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Pro1 goes after national accounts in N.C.

 - 
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Protection1 announced on Monday that it has acquired Camtronic Security Integration of Wilmington, N.C.

I’m scheduled to do an interview with Protection1’s Jamie Haenggi, who is on the road, so I’ll have more in a story later this week. From the press release, it’s the national accounts that attracted P1 to this buy. After he took over P1 in 2010, CEO Tim Whall said national accounts would be a priority.  Last fall, Haenggi spoke to us about Pro1’s national accounts research

Judging by its web site, Camtronic seems to be soley focused on retail accounts. Its client list includes:  Winn Dixie, Coach, Saks Fifth Avenue, Safeway, Louis Vitton and Whole Foods.

In business since 1991, the founder and president is Jay Linton. Linton, Jim Finley, Camtronic’s vice president, managing director, and Paul Yezzi, managing partner of Camtronic, and the rest of the Camtronic employees will stay on with Pro1.

Does it seem like more owners are staying on with companies after acquisitions? It does to me. At the Barnes Buchanan conference this year, Michael Barnes said that keeping owners and staff is increasingly something sellers are looking for in today’s market.

 Pro1 acquired accounts from Sting Alarm in Feb. 2010

Pro1's 'Security Switch' TV ad stars Mike of "Mike & Mike"

 - 
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I just had a chance to speak to Jamie Haenggi, Protection1 chief marketing & customer experience officer, who filled me in on the Camtronics Security Integration acquisition. There's some info in a blog I wrote earlier today. I'll be writing a story with comments from Jamie this week. 

In addition to the Camtronics deal, Protecton1 is undertaking another effort to beef up its national accounts business: launching its first ever television commercial last Sunday (March 12) starring Mike Greenberg of ESPN “Mike and Mike” fame.

“It’s aimed at our commercial and national accounts customers,” Haenggi said.

“It’s a very different concept from [security commercial which tend to focus on home security] than anything you’ve seen before,” she said. “It’s set up like a game show, like The Dating Game, and it’s called Security Switch. Mike Greenberg is stars as the client and there are three security companies,” Haenggi explained. “Mike asks contestants questions. There’s good humor in there,” she said. And, the commercial “draws the competition in to play.”

The point is to highlight P1’s value proposition, she said “which is that we take your security personally.

“It’s all about building brand awareness. We’re the second-largest security provider out there and we’re the best-kept secret. We’ve got high-profile clients moving over to us, and we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” Haenggi said.

Look for the commercial on ESPN stations. 

Pinnacle settles with Florida AG

 - 
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinnacle Security recently settled a claim by Florida’s attorney general that reps with the Utah-based summer-sales-model company were using deceptive sales practices.

But the voluntary agreement states that it is not an admission of guilt on Pinnacle’s part, and that the company entered into it “solely for the purpose of ending the investigation,” which the AG began in 2010.

And Stuart Dean, VP of corporate communications for Pinnacle, sent me this statement by the company regarding the settlement:
 

Pinnacle Security is pleased that it has resolved the Florida Attorney General's investigation to the parties' mutual satisfaction.  Over the last several months, Pinnacle worked cooperatively with the AG's office to address issues related to customer complaints regarding certain alleged sales practices that occurred primarily before 2010.  Since 2010, Pinnacle has implemented industry-leading compliance initiatives to help ensure the professional delivery of its sales and services.  As part of its agreement with the AG’s office, Pinnacle will continue to ensure that all of its customers receive superior customer care and service.  Pinnacle looks forward to continuing its relationship with the State and to protecting the security of Florida's citizens.  As part of the agreement, Pinnacle is also pleased to donate $25,000 to Seniors vs. Crime, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and protecting Florida's senior citizens.

Pinnacle, which sells nationwide and in Canada, has previously said the company had some issues in past years with “rogue” door-knocking sales staff. But in 2010, Pinnacle announced it had made a company cultural shift to emphasize a code of ethics for employees and the implementation of new ways to monitor their behavior and enforce the code.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi put out a news release March 8, describing the settlement. It said:

Pinnacle Security, a Utah-based home-alarm company, will reform its business practices and compensate Florida consumers, many of whom are seniors, for high-pressure sales tactics. Under the agreement, Pinnacle will offer refunds to customers who were misled about Pinnacle's relationship with other security companies or the cost of its services. Additionally, customers who could not get defective Pinnacle equipment repaired promptly or were overcharged when they cancelled their Pinnacle contracts will be offered compensation. Pinnacle will also make a charitable contribution of $25,000 to Seniors vs. Crime, a project set up by the Attorney General in which elderly Floridians help each other and the authorities fight criminal activity.

The Attorney General's Office opened an investigation after receiving complaints about the company's door-to-door salesmen. Among other complaints, homeowners said salesmen induced them to sign up with Pinnacle by claiming it had taken over or had some other special arrangement with their existing home-security companies.

Under the agreement, Pinnacle will improve its disclosures to consumers about its services, charges and repairs. Additionally, the company will make it easier for consumers to cancel their contracts if they so desire, and will ask new customers for detailed information about their interactions with salesmen to ensure compliance with the company’s required business reforms.

Hertel steps down at Mace CS

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Morgan Hertel, VP and general manager of Mace CS, has stepped down for personal reasons, Mace Security International announced today. A replacement wasn’t named, but a Mace news release said Hertel “will be working closely with Mace CS in a consulting role over the next several months.”

Hertel, who was named director of operations at Mace shortly after the CSSS acquisition in 2009, could not be reached for comment. “Our clients remain in the very capable hands of the Mace CS professionals who have a high degree of technical expertise and training for the positions they hold,” he said in the company’s statement.

Hertel is a well-known figure in the monitoring world, with more than 30 years of experience and active service on many industry committees. He was a panelist for a discussion on cloud security at the recent TechSec conference in Delray Beach, Fla., and is scheduled to speak at ISC West at a session titled “NFPA 72: Are You Ready for the Changes?”

As for professional changes for Hertel, I hope to learn more soon.

 

Guard deal in California

 - 
Monday, March 12, 2012

Guard company Universal Protection Service, which is based in Santa Ana, Calif., and made a major acquisition this past fall when it acquired SFI
made another, smaller acquisition. It acquired Silver Shield Security, based in San Jose, Calif. UPS, the company announced on March 7.

Robert H. Perry & Associates, initiated and managed the deal for Silver Shield.

I’ll be talking to UPS parent company, Universal Services of America, this week, but in a prepared statement, Brian Cescolini, chairman and co-CEO of Universal Services of America said the “addition of Silver Shield Security will make us a formable presence in that [Silicon Valley] marketplace, servicing many of the large dot-com companies, and our national presence will enable us to expand our contracts with many of the largest companies in the U.S.”

Universal Protection Service says it’s the 6th largest security company in the U.S. and the 4th largest U.S.-owned security organization. It is a division of Universal Services of America, which includes Universal Building Maintenance, Universal Protection Security Systems, Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, Security Forces LLC and SFI Electronics.
Founded in 1965, Universal Services of America combines an innovative mix of tradition with cutting edge systems and technology to keep is headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif., with offices located throughout Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Fire company saved by fire alarm

 - 
Friday, March 9, 2012

I got a kick out of reading the following little news article from the Lewiston Sun Journal, a newspaper in Maine, which is where Security Systems News is based. It just underlines that, no matter who you are or what your business is, it pays to have a fire alarm system.

Here’s what the March 8 article had to say:
 

DURHAM — A potentially disastrous fire was averted early Wednesday morning thanks to a monitored alarm system at the Durham Fire and Rescue building on Hallowell Road, fire Chief Bill St. Michel said.

Firefighters were called at 2:28 a.m. and discovered a hanging gas-fired heating unit was smoking in one of the bays. The access panel to the unit was removed, and it was determined the fire in it had gone out.

After ventilating the building and checking all storage areas, the alarm was reset and the five fire trucks and two ambulances were returned to the building.

The monitoring alarm system, while expensive, more than paid for itself in this instance, St. Michel said. Without it, the fire probably wouldn't have been reported until it was spotted by a passing motorist. Although the building is insured, the loss of it and the equipment would mean the town would have to rely on other departments.

St. Michel reminded residents Wednesday that when they turn clocks ahead Sunday to daylight saving time they should replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

 

Barnes/SSN survey takes pulse of industry

 - 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How did the wholesale monitoring industry hold up in 2011? Michael Barnes knows.

Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, recently completed a joint survey with Security Systems News that involved the biggest players in the industry. It was the second year that Barnes has conducted the survey with SSN, and it provided some interesting insights.

Without completely tipping Barnes’ hand, let’s just say that the industry grew. I had a chance to find out more about it this week in conversations with two leaders of the monitoring world, Russ MacDonnell of Rapid Response and Don Maden of COPS Monitoring. They both confirmed what the Barnes/SSN survey found, and that bodes well for the industry.

I’ll have more about the survey soon, both on the SSN website and in the April issue.

CSAA webinars: The Central Station Alarm Association has two sessions on tap that promise to be of interest to members and nonmembers alike.

“Building a Partnership with Insurers,” scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. March 14, will focus on how insurers are resurrecting the insurance/alarm industry/law enforcement triad for lower losses and greater profits. “Social Media in the Central Station,” set for April 18 from 1 to 2 p.m., will examine the benefits and hazards of Facebook and Twitter in the monitoring workplace.

For more information on either webinar, contact Stephanie Morgan at smorgan@csaaintl.org or call 703-242-4670, Ext. 15.

Consultants, manufacturers and integrators mix at AMAG SES

 - 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I spent the past two days at AMAG Technology’s Security Engineering Symposium here in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It was the 11th annual AMAG SES event, with about 90 consultants in attendance. “We handpick the best consultants in the industry and invite them here,” AMAG director of business development Jody Ross told me. More consultants than ever before attended, she said, and about “45 to 50 percent of them were new faces.”

According to informal surveys at the event, business is good these days for the consultants. Eighty percent of consultants said they’re working on new business currently, as opposed to more jobs for existing clients. In a show of hands, about 75 percent said they are “busy or very busy” and about 40 percent say they’re looking to hire more consultants.

Ed Chandler of Security by Design, a frequent attendee at this event, said he checked up on improvements included in the new version (V7.1) of AMAG’s Symmetry access control and security management system. He also views the event as an opportunity to give product feedback to AMAG and other manufacturing partners who attend the event, he said.

Coincidentally, I’d just interviewed Ed’s wife and business partner, Lorna Chandler, last week. She will be SSN’s featured specifier in our “Specifically Speaking” column in the April issue of SSN. Each month, we do a Q & A with a different specifier, (supplied to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.com), and I also had a chance to meet three other specifiers in person who are alumni of the SpecificallySpeaking column (Michael Crocker, Mark Peterson and Ted Wheaton)  

AMAG’s manufacturing partners this year, included HID and Stentofon, which have both been at all 11 AMAG SES symposiums. Dan Rothrock of Stentofon demoed a new (extremely audible) audio product called “Turbine.”

One point emphasized by Rothrock and AMAG at the event is that both are typically considered ideal for enterprise solutions, but both offer solutions for smaller applications,—that’s fewer than 16 readers for AMAG, and for Stentafon, “a two to 16-station IP-solution that doesn’t need a server or software licenses,” Rothrock said.  

Hawkeye Technologies showcased its Harmony web-based solution that enables users to interface with AMAG’s Symmetry solution using any device with a web browser.

SRI International Sarnoff  showed off its iris-readers, a walk-by solution and a handheld solution. I saw a demo where a guy’s iris was recognized when he was wearing tri-focal sunglasses. It’s not cheap, the readers run around $2,800 for the stationary readers and $20,000 for the handheld, but the price has come down substantially, and these guys claim that their solution—because it works at some distance (relative to other solutions) —is more valuable. Plus, they say it’s the most accurate biometric next to retinal scans and Stephen Piro, business development director for SRI said: “administration and recurring ownership cost is extremely low.”  It’s been implemented at an athletic facility at Auburn University and elsewhere. Niche-y but cool stuff.  

Assa Abloy brought its demo bus to the event. The focus was on its wireless lock lines, which I’d seen at ASIS and ISC West last year, and its new resi phones-unlocking doors solution—a collaboration between Verizon and Yale, which was introduced at the CES show in January, and some say may migrate into the commercial world.

NEC’s Miguel Llerena told me that specifiers and integrators need to take more of an interest in the “how virtualization will play a role in this industry. They need to be aware and prepared,” he said.
He said he’s working on eight access control systems, AMAG and others, that use a virtualized server. “Virtualization will happen first, then private cloud and then the public cloud,” he predicted, and suggested that integrators get certified on VM ware or other virtualization platform.

Other partners at the event included Innometriks, Intransa, Milestone,  and Winstead.

AMAG’s Tina Seraphin, who joined the company one year ago and is spearheading the company’s new professional services offerings, described the program, which she said was launched in response to requests from consultants.
 
I'll have more on this, but it’s an extensive, structured program that provides a variety of extra support for integrators. “More frequently, we’re finding consultants are writing into specifications that professional services must be included in the project,” Jody Ross said. “It’s a safeguard, an extra layer … everyone can sleep better at night.”
 
There were also about 19 integrators at the AMAG event, as well as PSA Security’s Bill Bozeman. This is the second year that integrators have been invited to attend some of the consultant sessions yesterday and to participate in a kind of mini-conference which is scheduled to take place today (March 7). They’ll hear from AMAG and AMAG partners, but they’ll also have a consultant/reseller panel discussion and break-out sessions.

AMAG did this with five resellers last year, and decided to expand the number of integrators this year. The discussion will focus on the best ways to work together, Ross said. Last year both the consultants and integrators said it was “valuable to get input from the other side,” she said.

One integrator, Dan Kilgore of RFI Communications, attended consultant sessions on March 6 and was looking forward to the joint sessions today.

“I wanted to hear what they are being presented with and what we’ll be presented with tomorrow. If I can understand how they get to their frame of mind, that might help me to be a better resource to them,” he said. While it’s important to maintain a separation between the consultant and integrator, the two professions “oftentimes live in separate vacuums,” and that’s not helpful for integrator, specifier, end user or manufacturer, he said.  
 

NFSA gets new president

 - 
Monday, March 5, 2012

Russ Fleming is the new president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, following a vote by the organization’s board. Fleming replaces John Viniello, who retired effective the first of this month after 28 years on the job.

The board voted March 2 to select Fleming, the organization’s former executive VP, for the president’s post. A special NFSA committee met Jan. 25 to nominate him, Fleming told me at that time.

I’m trying to reach Fleming to learn more about his goals for the NFSA. I’d also like to learn more about who’s going to be the next executive VP.

Viniello announced Jan. 19 that he planned to retire. “I will turn 70 years of age at the end of February and it’s time to step down. It’s been a great run,” he said in a statement on the NFSA’s website.

Viniello told me he and Fleming had worked together for 25 years and “in my estimation, he’s the top engineer in the sprinkler industry.” Fleming sits on a number of National Fire Protection Association committees, Viniello said.

When asked what his own greatest accomplishment has been on the job, Viniello answered: “Oh, that’s easy. My staff.”

He said that when he became president in 1984, “the association was in dire financial trouble. People were being laid off and I was determined to look at the staff and assess who could get it done and who couldn’t.”

He said the association now has a “terrific” staff of more than 40 people. He said NFSA staff members are the “who’s who in the sprinkler industry. … I’m most proud of the staff that I’ve been able to assemble.”

Viniello said his previous careers included being a school guidance councilor and dean of admissions at Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus in New York City before becoming a regional manager for the NFSA in 1973. “I didn’t know a sprinkler from a water faucet when I first started. I had to learn, and I had a lot of good teachers,” he said.

In 1981, he left NFSA to work for Grinnell Fire Protection as head of their residential fire sprinkler division. “That was before fire sprinklers were really known for protecting homes and I guess I was considered one of the pioneers in that whole technology,” he said. He returned to NFSA to take the job as president.

Here’s more from the NFSA’s website on other votes by the board on March 2:
 

At its meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Friday, March 2, 2012, the NFSA Board of Directors elected the following members to two-year terms as officers, beginning immediately: Chairman, Dennis Coleman, Engineered Fire Protection, St. Louis; Treasurer, James Boulanger, Patriot Fire Protection, Seattle.
In addition, the following staff members were elected to officer positions: Russell P. Fleming, President; David J. Vandeyar, Secretary; Fred Barall, Senior Vice President of Industrial Relations; Kenneth E. Isman, P.E., Vice President of Engineering; Buddy Dewar, Vice President of Regional Operations; James F. Lynch, Vice President of Industrial Relations; James D. Lake, Vice President of Training & Education.
Two new members were also welcomed to the Board of Directors. Bruce LaRue of Potter Electric was elected as the new Chair of the Supplier and Manufacturers (SAM) Council, a position that carries a seat on the Board. In addition, Buck Buchannan was designated by Globe Fire Sprinkler as their new representative on the Sprinkler Manufacturers Council, and he was among the sprinkler manufacturers elected to a new two-year term on the Board of Directors. Congratulations to all the new officers and Board members!

 

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