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McGinn and Smith, charged with fraud, seek new investors

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hmm. It’s interesting to see that David L. Smith and Timothy M. McGinn, two security alarm industry investors who made headlines this spring after the SEC charged them with bilking investors in a Ponzi scheme, are back in the news--with a new investment venture.

Smith and McGinn have started a new investment company and have been trying to raise more than $500,000 to loan a small Georgia-based alarm company $425,000 at an annual interest rate of 19.62 percent, according to the Times Union, a newspaper in Albany, N.Y.

This time, the newspaper says in a story this week, Smith’s and McGinn’s former administrative assistant owns the new business, Security Alarm Credit, and is running it out of her house in East Greenbush, N.Y. Smith and McGinn are just her employees--and executive vice presidents, the newspaper says.

(Below is a photograph from the Albany Times Union of the East Greenbush, N.Y. home which serves as the headquarters of the new Security Alarm Credit business.)

Security Alarm Credit is being run out of this Greenbush, N.Y. home.Longtime partners Smith and McGinn were the principals of McGinn, Smith & Co., an Albany-based investment firm that conducted investment dealings in the alarm industry. The company is now in receivership after the SEC in April seized Smith’s and McGinn’s business and personal assets and accused the pair and their company of defrauding investors of at least $80 million. Places the money went included the pair’s own pockets and to pay for exotic dancers on McGinn’s You Only Live Once cruise ship business, the SEC said.  The court case is pending.

I’m trying to get hold of McGinn, Smith and their attorneys, as well as the SEC and others involved in the story to learn more.

McGinn invoked his civil rights in an interview with the Times Union about the new business venture. “My partner David Smith and I are not enjoined from earning a living and this is the United States of America,” McGinn reportedly told the paper.

 

 

Crime ring at ASIS, busted by Milestone

 - 
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jeez, you'd think all those cameras and the fact that it's a security show would dissuade would-be theives, but no. Milestone put out a press release this morning about thieves nabbed at ASIS.

When a laptop was stolen at the MoogQuickset booth during the show (Oct. 12-15), Moog employees asked those at the neighboring Milestone booth if they'd noticed anything missing. No, but they did happen to have footage of what went on after hours on the ASIS show floor that showed members of the cleaning crew picking up the laptop. Turns out they'd picked up a few more items as well, and when confronted by the video, one of the cleaning crew turned in items stolen from a previous trade show. These guys really cleaned up at trade shows. 

Click here to read the press release, and make sure to scroll down to see the video.

Roll the credits: MIlestone's XProtect VMS, and Axis camera, and featuring a synopsis by BriefCam.

This is the second time I've blogged about an attempted heist on a trade show floor. The first time was  at ISC West in 2008. Here's a link to that blog and accompanying camera shots. That time it was a cleaning crew guy who swipped a cellphone from a Intelliview Technologies booth while the camera caught his every move.

Crime ring at ASIS, busted by Milestone

 - 
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jeez, you'd think all those cameras and the fact that it's a security show would dissuade would-be theives, but no. Milestone put out a press release this morning about thieves nabbed at ASIS.

When a laptop was stolen at the MoogQuickset booth during the show (Oct. 12-15), Moog employees asked those at the neighboring Milestone booth if they'd noticed anything missing. No, but they did happen to have footage of what went on after hours on the ASIS show floor that showed members of the cleaning crew picking up the laptop. Turns out they'd picked up a few more items as well, and when confronted by the video, one of the cleaning crew turned in items stolen from a previous trade show. These guys really cleaned up at trade shows. 

Click here to read the press release, and make sure to scroll down to see the video.

Roll the credits: MIlestone's XProtect VMS, and Axis camera, and featuring a synopsis by BriefCam.

This is the second time I've blogged about an attempted heist on a trade show floor. The first time was  at ISC West in 2008. Here's a link to that blog and accompanying camera shots. That time it was a cleaning crew guy who swipped a cellphone from a Intelliview Technologies booth while the camera caught his every move.

Who's donating to SIAC and how much are they donating?

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Monday, October 25, 2010

There's lots of debate currently about the effects of the Supreme Court decision to allow businesses to make anonymous donations to political campaigns. The question: Is transparency good or not?

In the security industry, one advocacy group obviously believes it's important to let everyon know who's supporting its  (SIAC's) efforts. SIAC encourages donors to display its logos on their marketing material and web sites. They are  letting everyone know who's giving and how much.

The Security Industry Alarm Coalition's mission is to help reducing false alarms and establishing relationships between law enforcment and the alarm industry.

Here's the latest list of SIAC's donors and their donation amounts.

The largest donors at $150,000 + were: ADT Security Systems, Inc.; Honeywell Security Group; and SIA - Security Industry Association.

In the "Ruby" category with gifts of $50,000 + were:

Broadview (now ADT) *

Digital Security Controls

UTC (formerlyGE)

In the "Emerald category" with donations of  $10,000 + were:

APX Alarm

Bay Alarm Company

Bosch Security Systems

Defender Direct, Inc.

Digital Monitoring Products

Guardian Protective Services

Tri-Ed Distribution

Sapphire $2,500 +

NAPCO Security Systems, Inc

Alarm Security Group LLC (ASG)

Altronix Corporation

COPS Monitoring

Diebold

Emergency 24, Inc.

Leo Guthart

Ohio Burglar & Fire Alarm Assn

RSI Videofied

Safeguard Security & Communications

Security Network of America, Inc.

Stanley Convergent Security Solutions

Vector Security, Inc.

United Central Control, Inc.

Wayne Alarm Systems

Electronix Systems

Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Assn

Valued Contributors

A-COM (United Monitoring Services)

ADS Security

Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.

Alert Holdings Group, Inc.

DGA Security Systems, Inc.

Lowitt Alarms & Security

Reliance Protectron Security Services

Security Equipment Inc

SentryNet

Doyle Security Systems

IQ Certification

Alarme Sentinelle / Sentinel Alarm

DMC Security Services, Inc.

Alabama Alarm Assn

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Canadian Security Association

Colorado Alarm Assn

ESC Central

John Pastore - Crime Prevention Security

Kentucky Burglar & Fire Assn

New Mexico BFAA

Safe Systems, Inc.

Southern California Security Assn

Tennessee BFAA

Texana Security

Thul Alarm, Inc.

Utah Alarm Association

Visonic

Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Assn.

Wisconsin Burglar & Fire Alarm Assn

American Alarm & Communications, Inc.

Arizona Alarm Association

CASIA - Connecticut Alarm Assn

Illinois Electronic Security Assn

Louisiana Life Safety & Security Assn

Peak Alarm

Western New York Alarm Assn

Bonds Alarm Company

Commercial Instr & Alarm Sys.

Minnesota Electronic Security & Tech Assn

Loss Prevention Services Inc.

Custom Alarm

ITZ Solutions - Dale Eller

James Zirbel

William "Bill" Cooper

David Green

David Hood

Deep Valley Security

ESA - Dues Invoice Program

Frank Ryan

G Levinson

Mellon Security & Solutions

New Jersey BFAA

Sacramento Alarm Assn

CSAA - Central Station Alarm Association

ESA - Electronic Security Association

Washington Alarm, Inc.

 

 

Pinnacle formalizes charitable efforts

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hi, this is Tess Nacelewicz, still hiding behind Martha Entwistle’s photo, but you should be able to see the real me very soon.

I've been doing some research on summer-model companies, and it seems like a lot of the news coverage has to do with problems with their sales reps. Many of the companies have made strides in addressing the problems associated with door-to-door contract employees.

Yesterday I spoke to Pinnacle Security's COO Steve Hafen, and in addition to filling me in on the range of quality control measures the company's put into place in the last 18 months, he told me about something new--a company-wide charitable initiative.

Hafen said the philanthropic initiative, called Pinnacle: Securing Hope, is just an extension of the company's mission of helping people. “It made sense as an organization and fit very nicely with our mission, which is to protect the things that matter most to people and to extend that to helping people who are in need,” Hafen said this week as the company announced the launch of the initiative.

Pinnacle’s efforts include raising funds to help the continued recovery of victims of the earthquake in Haiti, through such means as sponsorships and a 5K race near company headquarters on Nov. 6. Volunteers from Pinnacle also are planning to go down to places such as Haiti, Honduras and Mexico during the Christmas break to provide hands-on help to needy communities, Hafen said.

The company also is planning other efforts in its home state, such as an upcoming food drive for the holiday season and a planned scholarship program in conjunction with a local university.

The nine-year-old company has more than 2,000 employees, many of whom were already doing charitable work as teams or individuals, so the company decided to get behind its employees’ efforts and formalize them, Hafen said.

“The whole idea is to provide a framework around all the different things that already have been going on for many of our employees, and also as an organization sponsor and get behind and support some even broader initiatives that we think will be very beneficial to some of the communities out there in need,” Hafen said.

Also, he said, the company is doing well and simply wants to give back to others. “We’re really excited about this and it’s something the whole company is getting behind,” he said.

 

Platinum Protection refinances

 - 
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just saw this morning that Platinum Protection has refinanced. Their announcement  called it a "significant round of debt financing," but did not divulge the amount.

I have calls into Platinum, but it's still early in Utah, where they are based. I expect to hear from them later today.

I did speak to Bill Dyer of Boathouse Capital just now, Boathouse led the deal. They're a new fund, created by four former partners at Bethesda, Md.-based American Capital. The four, Dyer, (no relation to Platinum founder Dan Dyer), Ken Jones, Chong Moua and Steven Gord, worked at the publicly traded $12 billion mezzanine debt and PE firm for eight years before their branch was closed due to downsizing in May of 2008.

They decided to launch Boathouse Capital and went out and raised their own funds. They're an SBIC fund, which means they're backed by the federal government's Small Business Administration, and will use the money to invest in small businesses, Dyer told me. They're currently a $104 million fund. Boathouse raised $35 million on its own and the Small Business Administration matched their funds 2-1 with a $70 million in debt funding.

This is their first investment in the security industry and their fourth investment overall.

Here's the release Platinum put out.

Platinum was in the news this summer when it held a public auction to sell a 17-percent of the company.   Originally founded by seven summer sales reps, the company experienced rapid growth in its first couple of years.

Petrow appointed new Vector president/CEO

 - 
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Vector president and CEO Pam PetrowI just got the release from Vector, which last week lost its long-time and much loved and lauded president John Murphy. Vector announced Oct. 19 that its board had appointed Pam Petrow, former EVP and COO of the company as the new president and CEO.

A release from Vector states that Murphy selected Petrow before his death and that her taking over is part of a carefully laid plan for the direction of one of the largest full-service alarm companies in the U.S. “The current appointment is the culmination of a carefully thought out succession plan for Vector Security,” the release reads. “Petrow will now be in charge of moving the company forward on the successful path which Mr. Murphy began when he became President and COO of Vector Security, Inc. in 1991.”

I have calls out to Vector to try and track Pam down and get some commentary from her on her plans for helming Vector into the future.

Congratulations to Pam.

I first met Pam at the 2008 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar in beautiful Peabody, Mass. (I used to live next door in Salem). I was immediately impressed with Pam's passion, pressence, professionalism and poise. I spoke with Pam again on various occasions in relation to her various roles at CSAA and Vector and in working out a computer-aided-dispatch protocol that has since become a new national standard. Pam won an award for her tremendous efforts on that project.

I'm looking forward to speeking with Pam again and getting some input from her on her new role.

Still time to register for the next two CSAA webinars!

 - 
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CSAA's holding a couple webinars over the next few days. I've attended them in the past and written about them. They've been time well-spent.

The first one is today and is on social media, which many have been discovering is a useful business tool. Today's webinar focuses on Twitter and LinkedIn, both used by yours truly daily for discussions of best practices, story leads, promotion of content, etc., etc.

The last one on social media was very informative and well-attended. I wrote about it here.

If you're interested in attending, you can register here.

Here's some  more info on today's webinar from CSAA:

"Attend the Next CSAA Social Media Webinar on LinkedIn and Twitter for Business 201 Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 3:00pm ET:

Speakers: Brandon Lilly, Bold Technologies and Kristen Plante, Alarm.com

A CSAA Signature Series Webinar:

Gain a deeper knowledge on how to use LinkedIn and Twitter for your business."

The next webinar is next week and follows up on the very first free webinar CSAA conducted. It will again be led by Attrition Busters president Bob Harris. Avid readers of mine will recall the times in the past I've speculated on Bob's potential connection to the A-Team...

I also attended Bob's debut as a webinar moderator for the CSAA. That was a good one, too.

Here's some info on Bob's webinar:

"Attend the Next CSAA Webinar 'From Satisfied to Delighted' Raising the Bar on Customer Loyalty' Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 2:00pm ET:

Speaker: Bob Harris, President Attrition Busters

A CSAA Signature Series Webinar:

From Satisfied to Delighted: Raising the Bar on Customer Loyalty

An energetic and interactive seminar conveying some fundamental tools which will empower employees and managers to raise the bar in terms of perceived “added value” in doing business with your company as opposed to your competitors."

Interested attendees can register here.

 

IP camera transmits images from Chilean miner rescue

 - 
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I got an interesting email this morning from VIVOTEK, manufacturers of IP cameras—who were at our TechSec Solutions Conference last year—that I thought you might be interested in, especially if you followed the recent rescue of the Chilean miners.

Seems it was a VIVOTEK fixed dome network camera that was attached to the rescue capsule. The camera helped the rescuers aboveground see what was going on around the capsule as they manuevered the capsule to rescue the miners.

Here's a link to their press release, where you can find more links to video clips. The cllips are interesting, though those of you in TVLand have probably seen them over and over already. I hadn't, due to the fact that we don't have a TV at home, [according to my teenagers, we're the only ones in America] so I only read about these things until someone actually sends me a link to a video clip. 

And here's a statement from VIVOTEK:

People around the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the news that the rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean mine workers has been a complete success. The greatest share of the accolades must, of course, go to the courageous miners and their anxious families, as well as the ingenuity of the engineers who quickly designed and built the transport capsule used to extract the workers from deep underground. However, it is also worth noting that VIVOTEK played an important role in this dramatic operation. By affixing an FD8134 fixed dome network camera to the rescue capsule, this integral piece of equipment was able to provide operators working at a ground level with a clear, real-time view of the conditions in and around the capsule as it made its descent to retrieve each miner and subsequently return to the surface. With its superb HD video quality and compact size, the FD8134 was the perfect choice, and the successful rescue and camera feed was broadcast in media around the world, including BBC and CNN. VIVOTEK is proud to have done its part to bring this amazing rescue effort to a happy conclusion and wish all of the miners best of luck.

Talking IP solutions and POTS problems

 - 
Monday, October 18, 2010

I noticed an ACCENT discussion string talking about "POTS trainsmission issues" going on lately and, of course it caught my attention.

The discussion started when Matt Bergeron over at NEXgeneration Central asked if anyone else out there in ACCENT land had been having problems with their POTS service. I spoke with Matt a while back about their sudden and successful growth this past year. Many people chimed in on the POTS transmission string and the discussion began to examin VoIP issues with alarm communicaitons.

Morgan Hertel at Mace CSSS said that he believed that bad POTS transmissions were a sign of the times as service providers attempted to save money which meant routing calls (including alarm signals) through--or at least partly through--VoIP channels.

"The industry in my opinion is not taking this seriously both with  working with carriers to provide a transition plan but also to  start educating the dealer trades with the bad news that what they have been using for the last 25 years is suddenly going to be changing," Hertel said. "I speak with central stations all the time and just about everyone I talk to is going through the same stuff all the time and as an industry we need to have a unified message to the dealers and installers so they can start the transition and training, otherwise if you all think the AMPS sunset was a challenge this is going to melt us down."

Of course, I've done a lot of writing about POTS and VoIP... Actually the last comment is from Stephen Kovacsiss from Bosch security. He wanted to let everyone know about a free VoIP solution Bosch has.

"We have found that many are not aware of the latest update to the Bosch D6600/D6100i receivers in response to VoIP/GSM issues, so we would like to make sure that you know that Bosch has made significant advancements in dealing with VoIP when using Contact ID, 4-1 Express, and 4-2 Express formats.  Using patent pending digital signal processing, Bosch receivers can now interpret signals that would previously have been dismissed because they did not meet the formatting requirements of the communications protocol. This new processing performs additional analysis on alarm signals that allows the receiver to decode signals that have been modified by VoIP or digital phone networks.  Our testing has shown error reductions of up to 76% in known problem sites," Stephen said. "These updates are available at no charge for all users of our D6600 (with D6641 line cards) and D6100i Central Station Receivers in Version 1.35 of our D6200 central station receiver software on the Bosch web site.  Click on the following link to be directed to the download site, or paste it into your browser."

Avid readers of mine will recall I did a story about this a few months back.

I also did a story on a new company out of Sugarland, Texas called ipDatatel that claims to defeat the IP communications problems.

Matt over at NEXgeneration said something that stuck with me as well, since it's something I've been speculating about for a while:

"We need to do all wireless radio solutions and divorce ourselves from the phone carriers totally!!!"

I've been wondering when someone in the industry is going to create a communications backbone owned by the industry--by a communications association, say--that serves the industry reliably like POTS did. Is such an undertaking possible? Or worthwhile?

While they get in on the ACCENT discussion, I also had contact recently with World Wide security, a New York-based full service alarm company with their own central station, Vision Monitoring Services. They had a thing or two to say about POTS transmission problems and VoIP issues as well.

“With copper lines, your voice is your voice," said World Wide operations and technical services manager Christopher Edgar. "With VoIP, your voice is captured, compacted and combined with other data such as alarm signals and runs it across the line.”

This is the same problem the guys from ipDatatel were telling me about.

“One solution for transmission problems associated with alarm signals and VoIP switches are capture boards. The idea is to capture the transmission off the outgoing phone connection of the panel and convert that IP information and send it over the Internet. This is one idea the industry is working towards. If you have VoIP then you probably have Internet service. That makes IP signaling a possibility. The idea is terrific, but in practice it is difficult because every manufacturer uses its own protocols," said Dave Young, VP Vision Monitoring Services." The central station requires that manufacturers’ receiver equipment receive the signal. In traditional alarms it came down to format; as long as the receiver could handle the format, you could receive any manufacturer’s signals. The ideal solution for those products is a standardized transmission that allows a universal receiver to receive that traffic which the industry may or may not be working on. It is mind boggling that manufacturers cannot agree on a transmission protocol to send traffic to be handled by any number of devices—they all want to sell the razors and the blade, but not the razors that can handle any blade.”

Does anyone else have anything to say about IP communications? Problems or solutions? What's next?

 

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