Subscribe to


Hawaii-based PERS dealer acquired

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tunstall Americas on June 9 announced its acquisition of Kupuna Monitoring Systems, a PERS dealer based in Aiea, Hawaii. While the number of accounts and the price of the deal were not released, Allison Frazer, Tunstall Americas’ director of marketing, told me it was part of an ongoing company strategy.

Tunstall focuses on supplying and monitoring PERS devices for seniors. As such, Frazer said the company is actively looking to have a larger presence in warmer climates, which tend to have higher concentrations of seniors, Frazer said. “Hawaii alone has over 40,000 seniors who we believe can benefit from our services," she said.

These accounts will be monitored from Tunstall’s 87,000 square-foot “Connected Care Center” in Pawtucket, R.I. Kupuna’s accounts were previously monitored by Philips. 

Frazer said that Kupuna would start offering Tunstall systems, which it hadn’t done previously, and will transition all existing Kupuna customers to Tunstall equipment. 

"We are proud of the work we have done the past 10 years to support the elder community throughout Hawaii, and very grateful for the trust people have put in KMS,” Cullen Hayashida, president and founder of KMS, said in a prepared statement.

“We believe that our local service delivery and strong relationships with healthcare institutions and government agencies combined with Tunstall's world-class connected care monitoring products and services will create new opportunities to serve Hawaii’s kupuna and their families,” Hayashida continued, in the statement.

According to the release, Kupuna is the Hawaiian word for elder.

Tunstall also operates back up facility in Long Island City, N.Y.

Huronia Alarms sees very low attrition rates

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I talk to central stations across the gambit—large and small, national and regional—but the one thing I always like hearing about is what makes each stand out. For Huronia Alarms, based in Midland, Ontario, that’s a low attrition rate and its status as a “boutique” central station.

Huronia has an attrition rate of about 4 percent, Kevin Leonard, Huronia president and CEO told me.“Most of that attrition is just because people have sold their houses. We don't have a lot of customers leave us [because they’re unhappy].”

“Because we’re smaller, we can do the oddball things. We do a lot of work for process plants like water treatment plants … where it’s not your typical burg or fire alarm that’s coming through. It could be a high-chlorine alarm, or a clarifier alarm,” Leonard said.

The company currently monitors about 6,500 accounts, mostly their own with some third party monitoring. Huronia’s account growth is both organic and through acquisitions.

Leonard said that an emerging market in the area is monitoring for seniors, as more people are choosing to retire within Huronia’s footprint.

Huronia’s central station is CSAA Five Diamond certified. In addition to security, it has departments in fire and life safety, home audio and theater, locksmithing. The company has about 50 employees, Leonard said.

Drako-Brivo deal and ‘the new security dealer’

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

There’s been a lot of talk about cloud services and managed services proliferating in the security industry, but “to a large degree it has been a head fake,” according to John Mack, EVP and co-head of investment banking at Imperial Capital.

Many of the so-called cloud products are not true cloud-based systems, and managed services is in it infancy as well, Mack said.
He believes that the news that Dean Drako, owner of cloud-based VMS provider Eagle Eye and founder of Barracuda Networks, has purchased Brivo, the original cloud-based access control system, may help propel the emergence of a new kind of security dealer.

“These guys will be the leader,” he said.

“My guess is that we will see the evolution of a new class of dealer focused on the managed services and cloud-based model” who will do high volumes of business with small- and medium-sized businesses, Mack told me.

The combination of Brivo and Eagle Eye products (the companies will offer an integrated version of their products beginning in July) would provide a “complete solution” for dealers to sell as a managed services offering to the SMB market and multi-site location businesses, Mack said.

This new managed services security dealer would have to be more like an alarm dealer who focuses on RMR as opposed to an integrator who focuses on install revenue. They would also have to be “sales oriented guys not tech-oriented guys,” Mack said.

But, they’ll have to have the technical sophistication to deal with SMB owners, he said.

This model involves high-volume work, which requires capital to subsidize the installation, larger dealers would likely have to secure a lines of credit from banks.
But the RMR would be much higher than the alarm model. It could be as much as a couple hundred dollars versus $40 for an alarm monitoring contract, Mack said. Importantly, the attrition rate for Brivo customers “is meaningfully lower than the 12 percent you hear about [in the residential market],” Mack said.

“It will be a great business model that can create a ton of value for dealers,” Mack said. With a lot of managed services RMR, that dealer would be an attractive acquisition target for ADT, Stanley, Protection 1, and Diebold that want to increase their presence in the SMB and multi-location business market.

Who knows, Mack surmised, the future may find a Monitronics-type business that runs a dealer program and buy accounts from security dealers who sell Eagle-Eye/Brivo-type products. “That would take bank capital- raising out of the equation.”

“A lot of positive things for dealers could spin out of this business model,” Mack said.

Imperial Capital advised Brivo in the deal.


Siemens Security Products now part of Vanderbilt

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vanderbilt Industries on Monday announced it has completed the acquisition of the Security Products business from Siemens.

The deal, announced in October, expands Vanderbilt’s footprint, R&D capabilities and product portfolio. The Siemens' division has been rebranded as Vanderbilt and is headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Joseph Grillo, Vanderbilt managing director, spoke to Security Systems News in November about the deal. Here's a llink to that story where he said Vanderbilt will look for more acquisitions.

And here's a link to a story about proprietary versus open systems. It's based on a TechSec educational session that Grillo participated in.

In Monday's announcement, Vanderbilt said it will expand beyond its presence here in North America and in Europe and is particularly interested in South America and Asia Pacific.

The Security Products division brings with it access control, intrusion alarm and video surveillance products. Its brand names include: Aliro, Alarmcom, Bewator, Cotag, Europlex, SPC and Vectis. Vanderbilt plans to retain existing brand names.

In a prepared statement, Grillo said the company has "a commitment to reinvest at least 10 percent of our annual revenue into new research and development, and therefore, look forward to introducing new innovations that exceed industry expectations and drive sustained growth

Monitoring companies called to action on NFPA vote

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The alarm monitoring industry is taking notice of the NFPA. There are two motions proposed for vote at NFPA’s meeting this year that could have a serious impact on the industry. This pair of motions directly refers to the NFPA 72 Nation Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which, in the current draft of the 2016 edition states that listed central stations can be used for fire alarm monitoring. A group based in northern Illinois opposes this language, and seeks to alter it, giving local municipalities more authority in the matter.

“What’s happening in Chicago is that some of these communities are operating their own monitoring center. … This [code] would enable that community to have an effective monopoly on alarm monitoring,” said Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Association and EMERgency24’s manager of public relations.

Lehan noted that, while the authority pushing these motions is from Chicago, it is still a national code. “This is a nationwide problem. If this can happen in Illinois … it could happen in [any community].”

Jay Hauhn, CSAA's executive director, agreed, saying that if either of the motions passed, “other municipalities may see it as a revenue opportunity and also seek to prohibit the use of non-government monitoring centers.”

“The big problem is: This is happening in Illinois, and it’s being challenged by the Illinois fire inspectors,” Ed Bonifas, executive VP of Alarm Detection Systems, told me. “The fire departments that feel this way the most can come out in force, because it happens to be here.”

The vote will be held at the NFPA’s 2015 meeting, at McCormick Place in Chicago, June 25. In order to vote, you must have been a member of NFPA before Dec. 25, 2014, and you must be there in person to vote.

“Right now the language that is in place … for the revised 2016 edition states that the AHJ shall allow central stations to provide this service,” Lehan said. The first motion, 72-8, seeks to alter this language, adding the prefix "When permitted by the Authority Having Jurisdiction,” again giving the AHJ the ability to disallow independent central stations as an option for fire alarm monitoring. This motion would revert the language to how it appeared in the previous, 2013, edition.

The second motion affecting this code, motion 72-9, would entirely strike the line referring to central stations,, from the code. CSAA, as well as others in the industry, are pushing for a negative vote for both motions.

“If either one of those motions passes, customers will not necessarily … have the ability to use UL-listed monitoring centers for their [fire monitoring],” Hauhn said. 

“The alarm industry here in Illinois has been struggling with the fire service that wants to monitor alarms and prevent alarm companies from doing the same,” Bonifas said. “It’s my contention that there’s a huge conflict of interest when the authority—the fire department—is participating in the business, and then is able to be the one to decide who else can participate,” he said.

A negative vote on both motions would not exclude municipalities from providing monitoring, but instead, ensure that listed central stations are an option.

“All the monitoring industry is trying to do is level the playing field so that government run monitoring centers must meet the same high standards that commercially operated monitoring centers adhere to,” Hauhn said.

“The 2016 draft of the code that’s being considered right now has new language in it that says that listed central stations can monitor alarms. … That sets up a competitive landscape; government can monitor alarms, and private companies can if they follow the code,” Bonifas said. “Competition is good for the consumer because it creates better pricing, but it also creates better service."

Wait, what year is this?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My colleague, Spencer Ives, has been keeping me updated on our latest Security Systems News Poll about women in the security industry.

What do I have to say?

Here’s what I say: I am appalled.

I can’t believe I am even writing these words in 2015. Some of the comments responding to our poll are unbelievable, so misogynistic that I can’t even put them on here. (Hint: It’s better for a woman to be barefoot and pregnant.)

While some respondents talk about how vital it is to have women in the physical security workplace, others—women—speak of how they’ve been discriminated against, how they’ve had to leave their jobs because of harassment; the “good old boys’ network” has a complete and solid divide when it comes to women in security positions.

I have met so many enthusiastic women in the security field. Dynamic, smart and successful women. I have attended Women's Security Council gatherings to honor women who have served so well and who do such a great job at the executive level.

I have also met many men in the industry who would never, ever, say a disparaging remark about their female coworkers. They're partners; they work to the best of their abilities to serve their customers. 

Here's to all of you who do such great job, no matter your gender!

Former Vivint CFO on the IPO

Wednesday, May 27, 2015's announcement that it will go public has a lot of people talking inside and outside of the security industry. Many of the insiders, however, will not talk on the record, at least not right now.  

I was interested in talking to someone who knows IPOs, understands the security industry and is familiar with, and I came up with Chris Black. Black is the former CFO of Vivint who helped Vivint prepare for the sale to Blackstone. He's also helped other companies go public. Today he works outside of the industry as CFO of Viamedia and as a board member of Sports Information Group which owns the Daily Racing Form.  

In an email interview Black called "a terrific company with a strong management team that I gained a lot of respect for during my interactions with them while I was at Vivint."

He said an IPO can "have a transformational impact on the business" and a positive affect on the industry.

"The IPO will provide them with access to another source of capital to continue to grow the business and invest in new products and opportunities. I also think it is a great event for the security industry as a whole. It serves as further validation of the space and will bring in new equity investors that may or may not have looked at security companies in the past,"

The only potential downside, Black said "is the amount of time the management team, particularly the CEO and CFO, are required to spend on investor relations activities including calls with equity analysts, investors and presentations at equity conferences and the like."

How might the IPO affect customers?

"This is really just another form of financing the growth of the business and shouldn't have an immediate impact on's customers one way or the other. Longer term, one could assume that access to public equity will allow the company to invest in the business and continue to develop new products and enhance existing ones either organically or through acquisitions, or both," he said.

Who are your brightest end users?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The alumni list for Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” awards for end users is outstanding. Past winners work for hospitals, public school districts, utilities, Google, retail chains big and small, Facebook, universities and major corporations.

We’re seeking nominations now for more of these young, intelligent and dedicated end users for our upcoming awards.

Please take a few moments and think of your customers: Who is the most up-to-date on the latest technology and knows what they need to physically secure their workplaces? Who is dedicated and passionate about their responsibilities?  Or, maybe, you just need to look in the mirror. Do you fit the bill? You are perfectly welcome to nominate yourself.

Honoring these men and women means a lot to them. I’ve heard from past winners who say the award helped them advance in their careers and gave them more cred with the c-suite.

In addition to being profiled on the SSN website and in our print publication, each of our past “20 under 40” end user winners, who we honor at the annual TechSec Solutions in February in Delray Beach, Fla., have added greatly to the conference’s discussions and networking. Many of them have served on educational panels at the event; some have become members of our expert advisory panel. All in all, their input is vital to the success of the show.

Nominate them here. The deadline is July 1. I’m looking forward to getting to know them.




2015 Northeast Security Systems Contractors Expo roundup

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yesterday, May 21, I headed down to this year’s Northeast Security Systems Contractors Expo, in Marlborough, Mass. It was great to catch up with some of the companies I met at ISC West, and meet some new ones. In central stations, the biggest theme I heard about was that regional shows help monitoring centers get to know their dealers, in person and face-to-face.

Just as I was starting my first lap of the show floor, I briefly met Russ Ryan, organizer for the show.

After that, I ran into Jessica DaCosta, director of sales for ESA, and chatted about the upcoming ESX show.

I also met with Worthington Distribution’s Nolan Male, director of training. Worthington is a security disitributor based in Tafton, Penn., in the northeast part of the state.  

I met with a few members of the Affiliated Monitoring team out in Vegas last month, but at this show I got to meet Jesse Rivest, company territory manager. Rivest was recognized as one of SSN's "20 under 40," Class of 2013. He mentioned that the Northeast Security Systems Contractors Expo is a good way to stay in touch with current dealers, and get to know prospective ones.

At Alarm Central’s booth, I got to meet the company’s vice president, Kerry-Anne McStravick. She told me about the benefits of being a smaller central station—Alarm Central monitors around 40,000 accounts, she said—like getting to know dealers on a more personal basis. Alarm Central is based in Quincy, Mass.

When I spoke with All American Monitoring at ISC West, I heard about its new offering: cameras under the company’s MeyeView brand. Lisa French, national sales representative, and Laura Hutchinson, national dealer support, told me that there had been a great response to the cameras since their announcement last month at ISC West and during demos at this expo.

Rapid Response is another company I got to meet at ISC West, but it was great to see Danial Gelinas, Bryan Bardenett, company senior account manager, and Ron Crotty, in charge of new business development/corporate training. Bryan told me that a big benefit to regional shows is getting to know dealers in their area, and hearing about the issues and concerns affecting that area.

I got the chance to briefly catch up with COPS Monitoring. Bart Weiner, COPS’ senior account executive, also mentioned the benefit of regional shows to connect on a more personal level with dealers and “put names to faces.”

I stopped by Centra-Larm’s booth. Scott Mailhot, company VP of operations, and I talked about the eye-catching booth design, which I could recognize from the sidewalk—before even entering the show. This booth design is the same one that made its premier at ISC West last month.

Daniel Shaw is the assistant central station manager for NEXgeneration Central, based in Providence, R.I. He told me a bit more about the company, defining the footprint for its 35,000 accounts as predominantly on the east coast.

Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies, walked me through the company’s various camera models and the variety of places they can be applied.

Tom Camarda, national sales executive for U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp., gave me a demo of the monitoring center’s recent integration with SmartTek, putting a GPS tracking and monitoring service into an app.

My day in Marlborough ended by talking with Keith Jentoft again. This time we spoke a bit about PPVAR, and the importance of finding common definitions—like the Texas Police Chiefs Association did in early April.

Got design in mind?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

You’ve heard the old real estate sales mantra: “Location, location, location.” For many in the residential security industry today, the new mantra is “Design, design, design.” 

At ISC West this year I met with a long list of security pros, from manufacturers to dealers to providers, most of whom proclaimed that on top of tech advancements their equipment was made “to look good.” 

They’re right. Their designs are looking good.

Panels, switches, sensors and more are sleek with a European-design feel. They will be less than obtrusive when mounted on a wall. No more huge black or brown boxes in the front foyer—these blend in. 

The equipment, mostly white and thin, reminded me of the first, very early, iBook I owned. So pretty and neat, small and clean. That was a number of years ago, and my iBook eventually met its demise, but I still remember it fondly, mostly for how it looked in comparison to other bulky laptops of the day. 

“This is the year of industrial design,” Avi Rosenthal, board member of the Z-Wave Alliance and VP of security and control for Nortek, told me early on at the Las Vegas show.  His comments resonated as I visited other booths after that. 

For homeowners, form is equally as important as function for all products, he and others said.

“It’s the ‘wife-acceptance’ factor. She’s the one who decorates, so the devices must look cool on the wall,” Rosenthal said.

Who wants something big, dark and ugly hitched to the wall just inside their front door? Not me. Neither did former ADT exec Christopher Carney when deciding on the look of his new Abode home resi system.

The pursuit of aesthecially pleasing design extended into the ISC West booths themselves this year. Honeywell, for example, had all of its products—from fire to resi—on interactive display in one big, nicely appointed space—think of an Apple store. 

Nortek had a new, interactive booth, too, with each of its sister companies representing myriad slick-looking products. 

How big a deal is this whole aesthetics thing to you and your companies? Are you feeling the need to adapt to the latest trends in home décor? Are you hearing this from your customers? 

If your products are less than pretty, you might want to consider how good design might add to your bottom line.