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Battered but unbowed

 - 
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wayne Wahrsager’s New York Merchants Protective Co. Inc.—an alarm company in existence for more than 100 years—is no more as the result of a $20 million breach-of contract lawsuit filed against the company and Wahrsager last year by Bank of America.

But Wahrsager tells me he is still very much a player in the security industry—and planning to launch a new alarm company in October with $50 million in funding behind it.

“You just brush yourself off and start all over,” he told me this week.

It seems that what Wahrsager experienced over the past year and half would have had most people down for the count.

First, in January 2011, came the Bank of America lawsuit contending it was owed more than $19.2 million for the default of a loan.

Then, four months later, Wahrsager got fired from his job as president of NYMP and pretty much literally got thrown out of the company’s Freeport, N.Y.-based office by the receiver a judge appointed to run the company. The receiver changed the locks at the office to keep Wahrsager out but he just took his office door off its hinges and continued coming to work until a judge ordered him gone that May.

Then, last October, the judge approved the sale of NYMP’s assets to pay off creditors. The sale to Professional Security Technologies of New Jersey was completed earlier this year, Wahrsager told me.

He’d been involved NYMP since 1988, but the previous owners were cousins so it was a family business that turned 100 years old in 2010, he said.

Wahrsager contends that the company went for far less than it was worth, and that if Bank of America had been willing to work with him, he would have repaid the loan “100 cents on the dollar.” He said he’s still a named defendant in the lawsuit, which is still pending.

But Wahrsager said he’s working as a consultant for Bellmore, N.Y.-based Commercial Fire & Security, which he said was formed about a year ago.

And he’s involved in the start up of a new company that he said has a group of investors behind it and is expected to launch by the end of October if all goes as planned. The company may be called Commercial Fire & Security—the new company may acquire the existing one—or take on a new name, he said. It will be based somewhere on Long Island, Wahrsager said.

Stay tuned—it looks like another round for Wayne Wahrsager.

Industry veteran mourned

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Monday, August 6, 2012

We at Security Systems News were very saddened to learn about the sudden passing of David Merrick, marketing director for Pittsburgh-based Vector Security. A veteran of the industry, he was a member of our Editorial Advisory Board, a great source of knowledge, and also just an all-around nice guy. He’ll be missed.

David, 60, a Pennsylvania resident, died July 31 at a local hospital. Here’s more about his career of more than three decades, provided by Vector Security:

David began his career in the electronic security industry during 1979. Since that time he has held various sales and marketing management positions, first with Automatic Detection Systems and then Triple A Protection, a Pennsylvania-based regional supplier of residential and commercial electronic security and uniformed guard services.

In 1999, David became part of Vector Security, holding the position of Director of Marketing for Vector Security's National Accounts Division.

Active in the security industry, David served as a board member of the Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, and was the recipient of the NBFAA 2002 President’s Award. He authored a variety of sales and marketing-related articles in a number of industry magazines, and was an editorial board member of Security Systems News.

David’s work has been featured in various industry magazine articles, merited three SAMMY nominations, and captured the honor twice. He was also the author of the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association’s (NBFAA) Reassuring America Program.

An obituary from the Sheldon-Kukuchka Funeral Home said David is survived by his wife Nina Mowry Merrick; a stepson and stepdaughter; a brother; a granddaughter and a goddaughter.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.sheldonkukuchkafuneralhome.com

Lenel and Mercury Settle

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last summer panel manufacturer Mercury Security filed a lawsuit against Lenel Systems International concerning a contract dispute and alleged copyright infringement. While there was no mention of the lawsuit itself, Mercury and Lenel on July 30 jointly announced a “long-term agreement for access control hardwar

I’ve called both Lenel and Mercury, but have not heard back yet. I understand that both Frank Gasztonyi, co-founder and CTO of Mercury Security, and Steve Wagner, Mercury’s VP of marketing are both, atending an event at Lenel headquarters

The announcement said the agreement is “to provide access control hardware for use with the Lenel OnGuard Total Security Platform.”  

In a statement, Gasztonyi said that Mercury and Lenel “look forward to working together to enhance and improve existing product lines and to provide the industry with new, innovative and highly competitive products into the next decade. After a successful 16-year relationship, we are thrilled to enter into a long-term agreement that allows us to collaborate closely with the industry’s premium access control systems brand.”

Joe Kirmser, president of Lenel, said this in the statement: “Mercury and Lenel have successfully innovated industry-leading security solutions for many years. We are both focused on meeting customer and market needs by jointly developing differentiated solutions.”

Double take on 2G: Readers see 'sunset' differently

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If nothing else, last week's blog on the 2G sunset served to toss another log on the fire in the debate over how long the technology will last in the face of frequency harvesting by carriers. Among the responses I received was an argument that 2G will remain viable in part due to CDMA-based equipment, which could stick around a lot longer than its GPRS and GMS cousins.

"I was reading your 2G sunset blog this morning and wanted to point out that many cellular alarm solution providers support T-Mobile USA or other 2G carriers along with AT&T Wireless coverage," said the reader, who said I could pass along his remarks on condition of anonymity. "AT&T is the carrier making the most noise about phasing out 2G GPRS, but T-Mobile has no current plans to sunset. Also, CDMA-based carriers like Verizon and Sprint still have a long planned life for 2G CDMA."

The reader agreed that the issue is critical for the industry, saying the majority of cellular alarm systems currently deployed utilize 2G GPRS on AT&T. But he took issue with the terminology being used and urged others to do the same.

"While AT&T-based cellular alarm providers certainly have the largest marketing presence, please be careful referring to the AT&T GPRS sunset as a '2G sunset,' because many 2G alarm solutions will stay viable for a long time," he said.

Another reader, Steve Wallace, called attention to the fact that just because no carrier has announced a date for the sunset, it doesn't mean it's not going to happen. He said the process has already begun and commented that companies not paying heed "may be looking at this wrong."

"For quite a while some carriers, such as AT&T, have stopped certifying new 2G devices," Wallace said. "Carriers have begun to re-purpose [refarm] the 2G spectrum into LTE offerings. 2G equipment is retiring and is being replaced for 4G. 3G expansion has virtually ceased."

The reality for alarm companies is that signal strength will decline for a lot of equipment in the field as these changes take hold.

"Alarm systems with 2G radios could become more problematic long before 'sunset' is announced," he said.

Like I mentioned last week, a sunset date by AT&T would likely knock a lot of people off the fence if they've been considering a move to 3G/4G. All is quiet at the moment, but it would be shortsighted to think it’s going to stay that way. Alarm companies would be wise to plan accordingly and keep a sharp eye on the horizon.

Interactive services provider gets $136m

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

First, Alarm.com recently announced a milestone—that it has more than 1 million subscribers. Now the 12-year-old Vienna, Va.-based provider of interactive security services has announced that it has $136 million in new funding, made by a leading provider of capital to growth-stage technology companies.

The company says the investment from Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) will enable Alarm.com to continue to develop new products.

Here’s more from the news release Alarm.com issued today:
 

The investment will allow Alarm.com to continue to focus on developing and delivering the most innovative products in the market. TCV General Partner Tim McAdam will join Alarm.com’s Board of Directors along with the existing investor ABS Capital Partners.

“Alarm.com is pleased to welcome TCV as a new partner in the business and we are thrilled to have Tim joining our Board of Directors”, said Steve Trundle, CEO of Alarm.com. “TCV’s well established track record of growth investments in software and technology companies will be a strategic asset for us. We look forward to continued focus on developing new and innovative products and growing our business.”
“Alarm.com’s best of breed software services and device management platform has established the company as the premier solution provider of interactive security services,” said TCV General Partner Tim McAdam. “We are excited to work with Alarm.com to continue its growth and build on its track record of innovation.”

Alarm.com, founded in 2000, is the industry leading technology provider of interactive security, automation and energy management solutions. Through its proven technology platform and advanced wireless, mobile and web-based solutions, Alarm.com helps protect and empower over a million residential and commercial customers throughout North America. Alarm.com delivers interactive security, video monitoring, home automation and energy management to users exclusively through a network of thousands of licensed and authorized Dealer Partners. For more information, visit the company's website at www.alarm.com.

I've reached out to the company to learn more about what this new capital will mean for Alarm.com and its dealer partners. Stay tuned to our site.

Prevent CO poisoning: Alarm companies should help Californians help themselves

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s now more than a year since California’s new law mandating carbon monoxide detectors in all single-family homes with an attached garage or fossil fuel source. However, a new survey shows many residents remain unprotected.

Seems to me there’s a marketing opportunity here that alarm companies would do well to take advantage of—to not only help themselves but also California residents.

It’s true that the new law, which took effect July 1, 2011, doesn’t require Californians to opt for monitored alarms instead of ones they can buy at the hardware store. But in a story I wrote last summer, John Hopper, president of the California Alarm Association, said he believes many residents will chose the monitored option as the safest.

“The state law has positioned us to perhaps increase revenues for the industry, from sales of the devices and associated monitoring,” he told me then.

A year later, perhaps this new survey will provide added impetus for residents and alarm companies.

Below is more from a recent news release on the survey, which was done on behalf of Kidde, a manufacturer of residential fire safety products, and the California Safe Homes Coalition. Kidde is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
 

While more than half of Californians are aware of a law requiring residential carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, many residents remain unprotected, according to a survey from independent research group, Qualtrics. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents do not have a CO alarm in their home despite the overwhelming presence of both fuel-burning appliances (84 percent) and attached garages (75 percent) – the state-determined criteria for installation and primary risk factors for accidental CO poisoning.
 
The results come on the eve of the law’s one-year anniversary on July 1. Nearly half of respondents without a CO alarm stated they know they need one, but haven’t found the time to install the life-saving device. Another one-third of respondents believe that they do not need an alarm even though it is the only safe way to detect CO, an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas.

“We are encouraged that many California residents have heard our message, understand the dangers of CO poisoning and have installed an alarm,” explained Kevin Nida, president, California State Firefighters’ Association (CSFA), a supporter of the California Safe Homes Coalition and co-sponsor of State Bill 183. “However, we urge those who have not yet acted to do so now. Carbon monoxide is perceived as an issue that only impacts cold-weather states, and that’s not a safe assumption. We’ve experienced the tragedy of CO poisonings here in California all too often.”
 
Called the ‘silent killer’ because many people do not realize they’re being poisoned until it’s too late, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It claims 400 lives and injures another 20,000 each year nationwide. California officials estimate CO poisoning causes 700 avoidable injuries and hospitalizations annually.
 
“I miss my sister every day. Unfortunately, no one in my family knew about CO poisoning until it was too late,” said Walnut, Calif. resident Ta Juan Campbell.  His sister, Tyra Lynn, died of accidental CO poisoning in her Beverly Hills apartment in 1998. Campbell founded the Tyra Lynn Foundation to raise awareness of CO poisoning.  “If you’ve put off installing a CO alarm, don’t wait. It could save your family.”
 
California’s law aims to protect families, while reducing the number of associated casualties.  A final phase requiring CO alarms in existing multi-family residential dwellings goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

 

Lights out for 2G? 'Sunset' debate heats up

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Still looking for clarity about the “2G sunset” and whether you’ll be left holding the bag if you don’t upgrade your cellular alarm communicators to 3G (or even 4G) right now?   

You’re not alone. The buzz continued last month at ESX, with manufacturers jockeying to try to sway alarm dealers. Telguard, the company sounding the loudest warning about the sunset, went one step further by announcing a program that gives dealers up to $25 for every 2G cell communicator they replace with a Telguard 3G/4G product. The company does not sell 2G.

“We estimate the industry has 3 million 2G radios that will have to be replaced in the next five years,” said Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telguard.

Unlike AMPS, the date for the 2G sunset will not be determined by the FCC; it will determined by cellular carriers based on capacity constraints and customer demand for 3G. Carriers have already begun reallocating frequency spectrum to accommodate 3G, Welsh said, cutting into the effectiveness of 2G equipment.

But not everyone believes the sky is falling when it comes to 2G, at least not in the next few years. Among those taking a different approach is Mike Boyle, general manager of Uplink. The company is continuing to offer 2G lines while rolling out 4G at the same time.

“People are still buying a lot of 2G products,” he said. “We think we may continue to sell 2G beyond the third quarter of this year. Everything we see in the network says it will be around.”

Uplink backs its business plan with the following assertions on its website:

—2G is a proven technology with falling price points as manufacturing costs decrease.
—No carrier has announced a sunset date for its 2G network.
—Uplink’s communicators operate with multiple carriers and will continue to provide nationwide coverage late into the decade or longer.

The company also offers a lifetime guarantee to replace its 2G products with 4G if the 2G units fail to operate due to a carrier technology change. Boyle said the approach covers all bases by recognizing the realities of the marketplace.

“Requests for 4G are minimal,” he said. “When a guy asks for 4G, we ship 4G. But our business is still 98 percent 2G.”

An industry source who spoke to Security Systems News on condition of anonymity said a sunset announcement from AT&T would be made “in the next few months,” which could knock a lot of people off the fence if they’ve been considering a move to 3G/4G. But longevity is key for alarm dealers, and if they can hang onto their 2G gear for another year or two (or four), many probably will.

It’s the nature of the beast.

San Fran PE firm buys big biometrics company

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cross Match Technologies, one of the largest providers of biometrics, has been acquired by PE firm Francisco Partners.

I spoke to David Buckley, when he was named CEO of Cross Match in March 2011.

At that time, he said his goal with the company was to “continue the evolution of the company from being just a technology player into providing a full set of solutions for the customer.”

Buckley is traveling until mid-August, but I’m hoping to speak to John Hinmon, who’s in charge of marketing and some M&A activity at the company.
I’ve left a couple of messages for Tom Ludwig COO at Francisco Partners, but haven’t heard back yet. The company web site says the group provides "transformational capital for technology companies."  

It has 55 portfolio companies I didn’t notice any other physical security companies when I glanced at their list of investments.  The FP statement notes the Cross Match has “secured significant contracts with the most discerning government clients.”  

Cross Match, which makes fingerprint, palm and full hand scanners, facial recognition, iris scanning, document readers and biometric software, has contracts with DoD and DHS among others. In the private sector side,  Cross Match works in hospitality, gaming and financial services. It has 400 employees, 5,000 customers worldwide and over 250,000 products deployed in over 80 countries

Founded in1996 and based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Cross Match also has offices in Washington D.C., Quebec and in Jena, Germany. It does cross-engineering with its office in Germany and has several partners it works with in Asia.

Terms of the deal were not released.

 

Don't email, call today

 - 
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wondering why Tess, Rich, Whit and I haven't returned your email today?

We can't.

Mail server has been down all day and is supposed to be down until tomorrow morning.

If you need to reach us, give us a call: 207-846-0600, Martha: ext. 261; Tess: ext. 232; Rich: ext. 254; Whit: ext. 227.

 

Get your new product listed in SSN's ASIS show products section

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manufacturers: Do you have a new product that you'll be introducing at ASIS this year? Would you like to have it appear in the September issue of Security Systems News in the ASIS show products section?

Just follow the simple instructions below, and get all the material to us before the August 10 deadline.

Is the August 10 deadline firm? Yes.

All companies exhibiting at the show can submit a product that is making its debut at ASIS 2012 in September. Companies that have more than one division may submit one product for each division.
>  
> To take advantage of this free editorial opportunity, please send an email with the following information in the body of the email to cdaggett@securitysystemsnews.com
>  
> 1. Company name (to be published)
> 2. New product name (to be published)
> 3. Description of new product (no longer than 75 words)
> 4. Photograph of your product, 300 dpi or better. This is optional.
> 5. Web site (to be published)
> 6. Company telephone number—only ONE please (to be published)
> 7. ASIS Booth number (essential; you must be exhibiting at ASIS)
> 8. Contact number at your company for follow up. (This will not be published and we’ll only contact you if we have questions or a problem.)
>  
> The firm deadline is August 10. Space in the print issue is limited, and products will be listed in the order in which we receive them so get your information in early.
>  
> Questions? Please contact Cath Daggett, advertising coordinator for SSN and SDN. Her number is 207-846-0600, ext. 300, and her email is cdaggett@securitysystemsnew.com.

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