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Monitoring company employs social media savvy to help those in need

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

I came across an interesting story in my Google Alerts this morning. Seems there's another security company--Texas-based Smith Monitoring--that's using social networking to both increase its brand awareness and help out those hard-hit by the recent tornadoes out in the mid-west. Specifically, Smith is donating money to victims of the Joplin, Mo. tornado that killed almost 200 people, injured many more and cost millions in damage. I wrote a story recently about another security company, Atlas Security, based in nearby Springfield, Mo. that's going above and beyond to help out as well.

We've written here at SSN before about social networking. I've covered webinars on how to use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in business. I read a blog post recently from JF Champagne of CANASA who said social media basically had no relevance in a business setting. Provident Security's Mike Jagger called him out, appropriately, in a following tweet ("Is CANASA trying to become even less relevant on purpose? The column on social media was embarrassingly ignorant," Mike tweeted to his 1,452 followers.)

People who want to help out can visit Smith Monitoring's Facebook page and click on the like button. When they do, Smith will donate $.50 to recovery efforts in Joplin. There's also an easy button you can click on to set up a "movement" by notifying your contacts of how they can help... the whole time, Smith is getting more clicks on their Facebook page, more "likes," more name recognition and positive press for their philanthropy. And the survivors in Joplin are getting much needed aid.

Here's a link to the story.

And here's a link to Smith's Facebook page.

They've got close to 1700 likes so far. Drop by today and give through a simple click.

 

Locksmiths, alarm installers dynamic duo

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saw this little article below in Locksmith Ledger magazine. Security professionals already are aware how developing a relationship with a locksmith can help enhance their business and vice versa, but it’s interesting to see the issue being discussed from a locksmith's point of view.

Here’s what the magazine had to say:

"Locksmiths looking to grow their businesses in a challenging economy might want to consider installing alarm systems. After all, security starts at home, and locksmiths have been securing premises, both commercial and residential, for decades (perhaps centuries) before electronic alarm systems existed.

It’s a natural progression for an alarm installer to point out to a client the value of good locks, or for a locksmith to point out the benefits of having an alarm system to every client with whom he comes into contact.

Alarm systems have been proven to be both a necessity for many people, and that a professionally installed alarm system deters crime.

Private security in the United States began in 1851, when Alan Pinkerton founded what would become the Pinkerton Detective Agency. By 2006 private security had grown to become a $150 billion per year industry.

The market for alarm systems, sold by the private security industry, is about $30 billion annually, growing at a compound annual rate of 7 [percent] to 8 percent."

 

Sprinkler know-how

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Monday, June 20, 2011

How are your California residential sprinkler smarts?

If you’re not quite up on your code knowledge, the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology, based in Champaign, Ill., is holding a series of California residential fire sprinkler plan review classes this month in several locations in California.

The academy notes that the new rules from R313 went into effect for the state of California in January.

Class participants will learn about reviewing plans that are submitted in accordance with NFPA 13D, IRC P2904 and CRC 313, the academy said. “Attendees will leave with a firm understanding of the design requirements of the codes and the installation practices used by contractors, “ it said.

The academy says that at least two of the following industry experts will teach each class: Cecil Bilbo, Fire Sprinkler Academy; Steve Leyton, Protection Design & Consulting; Bob Caputo, Consolidated Fire Protection; and Ken Wagoner, Parsley Consulting.

Attendees can earn 16 CPD's by attending the two-day class sessions, which will run from 8:30 a.m.  to 3:30 p.m. both days, and cost $200, including lunch, the academy says.

The classes will be held on the following dates in the following locations: June 22-23, in Riverside, Calif.; June 27-28, in Burbank, Calif.; and June 30-July 1, in Hayward, Calif.

For more information or to register go to: http://www.sprinkleracademy.com/online-classes/california-residential-fire-sprinkler-plan-review/

 

No leis for summer sales in Hawaii

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don’t let their Hawaiian shirts fool you. Despite their casual attire, members of the Hawaii Burglar and Fire Alarm Association were all business in a recent roundtable discussion with a Honolulu TV station as they voiced concerns that mainland security companies going door-to-door in the islands this summer are using deceptive sales practices.

While news reports frequently cite authorities in mainland states complaining about the sales tactics of out-of-state summer-sales-model companies, it’s unusual to see the issue being highlighted in Hawaii. I’ve got a call in to the Hawaii association to learn more about the problem there and what the association is trying to do about it, but Hawaii is six hours earlier than we are here in Maine so haven’t heard back yet.

Here’s more from the KHON2 TV news report, which doesn't name the specific companies allegedly using deceptive practices:

“They will represent themselves as being from a local company and that they’re there to upgrade your system, which can't possibly be the truth,” said Mary Paulson, an official with Security One and vice-president of the local alarm company trade association.

In May Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau received 844 inquiries about alarm companies doing business within the state.  Many of the inquiries were tied to door-to-door sales.

BBB spokesman Timothy Caminos told Khon2 there have also been complaints about high pressure sales pitches and deceptive practices.

“They promise a lot of things but they won't leave a simple thing like a business card,” said Caminos.  “There are complaints that do allege that the companies mislead the consumers.”

Paulson said one of the most common practices for fly-by-night companies is to deceive potential customers about the length of alarm monitoring contracts.

“I've had a customer that they told them six months, but it turned out to be a sixty month agreement,” said Paulson.  “It wasn't until that they read their contract that they realized what they were really getting into.”

HBFA members also claim some mainland companies mislead customers into thinking the salesperson that arrives at the door works for a local alarm firm.

Some residents of Olomana in Kailua experienced the high pressured sales tactics first hand.  Bob Brown and Pat Patterson of Ululani Street were approached by a salesman last month around 8:30 at night.

“It was like, ‘Do you care about your family?’  You know he tried to play on any little paranoia,” said Brown.

“He couldn't produce a business card,” added Patterson.  “Basically he was telling me it was free, it was a free system (and) that all I had to do was put a sign in my front yard and tell my neighbors or whoever inquired about it.”

 The story also also said the local firms say they have found instances of “shoddy workmanship” when it comes to installation. They contend the mainland technicians are untrained and some may not have had criminal background checks.

 

Resi video on the rise? Some say yes, and maybe that's a good a thing.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

So I got my SIA Update email this morning and I have to say, I'm liking the work SIA's doing here. There's no reporting like what we do at SSN, but they're doing a really nice job of tracking important issues and trends and blasting them out in a daily email.

Anyway, today I noticed a particular entry on resi video monitoring. According to this story, residential video is on the rise. I've been writing about video—traditionally used more commonly in commercial and municipal applications—for quite a while, and it looks like video may be crossing over more into the resi market. I wrote a story recently about video, security and access control converging in a residential high-rise application that may just be evidence of a new trend. The story from the SIA email notes that the technology is accessable and the price points are coming down. Video pricepoints have been coming down according to many I've spoken with. My fearless editor Martha also recently blogged down in Charlotte at ESX that some security folks were forecasting a sizeable uptick in resi video over the coming years.

What have you noticed out there, avid readers? Are you installing or monitoring more residential video? I'm curious.

Of course, something to which I've paid a lot of journalistic attention is the ongoing movement of municipalities advocating a priority response for verified—either via video, audio, or dual zone, or eyewitness verification—alarms. Why, just recently at the ESX show in Charlotte, N.C. I sat down briefly with RSI Video Technologies' Keith Jentoft and Major Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. Levins affirmed that if there's event based video tied to an alarm, police respond faster… It just makes sense.

"We're much more excited about the captures and arrests than we do about going up to the same places and rattling the doors," Levins told me. "We get a lot of repeat offenders, too, so when we get the chance to actually apprehend these guys, it reduces our overall workload. We respond better when there's better information. Our policy's so strong now, that even with alarms that we've cut off due to excessive false alarms, when there's better information like video, we respond. A crime in progress, no matter where it is trumps everything."

They told me that the CMPD has an official policy to upgrade a situation in which video surveillance is a factor. Dispatchers in the municipality are advised to enter any calls where the alarm monitoring company has actual live streaming video of subjects in the premise or on the perimeter as a breaking and entering call to residence or business.

I'm interested to keep my eye on this and see whether video becomes a normal part of residential systems.

 

Mace makes progress

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mace Security International, which has had its share of distractions as it works to become a pure-play security company, has reached a court agreement to settle one of those headaches. 

In addition to owning wholesale monitoring companies CSSS and The Command Center, and being a manufacturer of security prodcuts, Mace Security International is the owner of Mace Personal Defense (producers of the Mace spray.)  Late in 2010, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont conducted an investigation into the personal defense spray business regarding alleged violations concerning the storage of hazardous waste from 1998 to 2008 at the personal defense spray headquarters in Bennington, Vermont.

One June 2, Mace announced that the Federal District Court for Vermont accepted the guilty plea of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., (producers of Mace spray) to one felony charge of storing hazardous waste at its Bennington, VT facility and to pay a fine of $100,000.

In a prepared statement, Dennis Raefield, Mace’s CEO and president said:  “Our Board of Directors and I are satisfied with the resolution of the environmental charges that related back to 1998 through 2008. At no time was there any leak or risk to the public, and the site has been fully remediated with new environmental safety policies and procedures put into place.”

From the press release: "On November 16, 2010, the U.S. Attorney filed a one count indictment charging Mace Security International, Inc. and Jon Goodrich with a felony of storing hazardous waste without a permit under 42 U.S.C. Section 6928(d)(2)(A). Mr. Goodrich is the President of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., the Company's defense spray division located in Bennington, Vermont. The Company resolved the indictment brought against it through a Plea Agreement entered into between Mace Personal Defense, Inc. and the U.S. Attorney. On May 26, 2011, the Court accepted the Plea Agreement and the guilty plea of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., to one count of violating 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(2)(A) (Storage of Hazardous Waste Without a Permit). The Court also imposed a fine of $100,000 (the "Fine") and a court assessment of $400 against Mace Personal Defense, Inc; $34,000 of the Fine was paid on May 26, 2011, and two additional installments of $33,000 each, are due on July 4, 2011 and January 4, 2012. The Company guaranteed the payment of the Fine. The United States dismissed the indictment that was brought against the Company and agreed not to prosecute Mace Personal Defense, Inc. (excluding the charge to which Mace Personal Defense, Inc pled guilty ) or the Company for any criminal offenses known to the United States Attorney's Office of Vermont as of the date of signing of the Plea Agreement committed by the Company or Mace Personal Defense, Inc. in the District of Vermont relative to the storage, shipment, handling or disposal of hazardous waste, including any associated record keeping or reporting offenses. Mace Personal Defense, Inc was placed on probation until the Fine is paid in full. The charges against Mr. Goodrich are still pending and are being defended by Mr. Goodrich."

Where wire and fire meet the road

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ADI, a supplier of security and low voltage products, is holding a “Wire to Fire Roadshow” around the country this month and next.

ADI, which is based in Melville, N.Y., says it is hosting a series of training events across “to help our partners provide end-to-end fire solutions to their customers.”

The company said, “The one-day events will feature technology from leading manufacturers including Silent Knight, System Sensor and Honeywell Genesis Wire. Attendees will have the chance to see and test the latest solutions, receive product discounts and enter raffles to win fire products.”

ADI Wire to Fire events, of which all sessions run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be held at the following locations on these dates: 

Hackensack, N.J., June 15

Dallas, June 16

Elmsford, N.Y., June 23

Elk Grove, Ill., June 28

Kent, Wash., June 29

Tampa, Fla., June 30

Gaithersburg, Md., July 7

Portland, Ore., July 8

Raleigh, NC July 12 10am – 2pm

ADI Charlotte, N.C., July 13

San Francisco, July 19

Allston, Mass., July 19

Louisville, Ky., July 20

St. Louis, Mo., July 21

For more information, visit www.adilink.com

 

Greetings from ESX in Charlotte

 - 
Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I’m hearing from people on the floor and at different ESX events, is that they’re pleased with the show this year. There were more booths (and notably some bigger booths—Mobotix for one) and more people, everyone agreed.

It seems like in year four, expectations have been managed for ESX. It’s not a deal conference, but it’s a great venue for networking—is what I hear.

And I’d agree, that’s primarily what Dan and I are doing here, although Dan is also attending a bunch of educational sessions and went on the CPI central station tour as well.

I also had a chance to catch up with some manufacturers I didn’t get to talk with at ISC West.

I’m also moderating  a couple of panel discussions. Today at 3:15 I’m moderating a panel called “The door-to-door sales paradigm shift.” For the record, I did not name the panel but I am looking forward to it. I’ve got Alex Dunn, COO of Vivint (formerly APX Alarm) the biggest summer model company; John Strade, ADT’s director of training, who’s trained hundreds of ADT dealers in door-to-door sales; and Patrick Egan, president of Select Security, a traditional, full-service security company based in Penn. Last year, Pat went to Utah, recruited a bunch of college kids who he brought back to Penn. To sell Select Security door to door. It worked so well, he’s doing it again this year.

If it’s anything like the door-knocking panel I moderated last year, it will be lively. Stop by Room 207D if you’re in Charlotte.

On Tuesday I moderated a discussion with Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG Security and Michael Barnes, partner in Barnes Associates about “trends in valuation.” Specifically, how do those new services (hosted, managed services, home automation add ons, etc) affect the value of your company.

I’ll have more on this later, but in general, Joe Nuccio said that many, many of these services are tried and tested, plug and play, and as long as your company has the infrastructure to support the services and it fits with your company profile—they’re a no brainer. (Interestingly, ASG VP of sales and marketing Bob Ryan, who was in the audience,  predicted that ASG would sell “about 300”  more residential cameras this year than it will sell commercial cameras. “And we sell a lot of commercial cameras,” he said, adding that “if you told me that would be the case two or three years ago, I would have said you were crazy.”)

However, Nuccio said, you’ve got to be cautious, test them first, and choose your manufacturers carefully.

Mike Barnes advised caution as well. Services that complement your specialty and vertical market focus can be great. They should contribute to the growth of the company, however. And you should be able to document that growth.

 

Full service alarm company CPI co-hosts ESX and provides hopping operations tour

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CPI Security was started by company owner/president/CEO Ken Gill in 1976. The company's been in the Carolinas since the early '90s and today boasts around 90,000 accounts in a roughly 80/20 resi/commercial mix supported by over 300 employees. The company's footprint is all through the Carolinas and they just recently branched into Georgia.

I'm down here in Charlotte, N.C.—the heart of CPI territory—for the ESX show, which CPI co-hosted. I've never been down to the Carolinas… As a matter of fact the furthest south I've really ever been was a trip one time to visit my former in-laws down in Florida… Oh, and I've been to Rhode Island a few times… Needless to say, the heat, humidity and grits at breakfast have bowled me over.

The tour of CPI's headquarters started with a short bus ride from the Charlotte convention center. We were greeted at the door of CPI by polite, gracious employees and Ken Gill himself. Inside the awesomely air conditioned lobby guests picked up name tags and headed into an adjacent (it looked like it was probably a training room, but the folks at CPI truly transformed it) lounge, complete with excellent food, an open bar and a jazz duo in the corner.

So I haven't had a lot of experience being in the south, but I've been to a few awesome security companies and monitoring centers. CPI has an impressive operation in Charlotte, spread out throughout roughly 50,000 square feet. The monitoring center is CSAA Five Diamond-certified (a process about which I've written extensively and with which I am personally acquainted.), and UL-listed.

Everyone had a chance to mingle and meet, see old friends and colleagues. I had a chance to exchange cards with some industry folks I've spoken with in the past, but never met. Some fellowship, nosh and cold beverage were a nice way to start the tour.

I had a chance to speak briefly with CPI customer care manager John Shocknesse who filled me in on a little of CPI's philosophy.

"We like to put on a good face and be very active in the organizations, CSAA and ESA," Shocknesse told me. "And I think personally it's great to be as engaged as possible with other companies and share ideas and make the industry better."

CPI broke the sold-out group of tourists up into several groups and passed them off to different executive guides who led the separate groups to different areas of the headquarters. Groups passed each other in the halls but never bunched up, felt crowded or got in each others way, and everyone got to see every aspect of the organization, with everyone reconvening in the jazz lounge for another bite and cocktail before heading back to the convention center.

All-told a nice tour with knowledgeable and friendly people who were willing to answer tourist questions and satisfy our curiosity.

 

Honeywell app makes “on the go” easier

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Security professionals increasingly rely on mobile technology as they make sales calls and do installation. Now Honeywell has just released an app that will make it easier for professionals to get product information using their iPads in such situations.

Here’s more from a press release Honeywell sent today, entitled “Honeywell iPad App gives security professionals easy access to product information on the go.”

“Available for free in the Apple iTunes App Store, the Honeywell Security Group  App provides easy access to sourcebooks, videos and product brochures for dealers, integrators and installers that serve both the residential and commercial markets. Once the App is retrieved, users can read and store as many items as needed. Honeywell will continuously add resources to the app as new tools become available."

To download the app, go to http://bit.ly/jnGqti. The app free also is compatible with Apple iPhone. For more information, visit www.honeywell.com/security.

Honeywell Security Group, based in Melville, N.Y., is a subsidiary of Honeywell International, which is based in Morris Township, N.J.

 

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