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How'd The Carlyle Group find DIGIOP?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Carlyle Group, which announced this week it bought DIGIOP, a video and data management software provider,  got to know the company through another company it owns, Supercircuits.

The Carlyle Group bought Supercircuits in 2006, and then invested another $10 m in the company in 2009. Here’s a story from 2009 about that investment and about how Supercircuits is able to sell direct to the end user and to the channel.

Rich Mellott, president of DIGIOP, told me that The Carlyle Group got to know the DIGIOP product line because Supercircuits OEMed a product for SCBlack portfolio “and its was the highest volume product on the systems side of the house,” he said. “That’s how we got involved and introduced to The Carlyle Group.”

And Supercircuits was at ISC West last year with the product. Here’s a press release about that.

Mellott said although Supercircuits will sell to anyone, its primary focus is on the end user.

The Carlyle Group wanted to invest in a technology company that had a “channel focus,” he said, and it looked to DIGIOP for that.

Is there a potential conflict here? Mellott said no.

While Carlyle now owns both Supercircuits and DIGIOP, they’re “separately owned businesses with separate business strategies.”

Mellot says that the solution it OEMs to Supercircuits is “very similarly configured to what we sell into the channel, but [the version for the channel] has additional features and options.”

“From our standpoint, our focus will be to cater to the dealer and integrator,” Mellot said. “We don’t have the support structure to cater to the end user, they [Supercircuits] do.”

In addition, DIGIOP has higher level “Tier II and III solutions” it’s developed  and the ability to work with integrated solutions. Plus, “a lot of dealers and integrators want to have a direct relationship with the manufacturer,” he said.

DIGIOP as founded in early 2000 and was owned by its original investors, who are based in Houston, until the Carlyle acquisition. “We now have more capital and capability to be able to invest and grow the business to a level that we’ve not had before,” Mellott said.

There will be a big marketing push, better logistics to make the products more readily available, a new sales force, and “resources to move the technology along in a quicker fashion.”

DIGIOP is also re-launching its Certified Integrator Partner program this spring.

The company will be at ISC West this year, in a suite in the Venetian. The deal was not finalized soon enough to get a prime spot on the show floor for 2011, Mellott said, but they’ll be on the show floor proper in 2012.


American Alarm bolts on

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Acquisition has been the name of the game for American Alarm security systems for some time now—and the Arlington, Mass.-based company announced its latest buy this week: Alert Security Systems of Leicester, Mass., a bolt-on in its Worcester branch's backyard.

Company president Wells Sampson told me that in the past 18 years, American Alarm has made 17 acquisitions. He said many of them have been in the past decade and “especially in the last five years, we’ve put a big push on to accelerate that effort.”

The acquisition of Alert Security, located in a suburb of Worcester, Mass., expands American Alarm’s presence in the middle of the state, Sampson said.

“We built our Worcester office originally through a couple of acquisitions and so now we’re trying to strengthen that Worcester, central Massachusetts operation,” Sampson said in an interview March 9, when the company announced the acquisition.

Alert Security, founded in 1984 by Edward Nelson, was small compared to American Alarm. It provided security systems installation, service and monitoring for more than 100 homes and businesses in Worcester County.

By contrast, American Alarm, which turns 40 this year, is a large independent security systems integration firm, with 140 employees serving about 15,000 residential, commercial and public sector customers in New England. About 60 percent of its business is resi, and it has four branches—three in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire—and its own UL-listed certified central station in Arlington, Mass.

But Sampson said the purchase was a “win-win-win” for American Alarm, Alert Security and its customers.

He said that for American Alarm, it “increases our customer base in the Worcester market. The more customers we have in a geographic area the more efficient we can be serving customers. We’re already staffed there so we can provide a pretty high service level to those customers and it helps us with our growth plan, growing customers and growing service capabilities.”

Sampson said Nelson was the sole employee of Alert Security, and he benefited too. “He needs to redirect some of this attention to family matters and other professional endeavors and so it sort of frees him up to do that,” Sampson said. Nelson will assist American Alarm as needed, Sampson said.

And the buy is a win for Alert Security’s customers, virtually all of them residential, Sampson said. “We can provide more depth in terms of the numbers of technicians, service and support than a smaller company can provide,” he said. American Alarm can also offer the customers new technologies, different payment options, redundant communications options and video, Sampson said. “It’s more choice, more options, more capabilities,” he said.

Also, he said, American Alarm can offer in-house monitoring to customers—Alert Security had sourced out its monitoring.

“A key point now is that the installation and service and monitoring can be all under one roof, which can give better, seamless customer service,’ Sampson said.

He said that the customers acquired are valuable ones because Nelson, the former owner, ran such a good company. “They’re happy, long-term satisfied customers,” Sampson said.

He declined to be specific about terms of the acquisition but said, “Obviously, that kind of customer base commands a premium set of terms.”

Are there more acquisitions planned for 2011? Stay tuned.

“We’ve always got more in the pipeline,” Sampson said. “We’re a New England-based regional company and we’re looking to expand both in our core branch office territories—that’s the top priority to fold in high quality, good-customer-service type of companies in our existing footprint—and then the next priority is to expand the footprint to additional new England metropolitan city areas.”


Priority response to verified alarms marches on...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I got a call and an email from alarm verification's de facto spokesman, Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies yesterday. He wanted to let me know that his priority response crusade is going well. He'd just finished up in Boston and was on his way to Idaho. He'd also spent some time in California. Looks like they're falling with what Keith and other proponents like Sonitrol have said is the priority response value proposition.

The big news appears to be that a lot of the southern part of the state is making official announcements of its backing of the priority response model, in which police grant higher response priority to alarms that are proactively verified by some kind of video or audio.

Here's what Keith had to say about Californina:

Boston has already moved forward on this and I just completed making presentations to the PSAPs in the 4 largest counties in southern California:

- Los Angeles County

- Orange County

- Riverside County

- San Bernardino County

All of them are moving forward with the Priority Response program. We go to every meeting with the larger security companies in the area. For the Southern California meetings we had:

- Stanley


- USA (George Gunning, the owner, is the past president of the ESA)

I've been writing about verified alarms and the priority response movement for a while. Keith wanted let me know he'll be conducting a priority response seminar at ISC West next month on Tuesday April 5 in the morning... Not sure if I can make it since I may be in transit at the time, but I'm certainly going to try.

Here's a little of what Keith sent me on his seminar:

I have been very busy on working with the PSAPs (public safety answering points) also known as the 911 dispatch centers. Here are the details on the seminar that I will be making at ISC West on the topic ...

Tuesday, 04/05/2011: 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Priority Response: More Arrests, Efficiency, Safety

Priority Response is being embraced by law enforcement as a painless alternative to non-response that delivers more arrests and greater life safety. Using Priority Response, new generic video alarm systems send video clips of what caused alarm for immediate review. This enables dispatchers to assess priority, using confirmation of the alarm. However, in order to be effective in the dispatch center (PSAPs), a policy upgrade is necessary. This presentation will provide case studies of 3 different alarm technologies that are already working. Attendees will learn the new code used in the dispatch center for video alarms, the email address that Central Stations should use to send video clips to PSAP, and how to make a formal policy announcement to the community.

Learning Objectives:

1.  Understand that Priority Response is vendor neutral

2.  Showcase the ability of Priority Response to improve life safety, increase arrests and provide greater crime deterrence.

3.  Learn how to implement Priority Response in the 911 dispatch center with a simple policy change.

Speaker: Keith Jentoft, President, Videofied - RSI Video Technologies

Instead of the cumbersome and difficult process of implementing alarm ordinances, the PSAP manager can simply make a policy decision to grant higher priority response to video intrusion alarms.

Priority response appears to be really moving forward. I've written before, when I did a story on AD Group's Dedicated Micros, that in the UK, priority response is already the standard... What's your opinion? Do you offer some sort of verified solution?

I also just found out from Keith that he'd been invited to speak at an upcoming APCO event. Security folks don't get invited to these things often--let alone asked to speak. I covered some recognition Vector's Pam Petrow got last year for her extensive work on a computer-aided dispatch system—the External Alarm Interface Exchange Standard—for PSAP to central station data exchange.

Here's what Keith had to say to me in an email last night:

"This just happened yesterday.  I was just invited to speak at the national convention of APCO.  This is the association of all of the PSAPs (911 centers) around the country who actually receive the calls from the central stations and dispatch law enforcement to the alarms.  I don’t think that the alarm industry has ever been invited to speak at an APCO event."

Let me know what your thoughts are on priority response.

Infinova ready to buy?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Camera manufacturer Infinova, which went public in December with a $300 million IPO in China,  announced today that it’s hired someone to lead the acquisition strategy: Stephen G. Cannellos. Cannellos, whose title is VP of strategic business development has worked at Assa Abloy, Tyco and Software House and GE. According to the release, he’s shown “success at three venture-backed technology start-ups.”

I inquired about those start-ups and heard heard back from Cannellos via email. The start-ups he was involved with were: "Apollo computer (Computers, Network, Operating systems),Voicetek Corporation (Telecom), Cognition (Mechanical Computer Aided Engineering systems).I did my own start-up, EXOS Systems, in the Integrated GPS and Access Control system market after leaving Tyco.  That was with angel investors and my own."

Infinova CEO Jeffrey Liu told me in December that the company had just started looking for acquisitions but that “another small manufacturer would be likely.”

From the release: “We are starting to look for suitable technology companies to form partnerships and alliances that will advance Infinova solutions and acquisition of complementary companies to grow our market share.  We look forward to Stephan helping us accomplish this,” Liu said in a prepared statement.

Infinova has 290 engineers. Its goal is to “enable end-users to extend the life of their existing analog equipment by having it co-exist with their new IP video equipment, Infinova provides core equipment for video control rooms, megapixel, IP and analog surveillance cameras, specialized cameras, fiber optic communications products and customized systems.”


Proposed N.J. legislation ‘anti-competitive?’

Thursday, March 3, 2011

TRENTON, N.J.—Hot on the heels of the New York licensing flap over Article 6-E, proposed legislation in New Jersey that looks to restrict doing business in the state to alarm companies that have business offices here has at least one alarm company owner concerned.

“This is being done quickly and quietly,” said Peter Rogers, COO of McLean, Va.-based FrontPoint Security of A-2394. “What it really comes down to is making life more difficult for any out-of-state competitors. Think of all the companies in New York or Pennsylvania, or Delaware and even farther afield who are following all the rules, but suddenly they can’t operate. It’s anti-competitive and bad for consumers.”

FrontPoint is licensed to do business in New Jersey, but maintains no brick-and-mortar presence there.

The NJBFAA said it proposed the legislation to protect consumers from out-of-state companies that could potentially operate “under the radar.”

“The benefit from this is that it will substantiate the regulations to make sure that permitting for jobs is being properly done by a business qualifier or a licensed individual and to provide onsite supervision,” NJBFAA president Rich Trevelise said. “That way if an issue comes up on a project it can be addressed in a timely fashion by an onsite license holder.”

Eric Pritchard, attorney with Kleinbard Bell & Brecker, said A-2394 is not groundbreaking.

“States are permitted to regulate these sorts of activities, and in fact many do regulate security and fire services,” he said. “Many states have requirements like that being considered in New Jersey.”

The legislation continues to go through revisions and gain momentum. Particularly onerous according to Rogers is a recent amendment that removes a clause allowing out-of-state companies to do business if they at least maintain a power of attorney in New Jersey.

What will be the impact of this legislation if it passes?

“The question becomes, what’s driving this. And from an outsider’s perspective this will be viewed as an anti-competitive effort on the part of those within the state. The impact will certainly be that it lessens competition,” Pritchard said. “Part of what I’ve been told is that what’s driving this is regulating the summer programs. I have tell you, if I represented a summer model company that was trying to do business in New Jersey, I don’t think it would be that difficult to comply with this law. I think this will lead to office-sharing arrangements—which exist in other states already—where a number of alarm companies get together and rent space or pay a service fee to a service provider to act as the local office. It happens in all industries all the time in all states.”

What’s next for A-2394?

“We passed the first milestone in mid-February when it made it through the assembly,” Trevelise said. “The next step is for it to go to the Senate.” The NJBFAA said it welcomes all comments from the industry.


Security videos on video monitoring

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I got an email from Andy Stadler over at Security Partners yesterday. He wanted to pass on a link to a video he'd made explaining video monitoring and the video services Security Partners offers. I welcome such videos from my readers. I'd love to get a look and write about what you're doing.

I hadn't talked with Andy for a while--not since I wrote about Security Partners launching their annual Video Monitoring Symposium Network convention.

Looks like video’s something they’re really getting into these days.

“As a boutique wholesale central station with under 50k accounts we needed to differentiate ourselves from our competition so we bought Immix in 2008 and decided to get ahead of the curve if we could,” Andy told me. “We partnered up with a dealer in the Midwest who was had a vertical for video monitoring to replace on-site guards and we have been cutting our teeth together in this complex process for the last two years.”

I asked Andy if they’d started to specialize their operators out into intrusion-specific and video-specific pods such as has been done at other monitoring centers, and he said that may be on the way.

“At this time we have our video and traditional alarms co-mingled within our staff, but typically a supervisor handles the video alarms since it requires a higher skill set,” Andy said. “Our goal is to eventually create an entirely separate video division when the demand gets to a certain point.”

Video’s pretty cool.

I’ve talked a lot with security industry folks who do high-end video for business clients, folks who do a lot of municipal monitoring and folks who like having video in the home.

All of them agree, video is becoming more and more ubiquitous as technology improves and prices come down.

Thanks for the video, Andy.

ADT goes to the movies

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A new thriller movie is expected to be released on DVD/Blu-ray this month—and the film features ADT Security Services alongside its star, Academy Award winner Hilary Swank.

“It’s a kind of different tactic for us—going Hollywood,” Bob Tucker, ADT director of public relations, told me. “This is the first time in recent memory that ADT has had a product placement on a major motion picture.”

The film is called “The Resident.” According to a press release from Image Entertainment, it’s about a young doctor, played by Swank, who begins a new life in Brooklyn after separating from her husband. “Her stunning and spacious loft seems too good to be true, and when mysterious occurrences lead her to believe she’s not alone, she discovers the unthinkable … someone is watching her,” the release says.

Enter, stage left, ADT. In a trailer for the film now running on TV and the Internet, you can see the character played by Swank turning to an ADT interactive services solution for protection. The name of the company appears on a computer screen as an actor playing an installer sits in front of the screen explaining to Swank how the security systems works.

Tucker, like the rest of us, has to wait until later this month to see the rest of the film, which he said is going straight to DVD instead of opening in theaters. But he said he’s heard that there are other references to ADT in the film.

“We did this as a cool way to promote our new technology and believe the partnership with the studio was mutually beneficial,” Tucker said.


Stanley acquires in the U.K.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

At the Barnes Buchanan conference last month there was conjecture that Stanley CSS may make a big play in the residential security space this year.

No news on that front yet, but Stanley CSS did announce this afternoon that it acquired three, mostly commercial, security companies in the U.K.

While the three companies that were acquired are in the U.K., the company that owned the three companies is a North American company. The owner was Verifier Capital, which is based in Florida.

According to its web site, Verifier Capital’s traditional specialty is providing capital to small- and medium-sized alarm companies with financing needs from $1m to $10m. 
It “traditionally served the Sonitrol franchise network,” (which would explain why it’s working with Stanley) but “recently expanded its operations to the broader US commercial security alarm industry, where we provide capital to security alarm companies engaged in all types of monitoring services, from traditional intrusion detection to CCTV and remote video monitoring.” Not sure how recently this happened, but I’ll be talking to the president this week.

The companies that Stanley bought, include Smiths Security Services, Raysil Security Systems, and SRP Security Systems, located in Oxfordshire, Surrey and Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, respectively.  The companies are “mostly commercial accounts including top universities, telecommunications, financial, healthcare and retail customers throughout the UK," according to the Stanley release. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. 

Tony Byerly, President Stanley CSS North America and is also president of United Kingdom Direct. Stanley CSS already has six offices in the United Kingdom and a new monitoring center in Swindon, UK

Does this affect the North American security market? Felix Gonzales
 VP strategic initiatives & business development, told me via email, yes.

"This acquisition has an impact on U.S. market. Many U.S. based companies are expanding their businesses overseas and globally. This acquisition expands & strengths Stanley’s direct service capabilities for customers wanting to do business with one security provider for their locations in North America and UK; along with France."  

 Stanley has more than 75 offices and serves more than 120 of the largest metropolitan markets in North America. Stanley CSS designs, installs, monitors and services security systems for industrial, government, commercial, residential and national account customers.  It has 300,000 customers in North America.


"Dude, all this security's got me beat... I need a back rub and a Yoo-Hoo!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Come on, you know you're gonna find yourself uttering that phrase to yourself at least a couple times in Vegas next month. I know I will... But then I'm saying that pretty much every day by 2 o'clock like a mantra anyway. So maybe it's just me.

Regardless, I was happy to get a press release from San Antonio-based United Central Control today. Looks like they're going to have licensed massage therapists on-... uh... hand (no pun intended) at ISC West in their hospitality booth to provide free back and attitude adjustments to ease your marching up and down the nearly sold-out aisles of the Sands Convention Center! That's awesome! I'm definitely going to stop by and take a load off...

I'm hopeful about the Yoo-Hoo, as well...

I've written about UCC before. Specifically, I've covered Tracey Ritchie when she was in our annual 20 Under 40 list and again when she was promotoed to UCC's new GM at ESX last summer.

Here's the release from UCC:

UCC Offers Free Hospitality Suite at ISC West

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (February 14, 2011) – ISC West attendees can take a break, relax, and maybe even win an iPod Touch at United Central Control’s (UCC) “Relaxation Booth”.  The room will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7, in the Galileo Ballroom 902, between the Sands Convention Center and Venetian Hotel. 

“If folks just want to get off their feet and wind down for a few minutes, or learn more about UCC and out team members, they’re welcome to stop by.  No RSVP is required to come by the suite.  In addition to refreshments, we’ll have certified massage therapists on site to work out the travel kinks,” said UCC Senior Vice President Mark Matlock.  “We’ll also have a drawing for an iPod Touch.”

Similarly, Wednesday evening, April 6, Team UCC is inviting ISC West attendees to join them at its Eighth Annual ISCParty.  It is scheduled for the DEF room at the Treasure Island Hotel on the second floor convention level, from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

“We’ll have a magician and a pianist for entertainment as well as a “surprise celebrity impersonator”.  Again, anyone is welcome, but we do want folks to RSVP for the party beforehand,” Matlock said.

RSVP to either Kathryn Schultz at, (866) 907-4712 or at the UCC Web site “We are also looking into hiring a Frank Sinatra impersonator but we haven’t nailed that detail down just yet,” Matlock added.

Sounds like a pretty good deal! See you in the massage/Yoo-Hoo tent! Stop by and see us. We'll grab a Yoo-Hoo.

Security “Oscar” goes to “Unstoppable.”

Monday, February 28, 2011

The envelope, please. And the winner in the category of a film that best depicts the realistic use of modern security technology in mainstream media is … “Unstoppable.”

OK, the 2010 movie, which stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine as two railroad employees racing against the clock to try to stop an unmanned, half-mile-long train barreling toward a city before a catastrophe occurs, didn’t win an Oscar. It actually didn’t even get nominated for one.

But the movie took Moore Protection’s highest film honor for its portrayal of security technology. That Los Angeles residential security firm, whose clients include “many of the movers and shakers in the entertainment industry,” has awarded its annual Morpheus Award to the movie’s director Tony Scott.

Don Moore, company president, said the film stood out. Not only was the action thriller “a great movie,” Moore told me, but “closed circuit television played a big part in it … They used CCTV to track the progress of the train.”

Moore, who timed the announcement of the award to coincide with the Academy Awards, told me that Moore Protection “wanted to find a way to publicize the positive uses of security technology in Hollywood, especially during awards season.”

Also, he said, “the Morpheus Award is an excuse to remind customers to use their alarm systems.”

"It never fails that someone experiences a burglary during one of the many awards shows,” he said. “Thieves know when they see limousines all over these affluent hillside communities of L.A. that the chances of finding an empty home full of valuable goodies increase exponentially. It’s a target-rich environment for burglars all year long, but the odds of a homeowner distracted by thoughts of red carpets and neglecting to arm their security system before leaving for an event make their illegal activities a lot easier.”

In Greek mythology, Morpheus was the name of the god of dreams and visions. Moore said the vision aspect relates to CCTV. Also, he said, the word sounds somewhat similar to his company’s name.

For years, the company has usually just announced the award internally and to clients, Moore said. This year he announced it publicly, and he wants to make it even more of an event in the coming year. That’s why he said he’s opening it up “to dealers nationwide to send nominations” of 2011 films they see that make the best use of security technology. Moore said nominations should go to the company’s VP of sales and resident movie buff, John Akouris, at