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PrivateBank, Pinnacle and Kratos people

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My inbox this morning included a couple interesting "people moving to new jobs" news items.

First, PrivateBank officially announced today that Jennifer Holloway, formerly in charge of M&A for Protection One, is their new managing director for the Security Industry Group. Before she took the job with PrivateBank, Jennifer provided some great analysis for SSN on several transactions, most recently on the Monitronics sale. She won't be as free to comment on stories now, we know, but look forward to continuing to work with her.

From the release: "We are thrilled that Jennifer has joined our group at The PrivateBank. She brings over 15 years of experience providing financing to the security industry.  She is a perfect fit for our team and will help us better serve our clients,” said Mark Melendes, managing director of the Security Industry Group.

And speaking of PrivateBank, I only learned a couple months ago that Sean Forrest, who formerly was with PrivateBank as a managing director of the Securty Industry Group, moved to Pinnacle Security to become their CFO. That actually happened in the fall. Seems like quite a switch, but working for a security company isn't new for Sean, who worked as CFO for Tim Whall (now CEO of Pro One) when Whall was at HSM. Sean's going to be presenting at the Barnes Buchanan Conference in a couple weeks.

The security industry is a tangled web indeed.

In another, unrelated people move, I saw that  Kratos Defense & Security announced today that Fred Thomas has been promoted to VP of Operations for its Public Safety and Security (PSS) Division. He'll report to Ben Goodwin, president of the Public Safety and Security Division and be responsible for overseeing all operational, programmatic, and customer overall development aspects of the PSS Division. From the release: "Mr. Thomas' promotion supports Kratos' broader corporate strategy to expand its presence in the critical infrastructure, homeland security, surveillance and public safety market, which also included the recent acquisition of Henry Brothers Electronics in December 2010."


$4 million donation will aid fire research

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ever wonder about the science behind national fire codes? Well, the Fire Protection Research Foundation is vital to that, and a recent $4 million boost to the foundation’s endowment will aid it in its work, according to the head of the foundation.

The National Fire Protection Association yesterday announced it had made the multi-million-dollar addition to the foundation’s endowment. The nonprofit foundation is involved in research that is key to the success of the industry, ranging from determining the best place to install smoke alarms on an uneven ceiling to what the most effective words are to use in a verbal emergency notification system, so that people can easily understand what to do, according to Kathleen Almand, the foundation’s executive director.

The money will further strengthen the ability of the foundation to do such research, she told me.

“It’s wonderful,” Almand said. She said the endowment “enables us to undertake (research) projects in a very efficient and cost-effective manner.”

The foundation’s endowment now stands at $10 million, Almand said. She said the NFPA established a $6 million endowment for the foundation in 2008 on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the foundation. The independent foundation is an affiliate of the NFPA and, according to that group, “plans, manages and communicates consortium-funded research on a broad range of fire safety issues in collaboration with scientists and laboratories around the world.”

Almand said, “We have a pretty vibrant research program which is designed to improve the national fire alarm code and the sprinkler standard.”  The foundation doesn’t do the research itself but pays research institutions, such as universities, to do the work, Almand said.

She said an example of such research is work done to determine the optimal spacing requirements for installing smoke alarms on a ceiling that isn’t flat, such as a waffle ceiling or one with beams.

Another example, she said, was research done to determine the best sound for a smoke alarm to emit so it can alert high-risk individuals, such as the elderly, those who are hearing-impaired and even people impaired by alcohol. The elderly, for example, can have difficulty hearing the traditional high-pitched smoke alarm sound, Almand said.

She said research on human subjects showed that the optimum sound was “really a mixed-frequency sound that has both low tones and high tones in it, and that has been proven through these studies to be very effective.”

Also, Almand said, there currently is research underway to determine the best words to use in verbal communication emergency alarm systems. “You have words like ‘Get out of the building,’” she said. “What is the best way to say that from a human behavior perspective? … You don’t want to incur panic.” Also, she said, people with disabilities must be considered in such messages. “Can they hear it, can they see it?” she said.

She said, “That’s an emerging topic because fires alarm systems are being used for emergencies other than fire.”

The research, Almand said, “is all designed to make the NFPA codes and standards better.”


'Top Cop' joins Hall of Famer at LifeShield

Monday, January 24, 2011

Football, law enforcement and home security? They all connect at LifeShield Security.

First, LifeShield announced this past summer that it had brought on NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino as an investor and to help market its product in television commercials. Now, the company announced last week, it has added John Timoney—“America’s Top Cop”—as an advisor to help the company and customers protect against burglars with the aid of Timoney's inside knowledge of criminals’ minds.

Timoney won the “Top Cop” appellation from Esquire Magazine in 2000, and had led police departments in several of the nation’s largest cities, according to the Yardley, Pa.-based LifeShield. He was chief of the Miami Police Department from 2003-2010, formerly was commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, and also served as the police chief and first deputy police commissioner in New York City, the company said.

Now, Timoney will be chairman of the LifeShield Law Enforcement Advisory Council, and use what the company called his “legal insider information” on fighting crime to help guide product development and educate management and LifeShield customers on how burglars target residences, according to LifeShield, which formerly was InGrid Home Security.

LifeShield is a wireless digital home security system that’s self-installed and professionally monitored.

The company said Timoney was already a LifeShield customer before his appointment.

“I wouldn't support anything if I didn't believe in it, and I wouldn't believe in anything until I've examined it, and I've examined the LifeShield system. I know the people involved in the company, and I use it, so I know the systems are very good,” Timoney said in a statement.

Mike Hagan, CEO of LifeShield, issued a statement saying: “Timoney is precisely the kind of tough-on-crime person we want advising us—and our customers … LifeShield now has a seasoned, nationally-renowned, career police officer helping us and our customers to truly understand the criminal mind which in turn, helps us to improve our product offering and ultimately, the safety of our customers.”


The great New York State legislation debate!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I first wrote about Article 6-E, the proposed NYS legislation that would require licensing of all central station employees involved in the business of monitoring security systems in New York, a few months ago. Article 6-E is intended to be similar to 6-D, which requires licensing of the installers and service techs who actually go into end users' homes... There have been many voices pro and con, and a good debate is brewing... In addition to speaking with me and getting their voice heard, folks have also been sending their comments in to Ken Kirschenbaum's email newsletter. I've correlated some of the response I've seen there below.

Comments on New York's proposed monitoring license

To: Whom It May Concern:

From: Robert Keefe,  All American Monitoring

RE: Article 6E New York State


I have recently read of the New York State article 6E proposal regarding the separate licensing of Central Monitoring Stations and do not profess to know its content.

I also read Russ MacDonnell’s (of Rapid Response Monitoring) comments and do not detract from them.

I have been in this business as both a Monitoring and Installation Company for almost 38 years. I have seen Licensing and Alarm Ordinances come from nowhere to the bureaucratic and financial situation it is today for all of us.  Over the years, questions have been raised as to its purpose from quality of service to money to restraint of competition.

Fortunately, on the latter, while I have heard those voices over the years, always in the end wiser minds prevailed and restraint never materialized for the good of all.

We also are a Wholesale Central Station Monitoring Company for 1450 Alarm Dealers across the United States.  I agree with MacDonnell, that Dealers are very concerned regarding the monitoring of their accounts to the point we receive their visits from all parts of the country as far away as Alaska on a regular basis.  We welcome their visits and these Dealers go back home feeling they and their customers are in good hands.

Both they and us would have it no other way.

On the Licensing side, let me tell you a little bit about us.  We have been a Central Monitoring Station since 1973 and UL Certified since 1981.  We monitor in all of the United States and are licensed in all states where required with many, many municipal licenses as well. Yes, it is very time consuming and expensive, yet every state and municipality feel their purpose is beyond reproach so on it goes.  I’m not sure it stops as it seems to be the system in place and these jurisdictions want to police their area.

I am in continuous continuing education as you might imagine.

Regarding our Central Station Operation, we have two SIA trained Instructor Operators and all Operators are Level 1 or 2, CSAA certified. They are all fingerprinted and checked for criminal history by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement. They are well paid and our well qualified trained staff are second to none.

Our technology is the latest and greatest. We meet all the qualifications of a CSAA Five Diamond Central Station.  With all that we would seem to be qualified to monitor anywhere which is true except one location, that is NYC Fire Monitoring which seems to be a very closed group, and extremely difficult to become part of, which is where the tone of my letter is going.  New York State will do as New York State will do and as so many others have done including my state of Florida, so I’m not sure I’m in a place to tell them what to do.  On the restraint side, I get even more concerned and I hope there is no consideration there.

As I said, you would think with our qualifications we would be qualified to monitor Fire Alarms in NYC, but it seems very difficult to accomplish, so we are unable to do that while NYC Monitoring Companies with a Florida License are permitted to monitor Fire Alarms in all areas of Florida as far as I am aware.  If there is to be free and open fair trade, the American way, then I guess New York State will not be much different than most which brings me to my final question, regarding New York City.  If New York State implements Central Station Monitoring Licensing and its intent is not to be restrictive as we would all expect, would that then mean we would be qualified for Fire Monitoring in NYC?

While we all understand that AHJ is the final authority, I would hope NYC Fire Monitoring would be an easier task to accomplish then it currently is for well qualified Central Station’s such as we are.  I would appreciate being advised by someone in the know.

Robert makes a good point: In order to be a successful monitoring station and compete in a free market with other businesses, aren't you already doing a pretty good job of vetting your employees? Why go with more licensing?

Joe Hayes of the NYBFAA has some counterpoints:

Regarding the licensing of alarm monitoring firms.

Point #1 Those who work in NY and hold the Article 6D license (Business of Installing, Maintaining and Servicing Security and Fire Alarm Systems) are required to be fingerprinted and to fingerprint our employees, resulting in a background check of the employees. Hopefully, we all comply with that requirement. We then obtain sensitive information from our subscribers (pass codes, open and closing times, vacation schedules, etc,) and give that information to a monitoring station who may or may not (ask them, and trust but verify) fingerprint their employees. Seems that there is a glaring vulnerability that needs to be closed.

Point #2 It wont be long before some enterprising member of our industry decides to open a monitoring station in, say Mumbai or some other third world call center area. How secure would you feel exporting your client's information to an offshore monitoring station? And what about those alarm companies who monitor critical infrastructure (consider sewer plants, water pumping, electrical substation, I could go on)? Would you feel secure in having someone in a time zone 7 hours or so away monitoring those accounts? Or having access to the account information?

Point#3 There are some in our industry who have been very vocal in their opposition to the proposed Article 6E monitoring law. Those of you who have, just be man enough to take the responsibility for opposing this law (and not proposing an alternative or improvement)  when an event happens that gives a black eye to your industry. An event will happen, it's not a case of if, but when. And then, take responsibility for the law that gets rammed down out throats by the "we need to protect the people" political types. It will be worse than anything we, as an industry create. Coming from a law enforcement background, I know it is always better to police yourself than to have "outsider" police your organization.

Point#4 The NYBFAA is holding an open meeting on Feb 10, 2011 in Albany to hear comments from the industry. Your thoughts? Oh, before you comment, I suggest reading the proposed bill on our website.  Thanks

Joseph Hayes, CPP, PSP, CET

President, NY Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NYBFAA)

Interesting... Joseph argues that it's better to police oneself than to wait for municipalities to be hurt by rogue central stations or operators from Mumbai...

Someone calling himself Portland Paul also comes down in favor of the licensing, saying it won't be that expensive...:

Let me figure out the increased cost of the proposed licensing requirement in New York  that will be passed on to the Rapid Response Dealers based on the cost of a license in my state, which is $310's every two years.  1200 dealers divided by $310.00 equals $3.87 per dealer every two years or $1.94 a year. Hopefully they already have their insurance coverage handled. That shouldn't change whether you are licensed or not. If you are already following good sound business practices, I doubt the law will have you change anything so your cost shouldn't go up to meet the requirements. If your are using good business practices in the security industry, than you are probably overcharging the dealers anyways. I will pay that $1.94 increase in a heart beat to know that I am dealing with a company that is regulated and following the law. Stop whining. Get licensed. You are already doing it other states, so what is the big deal.

Portland Paul

Someone else going by the name Dusan says it's not about the cost, but about the principle...:

To Portland Paul: It is a big deal! It isn't about the fee. It is about government control, extortion, fines and punishment of working people and businesses. When you allow the government to create unreasonable laws, or laws not clearly black&white on LOCAL LEVEL, then every County, every Town will have different laws. You won't be able to know, or follow the laws, you may not even be allowed to work in a ZIP code other than your own, and if you do, you may face fines and imprisonment. You may get busted by cops, locked up, your truck impounded or broken in - because you failed to recognize some local law which was never published and you couldn't even know existed. That's what LOCAL government control will do.


Morgan Hertel over at Mace CSSS comes down against the proposed licensing law:

To all:

Regarding  6E, and state licensing of out of state central stations.

First of all if you don’t post your real name and company on Kens list no one takes you seriously.

1, New York has no money to fund and administer this program, read the papers they are laying off people everywhere.

2, Even if it were passed NYS has no standing outside their borders, no money to travel and prosecute and therefore cannot enforce this, the only people that will get this is the good guys that already have licensing and good employee screening and training, the rest of the companies will not get licensed and no one will care or be able to do anything about it.

3, The ordinance is poorly written in my opinion, having things like 69-EE, Section 5, Page 6 were principals SHALL be held responsible for the actions committed by their operators is a huge mistake, if you have not read the entire thing you need to.

4, To the group that thinks that legislating competition away is the answer, this is a mistake, dealers are very sophisticated today, saying that there is a threat of having central stations in India will take over is a farce, and if you really are concerned next time you call your bank and get an out of the country call center are you going to pull out of the bank, the world is changing but market forces are much better suited to deal with these concerns.

5, Everyone I have spoke with in the monitoring industry is committed to having cleared, smart and trained operators working, but what we don’t need is to license the same person 100’s of times in all the states and communities in North America, what we want is one federal monitoring license.

It only makes sense, the feds have the best resources to background check, they have standing everywhere in the country. We can still register with the states even pay a fee for this for those states looking for revenue.

Having a federal requirement assures everything you want to accomplish in 6e, makes it enforceable and makes it easier for the national monitoring companies.

Morgan Hertel

Vice President and General Manager

Mace CS

What's your opinion? Voice it here, or better yet, go to the NYBFAA meeting on Feb. 10 or at least draft your POV in a letter or email for the NYBFAA. Get educated by reading the proposal and stay informed. Get involved and make a difference now--when your efforts matter--and not after the decisions have been made when there's nothing to be done.

Securing Congress

Friday, January 21, 2011

Members of the House of Representative have been given the OK the spend up to $10,000 to improve the physical security systems in their district offices, something that's obviously on the mind of many following the Jan. 8 tragedy in Tuscon, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot, and six people were killed.

The pre-approval is only for one security installation and monitoring company, ADT, according to a story in Roll Call.  Members of Congress who want to spend more than $10,000 or use a company other than ADT must seek special approval from the House Sargeant-at-Arms.

ADT, the story notes, is on the GSA schedule.

From the story: "A spokeswoman for House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood said he is not showing preference for ADT because he is “precluded from endorsing any one company or product.”

“However, ADT is a nationwide company that is on the [General Services Administration] schedule,” spokeswoman Kerri Hanley said in an e-mail. “They can provide a standardized level of equipment and performance to all Members in all districts. ADT provides similar services to the Senate and courts and understands the nuances of protecting high profile clients.”

Indeed, as SSN reported in 2002 and 2006, ADT got a contract in 2002 to secure U.S. courthouses  and in 2006, following the murder of family members of a federal judge, ADT was given a contract to install and monitor security systems in the homes of federal judges.ADT subsequently got the contract to monitor the systems as well.

Members of Congress haven't hesitated to use other security companies, however, and the report says that members have opted to use Per Mar Security, Alliance Security Systems and Guardian Protection Services and First Solutions, Inc.

Here's a link to the story.



Smart meters smart for security industry?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smart meters are in the news because electric utilities around the nation are busy installing the devices on homes and businesses to enable better collection of power-use data and to save money.

And smart meters are also increasingly making news in the security industry—for a variety of reasons.

For example, smart meters just made headlines on the Security Systems News web site because APX Alarm recently acquired a company that installs smart meters for utilities. The acquisition of Meter Solutions, which APX announced Jan. 12,  is the first acquistion in APX’s 11-year history.

Alex Dunn, APX COO, explained why that Utah-based security company bought the smart meter installer, saying it would create a new channel to increase customers, leading with energy management and then upgrading them to other services such as security.

However, most of the news about smart meters in the industry is not so positive.

For instance, in the fall edition of the CSAA Dispatch, a publication of the Central Station Alarm Association, an article raises concerns about smart meters. It notes that news reports say that property owners have been experiencing problems with their other electronics, including security alarms.

Among questions the article says should be considered are: “What happens to home alarms when smart meters interfere? and “Are homes left vulnerable to break-ins?” Also, the article questions whether smart meters can lead to more false alarms, costing municipalities and property owners money (if alarm owners are fined for false alarms.)

In Maine, such concerns as smart meters interfering with security alarms has led Central Maine Power to allow customers to temporarily opt out from installation.

That option will continue until the state’s Public Utilities Commission decides whether CMP's policy of no opt-outs is reasonable or discriminatory. The utility opposes a permanent opt out, saying that if some customers don’t participate, it creates a void in the grid.

CMP has offered to install meters away from areas of concern in a home or business, but says individual customers would have to bear the cost, which could range from $750 to $5,000, according to a story today in the Portland Press Herald. A meeting between the PUC, the utility and intervenors is scheduled for next week, the paper said.

Communications with APX suggest there may be a way around such problems. APX said it hasn't encountered any interference issues between smart meters and that company's systems.

Dunn said in a statement: “An advantage of APX products is that our home security panel and smart meters use complimentary technologies that communicate with one another, eliminating concerns of possible interference."



Exhibiting at ISC West?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are you exhibiting a new product in your booth at ISC West?

Would you like your new product to be featured in SSN's new show product listing? If you've got two new products, you can send 'em both and we'll feature one in the March issue as part of our pre-show coverage, and one in the April issue, which is the official ISC West show issue.

Click here for a the link to submit your new products. All of the instructions are there, including where to sending photos, how to label them, "ABC Company for March" etc is there. If you have any questions, give me a call.

Oh, and we're firm on the deadlines: January 25 for the March issue and February 25 for the April issue.

Get in the know! Free webinars from CSAA aim to educate

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's a "Tale of Two Toms" from competing NRTLS! (yes, it's a Dickens reference... I was an English major... What do you expect?)

CSAA's executive director Steve Doyle said it wasn't intentional that the two webinars were two competing NRTLs back to back. "We always reach out and try and see who would be most appropriate, and this is just the way it lined up," Steve said.

There're two free webinars coming your way in the near future. They promise to provide oodles of info and probably entertain as well. One is moderated by Intertek's Tom Connaughton and the other by UL's Tom Presnak. Both Webinars will be available for later viewing.

The CSAA has two webinars on tap for the immediate future. The first is slated for  Feb. 23 at 2 pm EST. It will be presented by recently CSAA-approved NRTL Intertek and is titled "Third Party Listings for Central Stations."

Seems appropriate that they would want to educate the masses on their choices for options when it comes to what third-party listing means, and the benefits that it provides to a business and to the industry.

The webinar will be presented by Thomas Connaughton, global business manager of life safety and security for Intertek. Tom and Intertek fought the battle for recognition for a while (here he his sitting down with SSN editor--then managing editor--Martha Entwistle at ESX '09). I sat down with Tom at ESX in Pittsburgh last June. He's a heck of a nice guy and very passionate about what he does.

CSAA says "You'll learn about your choices in selecting a listing agency (NRTLs) and how you can partner with them to reduce the stress of the listing and auditing process. Attendees of the webinar will take away a basic understanding of the standards, requirements and listing process, and learn about the common pitfalls." 

The second webinar is due to take place on March 23, at 2 pm EST, and will be presented by UL's Tom Presnak. Titled "Understanding Your Local AHJ and Creating An Effective Working Relationship," CSAA says the webinar "will help to provide insight into best practices in working with the local AHJs, the steps you can take to improve your working relationship with AJHs, and tools/programs at your disposal that can provide you the best odds of long-term success."

Sounds like a good piece of education. Presnak is a 25-plus-year veteran of Underwriters Laboratories who performs evaluations and audits of fire alarm companies throughout the United States. 

"We have gotten very much involved in standards and with AHJs and with education," Steve said. "We've learned that as we got into the business of doing Facebook and Wikis that participation in social media and online education is staggering."

CSAA's new director of marketing and communications Monique Silverio said the importance of education couldn't be overestimated. "One of the nice things about these webinars is that we're able to tap into the expertise of our members," Monique said. "They have this knowledge and they want to share this knowledge." Monique replaced former CSAA director of marketing and communications Celia Besore.

I covered the last UL led CSAA webinar on UL 2050, which was presented by UL's Pete Tallman (also a heck of a nice guy).

For more information about the new CSAA webinars, contact Monique at 703-242-4670, ext. 16.

Next ontap, according to Monique, will be a webinar related to social media in May. Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available. 

Defrauding ADT and Verizon results in 15-year sentence

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saw this story published today by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal about the consequences a South Carolina man now faces after trying to hoodwink ADT and a wireless provider:

“SPARTANBURG, S.C.–A Woodruff man received a 15-year prison sentence and five years probation Tuesday after admitting he bilked two nationally known companies out of equipment valued at more than $265,000.

Richard E. Lyons, 26, pleaded guilty to seven counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent.

Circuit Judge Derham Cole's sentence includes $237,000 in restitution, according to the 7th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Between Aug. 13, 2009, and April 5, Lyons ordered equipment from ADT Home Security and Verizon Wireless, authorities said.

The property, which ranged in value from $2,000 to more than $91,000, was delivered to addresses in Woodruff. Lyons attempted to pay for some of the deliveries with fraudulent checks. He represented himself to be affiliated with two companies at various points.

ADT reported the crime to Woodruff police in May. During their probe, police recovered about $30,000 worth of stolen property. When he was arrested in July, Lyons attempted to explain his actions in a two-page written police statement. In court on Tuesday, Lyons told Judge Cole he committed the crimes to support his drug habit.”


Select Security takes from the big boys

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Select Security, a super-regional alarm company based in Lancaster, Pa., successfully experimented with a summer model program last summer to beat the big boys at their own game. This summer, the company is going a step further: It is not only repeating its summer sales program but has hired a sales representative from one of the big companies to run it.

I’ve written previously about how Select Security president Patrick Egan went to Utah, home of the big summer model companies, and hired some college students to sell alarm systems for Select Security door to door in Pennsylvania.

This summer, Select Security plans to have even more teams of college student summer sales staff—and it now has hired one of Pinnacle Security’s former sales reps to run the program.

Select Security announced Jan. 13 that Derek Taylor, who formerly worked for Pinnacle, an Orem, Utah-based company that does summer-model sales nationwide, joined Select Security as of Monday this week as Select Security's Residential Program Sales Manager.

“We’re excited,” Egan told me. He said the company ran an ad and Taylor applied and “came out shining.”

“He’s had some real strong individual performance and he knows the (door-to-door) model very, very well … and we think he’s going to build a good team,” Egan said.

Taylor will work out of the company’s corporate office in Lancaster, but will begin recruiting efforts in Utah, starting next week, Egan said.

“He’ll be joining us in Provo…he’s already got lots of people lined up for us to see,” Egan said. He added that Taylor also would be recruiting around the country. “He’s got a whole bunch of other areas he wants to recruit in,” Egan said.

Taylor, 26, told me he’s been in the industry about five years. He said he saw Select Security's ad on Craiglist and said he’s eager to work with the company because they operate year round and are successful.

“I want to work with Patrick and the guys and take a residential program to new heights and to new levels,” Taylor said.

Egan said sales representatives will have an advantage working for a traditional security company like his, which does business throughout Pennsylvania. "They're going into our markets," he said. "They're going to be selling our name, they're not selling for an out-of-state company. It should be an easier sale and easier close."