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New positions at ADS, Rapid Response

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Updated Feb. 13, 2015

Alarm Detection Systems, based in Aurora, Ill., sought to strengthen its executive team by promoting six people to new roles. And today, as I write this, Rapid Response is looking to fill 70 or more positions for its headquarters in Syracuse N.Y.

As I’m looking over the current events of the industry, growth has been quite the theme, and these are companies that are growing by notable proportions.

At ADS, Amy Becker will become VP and Controller; Nick Bonifas, Corporate Counsel; Ken Mish, VP of Alarm Service and Call Center Operations; Peggy Raper, Call Center Manager; Rick Raper, VP of Central Station Services, Mark Schramm, VP and CIO.

“The alarm industry has changed more in the last five years than in the previous fifty. We need the talent, dedication and intelligence of every employee for ADS to remain the leading provider of security services. Fortunately, we have a committed staff that is up to the task,” said Bob Bonifas, ADS founder and CEO in a prepared statement.

Rapid Response is holding a career fair today to find candidates for openings, most of which are new positions, related to the company’s growth.

Read more on this development with ADS and the reason for this executive expansion

U.S. Cellular launches DIY security system

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

U.S. Cellular’s OnLook Digital System, a self-installed security and home automation system, is now available in Iowa and in the Tulsa, Okla., market in U.S. Cellular retail stores, online and over the phone.  The system can be managed over a smartphone, tablet or computer, according to the company.

The OnLook Digital System is powered by Alarm.com's cloud-based software platform. It has three DIY package options available starting at $99.99 with a two-year contract. The options include Essential Security, Advanced Security and Advanced Security + Energy.

U.S. Cellular says that every package includes 24/7 professional monitoring and standard components such as a control panel, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one key fob, security signs and decals and 24/7 monitoring.

Customers will receive real-time notifications via their mobile phones if something is happening, the company says. Customers are also offered several security and automation accessories and add-on packages that allow customers to customize the solution to best fit their specific needs.

Industry analyst Jeff Kagan of Wireless told a number of news sources that “U.S. Cellular has not seen the kind of growth in wireless that larger competitors have seen in the last several years. So moving into this new market segment sounds like a good idea if it can help U.S. Cellular show solid growth again.”

U.S. Cellular is not alone seeing this as a growth opportunity in home automation and security services. Other companies, such as AT&T Mobility and Comcast Xfinity, see the same opportunity, Kagan said.

I have scheduled an interview to speak with U.S. Cellular to follow up on what this means for its future. So stayed tuned.

ADT and Google-Nest? No big 'surprise'

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney announced during an interview with Forbes magazine last month that ADT is “working feverishly to develop” a partnership with Google-Nest.

Despite that pronouncement in the national magazine, ADT since has been mum on the potential partnership. It told Security Systems News and other publications that basically, at any given time, it is in regular conversations with a number of tech companies about potential partnerships.

There is nothing to report at this time, an ADT spokeswoman said via email in response to an inquiries from SSN after the Fortune article appeared and then again on Jan. 6.

But Imperial Capital, in a report released Dec. 30, said an ADT-Nest partnership is “not a surprise … especially since Nest has been running its ‘work with Nest’ developer program for connecting its products with other smart-products with some of the same companies as ADT."

“Mercedes Benz, Jawbone, Whirlpool, Logitech and IFTTT are among the growing list of companies with which Nest is integrating. ADT is now working with many ‘new-age,’ cloud based technology companies—several of them overlapping with Nest. ADT needs to show investors that it has the full range of technology and services capabilities ranging from experts in installing the plain old telephone line (POTS) systems, to installers and servicers who have the ‘IT-IQ’ to make ADT into a technology leader in the residential alarm monitoring industry.”

A partnership between ADT and Nest “could open up a significant opportunity for ADT to provide professional monitoring for [Nest’s] Dropcam users (and potentially other DIY products in the coming quarters,” Imperial said in the report.

 

 

Why managed access gets adopted, why it doesn't

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Managed and hosted access control systems, or access control as a service "ACaaS" has been on the rise for some time now. IHS's Blake Kozak put out a research note today with some interesting ACaaS projections.

From the report: "IHS estimates that newly installed hosted and managed access control doors represented about 3 percent of the total new readers and electronic locks installed in the Americas in 2013. A total of about 80,000 doors of ACaaS were added in the region in 2013. IHS has forecast there will be about 1.8 million total doors of ACaaS in the Americas by 2018."  

ACaaS is good for end users and integrators alike, the report points out.

For integrators, it's a source of RMR and it also increases "stickiness" of accounts. For end users, outsourcing access control provisioning and permissions to an integrator removes a major hassle internally. Very important also, is that the fact that ACaas is sold as a service, so the funds come from the operating budget rather than the capital expenditure budget, making it easier for end users to "sell" internally.

However, Kozak notes that it's not always possible to fully fund ACaaS through the OpEx budget. "For example, a system with 100 doors and 400 card users would likely not use a 100% opex model. The integrator/installer will need to obtain some amount of revenue upfront."
    
Kozak also says that "Web-based panels are continuing to experience growth, potentially impacting the adoption of ACaaS."
    
IHS predicts that we'll see more hybrid systems "a mix of onsite management, monitoring and hosted infrastructure."
    
Finally, the note brings up another important topic: Big Data. A buzzword for sure, but if they can figure out how to capture and collate the data efficiently, access control data, like video data, should be in important source for advanced business intelligence in the future.

Recent calls and the new year

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In the last couple weeks, I’ve talked to a lot of people about how things fared in 2014, and what their plans are for this brand new year. Two conversations in particular stand out to me.

Larry Halpern, president of Safe Systems, said the company is looking at how to service its continued growth, possibly through moving to a bigger facility. When I spoke with David Bitton, COO for Supreme Security Systems, he mentioned updating the company website.

It’s a recurrent topic, but always interesting. This is even the question we’ve posed to our readers in the newest SSN News Poll, and one that I’ve enjoyed hearing about.

The last time SSN talked with Safe Systems was back in January of 2013, shortly after it acquired two Colorado-based companies.

Halpern told SSN that, because of its continued growth, Safe Systems is considering moving to a larger facility to accommodate its wealth of accounts.

There are no definite plans, according to Halpern, but it’s something that may come up in mid- to late-2015. “This isn’t something we can just jump into, it’s got to be well planned. … We think out what we do and are diligent about the process to make sure we do it right,” Halpern said.

Safe Systems, established in 1982, is a full-service security company that monitors more than 10,000 accounts in the state of Colorado. About 70 percent of these accounts are commercial, and 30 percent are residential. Based in Louisville, Colo., the company of about 80 employees is actively looking for acquisitions, Halpern told Security Systems News. The company has also considered expanding with a new branch office in Denver.

Supreme Security Systems, family owned since its start in 1929, has around 7,000 accounts– 60 percent residential and 40 percent commercial—in and around New Jersey. Bitton mentioned that one of the company’s upcoming plans is to launch a new website to be new, updated and more responsive.

“It’s important to stay—and look—current,” Bitton said, “If it looks or feels like 1996 then that’s the type of company [people] are going to think [they’re] doing business with.”

Lately, I’ve been trying to hear from prominent businesses in the industry. If you have news about your central station, or would like to tell me about your company and how you do things, feel free to call me at any time at 207-846-0600, ext. 254. 

Thank you and happy holidays

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may know that I haven’t been in the industry very long. But, in the past couple months, I’ve been trying my best to learn as much as I can about the industry.

As such, I’ve picked up things here and there that make a lot of sense to me. A poignant summation of the purpose behind it all came from Chris Newhook, central station manager for American Alarm and Communications when I visited recently; that monitoring is about comfort, making sure people feel—and are—safe at all times.

So this blog post goes out as a recognition to the people in the central stations this holiday, making sure that others are safe, and providing that same level of care and comfort as any other day.

Especially to those individuals, but to everyone else in the industry as well: Thank you and happy holidays.

Touring and learning about an industry

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

American Alarm and Communications, a full-service security company with a central station based in Arlington, Mass., was kind enough to host me Dec. 15 to help me learn about the industry I recently signed on to cover.

Maria Moretti, command center manager, Chris Newhook, central station manager, and Keith Hunt, technical manager, led my visit. Starting with a tour of the administrative offices, then into the “Command Center.” Ending with a session of observing central station operators.

Being new to the industry, there was a lot of value for me in witnessing first-hand the everyday workings of a central station, learning the exact process by which alarms come in and are handled by the operators.

In an industry that is changing, faster almost every year, especially as newer technologies are introduced and updated, there are more openings to pursue, explained Newhook, expanding opportunities for security company employees.  

American Alarm encourages its employees to follow whichever growth path they are more geared towards. This approach, from my perspective, makes the industry seem more dynamic in a positive way—one of supported exploration.

“If you've been in it long enough, you won't just have one job, you wear many hats,” said Hunt.

One thing I can say is that I find the industry to be one thing in particular—easy to learn about. It is full of good people, such as those at American Alarm and Communications; people pushing themselves to help others learn and adapt.

Speco launches factory outlet

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York-based Speco Technologies, which provides residential and commercial video surveillance, electronics accessories and audio products, has opened an online factory outlet store.

That’s right, a factory outlet store.

Security Systems News, being just down the road a piece from Freeport, Maine, one of the nation’s outlet meccas, knows a thing or two about factory outlet stores. A lot. But an outlet security store? Hmmm. That’s interesting. Is this a new trend?

Speco’s online outlet store will offer limited-inventory closeout and refurbished items at “bargain prices,” according to a statement from the company.

A perusal of the e-store site found a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras, monitors, NVRs and power supplies and switchers, among other products.  

Specostore.com is a full e-commerce site with SSL encryption, which allows users to browse and purchase products and track and follow up on orders, all through a secure login, the company says. All products sold through Specostore.com will have a 90-day warranty.

A call into Speco wasn’t answered by press time, but we’ll certainly update if we can.

Protection 1 has a new field services organization

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Protection 1 CEO Tim Whall has always been big on data and measurable metrics. It appears Protection 1 is further fine-tuning its data-driven strategy with the announcement today that the full-service business and home security company is launching a new Field Services Organization.

The new group will be led by Paul Straten in the newly created role of VP, field services. Straten, who has been with Protection 1 for 14 years, will report to Don Young, chief information and operating officer.

Protection one say the new organization "will focus on the service delivery platform to support its rapidly growing commercial and national accounts business." Straten's group will "provide actionable data through the use of technical tools to help the field organization continue to improve upon their delivery capabilities."

The goal, according to a prepared statement from Young is to provide "the most sophisticated service delivery platform in the industry.”

Working with Straten will be Marcel Van Someren who has been promoted to the position of director, field technology and Helton De Oliveira who will serve as director, field services.
Van Someren will  "standardize training on the wide variety of products and services that Protection 1 offers and create educational channels that make it straightforward and impactful for technicians to access and learn."  De Oliveira is charged with "the production and distribution for all reporting related to field production, efficiency measurement, and related operational reporting data. The strategy behind this position is to streamline much of the available reporting and create a universal channel of access by field teams so they have the most accurate and current data available."

Protection 1 has 2 million business and home security customers, 3,500 employees,  70 office locations and five UL Certified monitoring centers across the country. It also has a Network Operations Center with a Cisco Cloud and Managed Services Express Partner Certification.
 

Rapid Response hires new people has 'record year'

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

While searching for what’s new out there, I noticed that a Syracuse publication posted online that Rapid Response Monitoring hired 11 new people.

Upon following up with Christopher Denniston, marketing and communications manager for Rapid Response Monitoring, he stated that 2014 was a year of record growth for Rapid Response—the best year in its history.

“More dealers have chosen to transition to Rapid than ever before and our dealers have also experienced positive organic growth,” Denniston told Security Systems News in an email interview.

“Our people are our greatest asset and our dealer and account growth requires an increase in staff. Our hiring criteria are extremely stringent. We hire only four percent of applicants—the best of the best,” he said.

Rapid Response hired Dustin S. Jesmer, Lishay M. Mack, Carlos M. Valle Wemett, Connor J. Brown, Emily K. Buss, Steve L. Delgado, Amanda S. Lewis, David J. Martin and Aglaeth M. Vazquez as control center specialists. Cathryn M. Mahoney and Olivia N. Nobile were hired as accounting assistants.

Denniston listed further examples of this growth; “Our fully redundant monitoring center in California will have a grand opening in Q1 of 2015 and our headquarters' facility is undergoing an expansion bringing it from 40,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.”

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