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Luxurious partnership for Honeywell

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In this economic downturn, many security companies have bemoaned the fact that new housing starts are down. But Honeywell has formed a new partnership with Toll Brothers, a nationwide builder of luxury homes, that gives Honeywell an exclusive way to tap into the new construction market’s lucrative side.

Here’s more from the news release that Melville, N.Y.-based Honeywell issued today:

Honeywell has reached an exclusive agreement with Toll Brothers, America’s Luxury Homebuilder, to provide its broad portfolio of security technology for most of its newly constructed homes. Toll Brothers, currently building in 19 states, offers security systems in most of its new homes. The company will include Honeywell’s widely used VISTA alarm panels, and will offer its line of alarm radios and Total Connect 2.0 technology, which allows homeowners to remotely monitor and control their security systems with mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.

“Homeowners today want more than just a security system that is proven and reliable. They want options, security without phone lines or security with remote capabilities and integration. Honeywell is a good fit for us because it has been a mainstay in home security, so we know we’re offering a product that will be extremely reliable and will offer great value,” said Felicia Ratka, president of Westminster Security, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toll Brothers, Inc., that provides UL-listed central station monitoring to Toll Brothers’ home buyers across the country. “Honeywell also has great technology and services such as Total Connect, which provide much more than just security. That’s a key selling point for today’s home buyer.”

In recent years, Honeywell’s home security portfolio has focused on creating “the connected home.” Technologies such as VISTA and Total Connect have been designed to keep people connected with their homes at all times. For example, homeowners can control and manage their security systems through web-enabled devices, and alarm panels can be integrated with other home systems such as air conditioning and lighting, which can contribute to energy savings. This is illustrated through capabilities such as alarm systems being able to set back thermostats, which will help to further enhance Toll Brothers’ continuing commitment to green initiatives.

“A new Honeywell security system is the first step toward a truly connected home,” said Bob Shipman, director of sales, Eastern Region, for Honeywell Security & Communications. “When thinking about a home security system, the question to ask is, ‘What would you want your home to tell you if it could talk?’ That’s the main driver behind Honeywell’s security technology, and Toll Brothers shares that vision for its customers.”


Tribute to John Mabry

Monday, November 28, 2011

I wrote last week about the loss of industry icon, John Mabry, 74, who died Nov. 18 in a car crash.

I recently received a copy of his moving obituary, which recounts many of his numerous accomplishments, and also describes Mabry, a Florida resident, as “ a lovable curmudgeon” who will be “long remembered for his outgoing personality, wry wit, high integrity, patriotism and strong dedication to family and friends.”

The obit also recounts some of his trademark saying, known as “Mabryisms,” including “The slow buffalo drinks dirty water” and “It’s like spitballs against a battleship baby!”

Here is more from the summary of the life and career of this remarkable industry leader:

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., John joined the U.S. Navy where he served aboard the USS Ranger, CV-61, as a commissioned officer. While stationed in San Francisco, he met his future wife, Sue Dougherty, about whom John commented, “…I found my heart in San Francisco.”

Upon leaving the U.S. Navy in 1962, John launched a groundbreaking car wash franchise that eventually sold for over 1,000 times his original investment. In 1969, John founded the American Alarm Company that he sold to Honeywell, Inc. in 1983 …

From 1983 until 1993, John served as Vice President of Honeywell’s Protection Services Division and later Vice President of Sales and Business Development within Honeywell’s $3.4 billion Home and Building Control business unit. John was instrumental in advancing Honeywell’s expansion strategies that placed Honeywell in the forefront of the North American security market.

John served as president of Security Network of America (SNA) from 1993 through 2000 where he increased SNA membership from 20 to more than 40 UL listed entities, nationwide. Today, SNA has more than 82 member companies in North America representing more than $390 million annual revenue.

In 2003, John joined the board of directors of Integrated Alarm Services Group (NASD: IASG), Albany, NY. John was elected chairman of the board in 2006 with a mandate to restructure corporate management. As chairman, John was instrumental in replacing management, aligning priorities and resolving multiple financial issues resulting in a substantial increase of IASG’s share value. Later, John presided over the successful sale of IASG, valued at $140 million, to Protection One in 2007.

Throughout his career, John sought to bring cohesion to the security alarm industry. In 1972, John was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA).  Later, John was elected CSAA president from 1981 through 1983.  Afterwards, John continued as an Honorary and ex officio Member of the CSAA Board.  Similarly, as a member of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (Now Electronic Security Association), John’s, peers named him to the NBFAA’s Board of Directors. Recognizing John’s vision and leadership, John became President of the NBFAA serving from 1984 through 1986.  As President, John founded the NBFAA’s National Training School and grew membership to nearly 3,000 members.

Recognizing his many contributions to the alarm industry, John received the Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award in 1983. The award acknowledged John’s leadership, outstanding achievements and his continued efforts on behalf of the alarm industry and the Electronic Security Association.

John received further recognition in 2004 when the Central Station Alarm Association presented the Stanley C. Lott Award to John. The Lott award is the CSAA’s most prestigious recognition of leadership and honored John’s exceptional contributions to and tireless support of the CSAA and its membership.

John actively served on several alarm company boards, including ADS Security, Nashville, TN; for 14 years; American Alarm and Communications, Arlington, MA for more than 10 years; and, the Board of Protectron, Inc., Montréal, Québec, Canada …

The obit says Mabry is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, four children and 13 grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are preferred to either of the following:

The Wounded Warrior Project
4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300
Jacksonville, FL  32256

The Tim Tebow Foundation
2220 County Road 210 West, Suite 108
Jacksonville, FL  32259


Yet another telecom enters security space!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whew! It just doesn't stop. First, there was the news in October that Verizon had launched to its broadband customers nationwide the home security product it had debuted in January at the Consumer Electronics show.

Then I just wrote about Time Warner Cable and Frontier Communications now joining other cableco and telecom companies in launching home security/home automation offerings.

And now AT&T has entered the security space, according to a recent report of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Here’s what that publication had to say:

AT&T plans to launch a new division focusing on connected digital services, as it seeks to diversify revenue streams.

The unit is called Digital Life Services, a company spokeswoman said, declining to offer details on employment.

The division will focus on services such as home security, home monitoring, home automation and control, home healthcare and personal energy management, according to a description on AT&T Careers website.

AT&T is looking to hire sales, marketing and IT professionals to support that division, according to the website.

I’ll be writing more as I learn more—and exploring what this new competition means for the industry.


Select Security lifesaver for nonprofit that helps disaster victims

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This Thursday, on Thanksgiving Day, Tad Agoglia, founder of First Response Team of America—a nonprofit that uses specialized equipment to do rescue and recovery work around the nation for victims of such disasters as the deadly tornado that hit Joplin, Mo. in May—will be honored in a special television program called CNN Heroes. Agoglia’s organization also was the winner of a Special Community Service Award at the Honeywell First Alert Professional 2011 Convention, held earlier this month in Scottsdale.

But Agoglia credits Patrick Egan, founder and president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Select Security, with helping to make the work he does possible.

That’s because when Agoglia relocated his organization to Lancaster about 15 months ago—attracted by the hiring opportunities in the agricultural community of a workforce skilled in operating heavy machinery—Egan stepped up and volunteered to provide First Response with 10,000 square feet of warehouse space, for free.

The clean, heated, well-lighted space now provides a home for the tractor trailers and other heavy equipment that First Response, which Agoglia said is supported by companies such as Caterpillar Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Co., needs to mobilize at a moment’s notice to race to the next disaster anywhere nationwide.

Agoglia said others in the Lancaster community responded to an ad he placed seeking donated space as a home for First Response with offers of rental opportunities. But Egan understood the organization needed a donation, Agoglia said.

 “The donation came with no strings attached,” Agoglia told me. He said that’s actually a rare occurrence in charity work.

He said Egan told him he was donating use of the space—for which Egan could have gotten $10,000 a month in rent—because he felt that as a security provider, Select Security shared similar “core values” with First Response of helping people.

When I asked Egan about the donation, he brushed aside any praise. “It’s worth it,” he said.

Industry icon dies in vehicle collision

Monday, November 21, 2011

I came to work this morning to a report of some sad news: John Mabry, a director and past president of the Central Station Alarm Association, died Friday, Nov. 18, in a car crash.

Mel Mahler of ADS Security, another CSAA past president and director, shared this message with Security Systems News:

“It is with deep regret and profound sadness that I share the passing of John W. Mabry.
While en route to visit his daughter yesterday afternoon, John was involved in a fatal head-on collision, according to the chief deputy of the Dublin, Ga. sheriff’s department. John was alone at the time of the accident.”
Here’s a synopsis from First Florida Capital Corporation, of which Mabry, a Florida resident, is listed as an affiliate partner, of some of his accomplishments in the industry.

“John W. Mabry, Jr. is past President of Security Network of America. Founded and built the American Alarm Company.  In 1983, Honeywell Inc. purchased American Alarm … John served as Vice President of Honeywell's Protection Services Division and later Vice President of the $3.4B Home and Building Control business unit … John serves on several alarm monitoring company boards, is past President of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and founded the NBFAA's National Training School. John is a director and past President of the Central Station Alarm Association.”

I'll continue to report on this story as we learn more.

Security Networks makes more tracks with footprint

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I wrote this spring about Florida-based super-regional Security Networks as it expanded operations west of the Mississippi after being acquired last fall by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.

Now, the company, headquartered in West Palm Beach, is growing its footprint once again—into Puerto Rico, partnering with Alarm Zone, which does business as Island Security. Here’s more from a recent press release:

With this partnership Island Security will market and install Security Networks products and services while Security Networks will assume the monitoring and warranty service on the accounts.  Island Security will receive Security Networks exclusive sales and marketing support, fast track funding services, and will participate in the company’s affiliate lead generation program.

“We researched several traditional dealer programs and chose Security Networks because of their commitment to grow as a partnership.  Security Networks is a company that shares our beliefs and values and by affiliating with them, we will be able to deliver the best solutions to our customers,” said Waldemar Vazquez, President of Island Security.

"The joint venture with Island Security is part of our overall aggressive sales and marketing plans and is in line with our strategy for the development of a strong affiliate sales program. We are proud to have them representing our company and our services as a member of the Security Networks team.” said Gary Franklyn, Security Networks’ Vice President of Business Development.


Razberi redux: Tom Galvin launches new company

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GVI Security, which went out of business last summer, after parting ways about one year ago with its longtime partner Samsung , had an NVR product called razberi, which has been resurrected by Tom Galvin who has started a new   company called Razberi Technologies.  

Galvin, who invented the razberi NVR, bought back the razberi technology and intellectual property and plans to bring an enhanced version and new product line into production.  

Galvin used to be the head of R& D at Verint. He also worked at GE as head of video development. He became GVI’s head of product management, after GVI Security purchased Galvin’s company, PacketNVR, a couple years back

Galvin’s new company, Razberi Technologies, is located in Carrollton, Texas. It’s privately held and its lead investor is Dynacolor, Inc., a manufacture of video surveillance products.

From the release: “The idea of combining a network video recorder, a PoE switch, storage, and video management software into one easy to use and install appliance got a lot of industry attention. By combining these functions into one device, the installer saves a tremendous amount of time selecting and installing an IP based system. The risk of purchasing a component that can’t support the demands of a megapixel environment is eliminated.”

The company plans to launch an “enhanced line of razberi recorders, and IP cameras. Shipment from new production will begin in the next few weeks, and orders are currently being accepted. The company will provide Help desk support for its new products, as well as the legacy razberi recorders and autoIP cameras sold by GVI,” according to the release.

I have an interview with Galvin tomorrow, so will have more information about the new company soon.

'Exploring new dimensions' at FAP convention

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Veterans Day, the floods in Thailand and the "cookie ladies" were all part of the conversation at the opening session Friday at Honeywell's First Alert Professional Convention 2011 that I attended in Scottsdale, Ariz. Nov. 10-12.

Friday was Veterans Day and JoAnna Sohovich, Honeywell Security & Communications president, started the general session off by thanking those who have served this country in the armed services. Later in the program, Sohovich, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. who served as a naval officer, also was personally recognized for her service.

Sohovich, who also is president of the First Alert Professional program, referred back to her speech of last year, in which she talked about how to access "the Nevers," a whole segment of consumers who may not be interested in burglar alarms but do want other home automation features for their homes. "They value lifestyle more than safety and security," she said of those potential customers.

And Sohovich also spoke of one of Honeywell’s latest products: the new 6280i Tuxedo Touch touchscreen, which the company describes as "a device that allows homeowners to manage safety as well as energy costs by controlling window shades, locks, lighting, thermostats and security." Sohovich said the Tuxedo Touch, which has easy-to-use features such as large icons, would be launched very soon.

The theme of this year's convention was "Exploring New Dimensions," but Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell Systems Group, said that while introducing the latest technology, Honeywell is focused on "bringing simple back."

He said, "I like to talk about big sexy systems, but the small systems are really what drives our industry." Honeywell’s goal, he said, is to "create solutions that are easy to sell, design, install and service."

He also warned about the consequences for the industry of the floods in Thailand, where the world’s hard drives are manufactured. He said the disaster there would lead to a shortage and increased prices. But he assured dealers that Honeywell is monitoring the situation and "we’re looking for other solutions and looking for hard drives everywhere."

Harkins also mentioned the "cookie ladies" at the Products & Services Showcase on Thursday night—attractive young women who were literally walking dessert trays. They stood in the middle of round, wheeled dessert carts heaped with cookies, which rolled as they walked.

Harkins joked that the ladies proved so popular that Honeywell sales staff from now on would be required to make their pitches in the middle of such carts.

The "cookie ladies" also won a mention from Dan Clark, keynote speaker at the event. Clark, an internationally recognized motivational speaker who overcame a paralyzing football injury, joked that when he walked into the hall where the technology showcase was held, "my first impression was of a walking table."

But he said that he was impressed that even though the show featured technology, the primary "focus was still about people."

And of course the First Alert convention always includes lots of educational sessions.

On Friday, I attended one called "Good to Great! Prepare for Company Growth!" The speaker was John Jennings, president of Safeguard Security of Arizona, who talked about taking his company though economic hard times.

Among highlights of the packed double session was Jennings challenging business owners to "confront the brutal fact"” about their companies' weaknesses and to address them, even if meant firing employees who were had been there a long time but were impeding company growth. Jennings joked that his seminar is dubbed "the widow maker" because it can inspire attendees to go back and clean house.

But Jennings also urged business leaders to listen to and empower the staff they value down to the lowest-paid member. "Good decisions require the infusion of an honest confrontation of the brutal facts," he said. "Create a culture where people have an opportunity to be heard and the truth to be heard."

On the last day of the convention, Saturday, I attended a session on how dealers can get the most out of the First Alert's Dealer Development Group. There was testimony from company owners throughout the conference about how much the DDG had helped their businesses.

One key assist is networking. At the seminar, for example, one company owner asked for help integrating his billing with accounting software. Several company owners raised their hands to tell him they had successfully done that at their companies and Patrick Egan, president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Select Security, promised to sit down with the owner after the session and share information.

‘Cookie ladies’ sweeten products showcase

Friday, November 11, 2011

The first night at Honeywell’s First Alert Professional annual convention is traditionally an opening reception with a buffet and casual social networking time.

Well, last night at the start of the 2011 convention that I'm attending here in Scottsdale, Ariz. there was something a little different. After the buffet in a ballroom at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa—food with a Tex-Mex theme, yum!—everyone wandered over to the nearby hall where Honeywell for the first time decided to put on an after-hours Products & Services Showcase. And the showcase was enhanced by the amazing “cookie ladies.”

Convention attendees—I’m told there are about 700 this year—strolled around watching demonstrations of the latest technology and talking to vendors while sipping wine, beer and other drinks from a bar and also enjoying desserts—some of the most luscious of which were served by two beautiful young women who were literally walking dessert trays.

Dressed in bright red off-the-shoulder dresses, the two looked like Flamenco dancers from the waist up. But their bodies rose out of the middle of round dessert carts that obscured the lower half of their bodies. The round, wheeled carts were skirted with red material so looked like the women’s hoop skirts. The carts rolled along as the women walked, stopping here and there to let people help themselves to the powdered-sugar-drenched cookies spread out on the carts.

The young women were charming and gracious (one posed for a picture with me—the sight has to be seen to be believed—and I’ll get that up on this site as soon as the photographer emails it to me) and convention-goers told me they enjoyed the unique method of serving up something sweet.

One was John Loud, owner of Loud Security Systems and president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association. “In any business, you try to do something different to bring some value in,”he observed to me.

He and others said they appreciated the extended showcase hours to learn about products and services. “You get to spend more time with the vendors,” Loud said. There also was plenty of opportunity to network with others. “It’s a nice social environment,” Loud said.

At the showcase, I got a chance to see for myself something I just blogged about recently: a new system designed to alert homeowners if their windows are unlocked. It was developed by Honeywell and Andersen Corp., of window fame. John Kovach, Honeywell’s global director of marketing for sensor products, showed me how it works on a window, protecting homes from burglars and also winter drafts.

He also showed me Honeywell’s new 5816OD Wireless Outdoor Contact, which the company says “is the only wireless magnetic contact designed for harsh outdoor environments.” Used with a 5800 Series wireless sensor, it can protect outdoor things like detached garages, barns and other areas too costly to protect with a wired solution. “There’s nothing like this in the industry,” Kovach told me.

Stephen Wheeler, president of Holmes Security Systems, told Kovach he’s trying out the product. Holmes, a Fayetteville, N.C-company founded in 1908, has had four generations of the Wheeler family working for it, Wheeler told me. He said the company has been a First Alert dealer for at least a dozen years. That’s one of the things that stands out for me about this convention—how many Mom-and Pop companies are a part of the First Alert Professional program.

Bold: DICE filed ‘under-handed’ lawsuit because it’s ‘unable to compete’

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Security Systems News has been writing for a few months about a lawsuit filed by central station automation platform provider DICE Corp. against its competitor Bold Technologies. Michigan-based DICE filed suit against Bold in federal court in August, alleging that Bold unlawfully accessed DICE’s proprietary software with the aid of Amy Condon, a former DICE employee hired by Bold.

In a recent story, I wrote about how the legal dispute ratcheted up in October when DICE filed three additional allegations against Bold in federal court, accusing Bold of copyright infringement and violation of two federal laws.

Now Bold, in a response filed in court this month, not only denies those claims and asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, but levels its own charges against DICE. Bold contends in its Nov. 1 filing that “unable to compete with [Bold] in the marketplace, and in a misguided attempt to level the playing field,” DICE “has launched a baseless lawsuit against Bold.”

Also, Bold president Rod Coles is speaking out to publicly to address DICE’s claims and defend itself. Here’s what Coles had to say in a letter posted on the company’s website:

“I have had so many calls of support from customers, vendors and industry colleagues that I felt that it was necessary for Bold to respond to the allegations leveled against it by the Dice Corporation in the recent lawsuit.

Firstly, Bold Technologies Ltd. has built its business for over 30 years, upon a reputation of providing innovative and leading edge products, combined with the best service in the industry. The way we conduct business, our ethics as a company and as individual employees, is paramount. Indeed our mission statement reflects this very belief:

The Mission of Bold Technologies is to partner with our customers to enable them to control, grow, and differentiate their businesses by providing them with products and services, guided by these four prevailing principles:

1.    Provide innovative, future proof, high value solutions that address customer driven needs.

2.    Foster long-term relationships by making every interaction centered on quality.

3.    Maintain the highest ethical standards. Always.

4.    Give back by contributing to both our business and local communities.

Having conducted a detailed internal review of our processes and talked in depth with our staff Bold Technologies Ltd is 100% confident that the charges leveled against it are completely false.  I would like to also add that Amy Condon is an employee of the highest ethics and a consummate professional, and that the allegations leveled at her are also completely false.

In the last seven years, Bold Technologies has become the dominant force in central station automation software, with 50 to 80 new customers per year switching to Manitou from existing platforms.  Bold has attracted new customers and customers from other automation providers, and as a result, we have had to become very good at data conversion, with three full time employees converting and reviewing data from competitors’ systems. Becoming good at something, however, doesn’t involve taking code from legacy software or doing anything illegal – that accusation simply displays a lack of knowledge in the actual process of moving customers to a particular platform. In the case of the Dice Corporation, nineteen of their customers have moved or are in the process of moving to Manitou. In an industry such as ours with a small pool of customers this is a significant blow. The foundation of the law suit is baseless and seems solely driven to slow down the migration of customers away from the Dice platform. It’s an under-handed tactic with no truth to it, and we will treat it through the legal system as such.

We will continue to defend our reputation and to provide the best possible software and service to the industry. Bold values a marketplace where companies raise their standards to compete and produce better and better solutions. It makes us stronger, and most importantly, brings enhanced alternatives to the customers in the industry.  We don’t intend to continue a war of public opinion but hope our 30-year reputation will stand for itself as we work hard to produce the highest standards of product, service and competition.
Rod Coles, President”