlene Foglio) in the opening ceremony for ISC West Day 2.

Then the meetings started. Here’s a brief overview of who I saw:

I met with Jay Hauhn of TycoIS and we talked about the hosted video cloud service that TycoIS is planning to launch in June. TycoIS is working with Next Level Security Systems on project. I asked Jay how he feels about ADT getting into larger commercial security projects (greater than 7,500 square feet after its non-compete with TycoIS expires in September.) “Just another competitor,” Hauhn said.

John Romanowich of Sightlogix filled me in on the company’s newest camera—it’s faster, more accurate and the price has come way down. He said it “brings accurate outdoor security to the mass market.” And because the power requirements are so low, it can be wireless and run on solar. He noted that it's the trenching for wiring that costs money and necessitates design work.

Steve Gorski of MOBOTIX said he’s talking to lots of integrators about the company’s new VMS software, which he called “user-friendly, icon-driven, Apple-ish.”

At Speco Technologies, Laura Mastroberti and Jim Pascale showed me the new IP version of Speco’s mini-cams. I also saw their a recreation of their H2H training center they have in their booth this year.

I spoke to Pierre Racz Genetec. They’re showing Bosch’s 4K camera and he called Genetec’s collaboration with Bosch on the 4k cameras proof that "the best of breed is the way to go"

Had an interesting chat with Brian Schmode at Avigilon. We were talking about how much work the company does with IT resellers. He said it’s the end user that drives which reseller Avigilon uses, and said the company is definitely seeing more end users working with IT resellers.

Off the show floor I caught up with Marty Guay and Paul Barratta at the Stanley Security suite. We talked about the new version of Stanley’s eSuite customer portal.

Updated April 2, too late at night

It’s 10 p.m. and ISCW2014 Day 1 (Wednesday, April 2) is a wrap! Good day on and off the show floor.

No numbers yet from Reed Exhibitions, but it was crowded today. I heard from several exhibitors that they saw more people in the first half of today than they normally see in two days. I even heard that from one access control provider who is located in the more far flung reaches of the hall.

I started the day at the Axis Communications breakfast. I don’t really love events before the event, but the Axis breakfast/press conference proves to be worthwhile year after year. The theme this year was 4. Yup, you guessed it, Axis introduced its 4k line, the P14 Series. Fredrik Nilsson Axis GM Americas touted the P14 28E. It’s better, he said, because: it follows the ITU standard (4k res in 30 fps); it’s easy to install; the lens fits the solution ‘perfectly’ (IR corrected 8MP lens0; correct depth of field and image clarity; and , it’s $999 and “ready for outdoors.”

Axis folks talked about other “4s” as well. After asking if  people would be running the annual Security 5K race tomorrow, Nilsson said: “some of us will wish it’s a 4k tomorrow.”

Axis co-founder Martin Gren gave a brief (and really amusing) history of Axis and the company’s “culture of innovation.” He noted that 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Axis, and mentioned that the original name of the company was G&K Firmware. “Isn’t that a cool name?” he said.

We saw a demo of the P14 28E. Cool, clear picture. And we also saw a demo of Axis’ (4th generation) camera station.

Next up, was the BRS Labs press conference, where Ray Davis spoke about the company’s new Saas solution. This means that BRS Labs is bringing “the same technology that the US military, several cities and some countries” use to commercial customers. The company wants its customers to include not only the “Googles, Amazons and FedExes” but small and medium size businesses. It also has its eye on the residential market.

Davis called the offering a “pre-crime systems” that is better than an alert or alarm that only goes off once a criminal is on premises.

BRS Labs will be making a concerted effort to woo integrators, dealers and residential installers and will launch a full channel partner program this summer.

At Pivot3, Ron Nash spoke about VSTAC edge product “a first class solutions for a customer with multiple locations” and how the company’s VDI product line can help make mobile access secure.

Scan Source has a brand new booth, dedicated to its new “security on demand,” an educational and information portal that the distribution company launched today. For all current and (for a time)prospective clients, the portal features short videos with content that’s relevant to resellers.

I spoke to Joe Morgan at FLIR was the company’s new low cost thermal bullet camera ($499) which the company expects to “open doors to more vertical markets.”

Most of the afternoon was spent at the SSN Media studio doing video interviews with readers. I spoke to:

Joe Liguori, partner at ACT, an integration company (and Security-Net member) based in New Jersey. Ligouri is planning to grow his company from about a $13m to $20m in revenue over the next few years. He talked about the training-intensive culture at ACT and how that’s necessary to customer service, internal efficiency, and also to the planned rapid growth the company is looking for.

So, one of my favorite activities at ISC West is generally HID’s Denis Hebert’s lunchtime trends talk. He generally draws a great crowd and generates some good discussion. Well, HID had alternate plans this year, but Hebert agreed to come talk to ssnTVnews about trends. The most important, this year, he said, is convergence and secured identity solutions. We talked about HID’s decision to leverage Bluetooth LE (in addition to NFC) with its mobile solutions. Finally he talked about the complexity of solutions for integrators—and what HID is doing to help its integrator partners with sales and education.

Holly Tsourides, CEO of Matrix Systems, talked about the integration arm of Matrix, “Xentry.” She believes the newly named business unit has great potential to increase the services it sells to existing customers and to bring on new customers.

G4S Technology president Sam Belbina talked about providing the “total solution” to customers and how G4S is in a unique position to do just that because its sister companies offer monitoring and guard solutions.

Eric Yunag, CEO of Dakota Security, talked about what he’s seeing on and what he’s not seeing on the show floor. Incremental technology feature improvements he sees a lot of. That can be interesting, he said, but what he wants to see from manufacturers is the showcasing of security outcomes. He also talked about his frustration with standards and how this industry needs to feel a little more urgency about standards. IT companies—“have the potential to exert a technical advantage … and exploit a significant weakness [of security companies], he said, unless this industry gets up to speed on standards.

I talked some more on this topic with Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology. IT companies have their eye on the security space, he said. All integration companies need to understand that, he said. We also talked about Franklin’s plans to grow Unlimited Technology’s revenues 30 percent in 2014. It added 15 staff in 2013 and plans to add 16 this year.

At the Brivo Labs press conference Lee Odess talked about the company’s launch of its SAM API (social access management), which allows developers to create applications that allow people to use their social identities for access control to places and identities. He also demo’ed OKDoor which allows a person to use their social media identity to send a message when they arrive at a destination.

Among the receptions I attended tonight: DVTel, alarm.com, Affiliated Monitoring, Samsung, and my personal favorite Women’s Security Council. The WSC threw another great event to honor the 2014 Women of the Year. Read about that here.

updated March 31, 2014

It snowing and sleeting here in Maine as I try to get out the door to leave for the desert, and of course, there's also news breaking.

Video surveillance providers Vicon and IQinVision announced this morning that they're merging into what will be a $56 million company. Read details here. 

Also, NMC announced it's opening a new $6 million location. Check out the details here. 

Check back for news from the ISC West show floor. Leif, Tess, Amy and I will all be updating our blogs daily. On Tuesday, I'll be attending some meetings in the afternoon, stopping by the SIA event, the Security-Net event and a Diebold event as well.

On Wednesday morning, I go to the Axis breakfast. I go every year, and every year, so far anyway, it's informative and entertaining. I'm expecting the same this year.

After that, I'm heading to our Meet the Editors event. Tess, Amy, Leif and I will be at the SSN booth/ISC West Media Studio from 9:30 to 10. It's right outside the entrance to the show floor. You can't miss it. Please stop by and introduce yourself.

Also, remember to tweet using the #ISCW14 hashtag. You can see all the relevant tweets at the Security Systems News Twitter Wall, located just inside the entrance to the show floor. We'll be awarding an iPad Mini at 12:30 on Friday, April 4 to the MVT the Most Valuable Tweeter. To be a competitive MVT candidate, be informative and compelling and use the  #ISCW14 hashtag.

See you in Las Vegas!

 

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