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The business case for booth boys at trade shows

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tess Nacelewicz here, the new associate editor of Security Systems News. I'll have my photo and bio on this blog next week.

ASIS 2010 has just finished, but my thoughts already are turning to next year. And I have a great idea for the ASIS 2011 show: more “booth boys.”

Before I showed up in Dallas for ASIS this week  – my very first trade show! – I had heard that “booth babes” were a feature of the experience.

Sure enough, there were a lot of attractive young women wearing tight clothing and big smiles at various booths as they handed out information or encouraged people to sign up for promotions and free prizes.

But I wasn’t expecting the booth boy. Yet, there he was when I went to Stanley Convergent Security Solutions’ booth: a good-looking, personable young man in swim shorts and a tank top, with a  surfboard as a prop. (Stanley went with an “oasis” theme this year, complete with music from The Beach Boys and a thatch-roofed hut.)

The booth boy (sorry, guy, I forgot to ask your name) put his arm around me as my editor snapped a picture.

Later, in talking to Stanley officials, they said a lot of other women had snagged him for photo shoots too. In fact, by midday on the first day of the show Stanley said it had a record number of visitors at its booth.

OK, maybe that wasn’t all due to the handsome surfer dude, but it got me thinking: Why weren’t there more booth boys?

Look at it this way. The booth babes, in addition to being pleasing eye candy and adding to the fun of the show, also have a business function. They attract more people to your display.

And yes, it was clear from the crowds at the show that guys still predominate in the industry.

But it’s also evident that the industry is attracting more women. They range from women in top management (such as three impressive women I met at the show: JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications; Lisa Roy of Johnson Controls, vice president of global security strategy; and Jamie Haenggi, CMO at Protection One) to the women attendees at ASIS walking the floor to learn what you’ve got to offer.

So, next year, how about some more booth boys to help attract women to displays?

You need not consider it gender parity…it could just be good business!


Sad news for the security industry: CSAA past president John Murphy dies

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We at SSN received some sad news today through CSAA's signals. The security industry has lost an industry heavy-hitter with the passing of John Murphy.

CSAA on October 14 announced the passing of CSAA past president John Murphy from a protracted illness.

“Despite his courageous six year battle, John peacefully succumbed to his illness October 13, 2010,” Murphy’s wife Mary Murphy said in the CSAA announcement. “John passed at home with our children and myself at his bedside, and we now rest comfortably in knowing that John is finally pain free.”

In lieu of flowers, the Murphy family have requested donations be made to the Directors Fund in Clinical Cardiology in honor of Dr. Irving Herling at Penn Medicine. Donations can be made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and should be sent to: Carol A. Forte, Executive Director of Development, Centers & Institutes, Penn Medicine, 3535 Market Street, Suite 750, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

A wake for friends and family is scheduled for the afternoon and evening of Sunday, Oct. 17, at McChesney Funeral Home on Main Street in Moorestown, N.J. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, Oct. 18 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 42 West Main Street in Moorestown. Interment services will be held at Lakeview Memorial Cemetery in Cinnaminson followed by a luncheon at Riverton Country Club.


Like a virgin at ASIS 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tess Nacelewicz, the new associate editor at Security Systems News here. We'll swap out my photo and bio for Martha's next week when we're all back in Maine, but right now, we're here in Dallas at the ASIS show.

Understand that I’m just three weeks into my new job as associate editor for Security Systems News, and so brand new to the security industry I feel proud when I can use the term “RMR” in a sentence. It’s the first industry acronym I learned, and about the only one I can throw around with any confidence.

And suddenly, my editor puts me on a plane and sends me to ASIS. Its proper name is ASIS International 56th Annual Seminar and Exhibits. But to me, it’s My Very First Trade Show.

Early Tuesday morning, I walked in the door of this giant, giant, Texas-sized room at the Dallas Convention Center. It had an entrance but it didn’t seem to have any back door…no matter how far you walked it seemed there were just more and more booths.

It was noisy, and there were lots of signs and video displays and music and logos. There also were crowds and crowds of people, many of them wearing matching color-coordinated shirts.

But one thing that stood out after spending a day talking to many of them was that they’re some of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met in my life. It seems that people in the security business are very passionate about their products. And one of them told me why. He said it’s a good feeling to sell products that save property and lives.

Among other things that stood out were the distinctive booths some companies had. Stanley Convergent Security Solutions went with an “oasis’ theme to convey how safe customers feel when in the company’s hands. They had a grass-thatched hut, surf music playing and a handsome young man wearing shorts and carrying a surfboard standing in front of the booth. He graciously posed with me while my editor took a photo.

Stanley president Tony Byerly said the company has been doing themed exhibits for five years and that they really draw in the customers. This year’s was the most popular yet, he said, with about 1,000 visitors by midday.

Another unique experience was attending a reception at the G4S Secure Solutions booth. Lined up sternly still in front of the booth were what looked like about 10 state troopers in khaki-colored uniforms with wide-brimmed hats. But then I learned that one of the services G4S offers is guarding and those “police” were some of the company’s employees.  With our perimeter well protected, we talked shop, drank beer and ate snacks.

I also learned Tuesday about how Honeywell Security & Communications wants to help homeowners be able to manage the energy needs of their households via their security panels, and saw Protection One’s new logo and heard about that company’s new initiatives for speedy service. I learned that getting into the fire alarm business has proved a good growth strategy for Diebold, and later saw a demonstration on the latest in fire alarm systems at SimplexGrinnell.

And I heard someone use the term “pull-through.” Now, if I can only figure out to use it in a sentence…

ADS' Mahler wins Lott Award: What's next for the CSAA past prez?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mel Mahler

I received a press release today announcing that CSAA past president and ADS Security chairman and CEO Mel Mahler has received the CSAA's Stanley C. Lott award. The award is given out annually to one whose "contributions have been significant over the span of their careers," according to the release.

Mel received the award at the CSAA's annual meeting, which wrapped last week in Marana, Ariz.

I spoke with Mel earlier today about his time as president of the CSAA, what the award means to him and to ADS customers and what the future holds for ADS.

Was this a surprise to you Mel or were you expecting this?

It was a surprise. When I was president of CSAA I awarded the Stan Lott Award twice and there were only three people that knew about it: Myself, CSAA executive director Steve Doyle, and the person that put together the trophy. It was very closely guarded. So, yes, it was a great surprise. It was an even greater surprise in 2005 when I got the Weinstock award from ESA, formerly NBFAA because I'm a former president of CSAA, not ESA. So in 2010 to get the same kind of high honor from CSAA meant the world to me.

What do you think led to you receiving this honor?

Well, I'll tell you, back seven years ago, when I was asked to come in as president of CSAA, I was reluctant, because I didn't have my really excellent team I have in place now, and I knew that job was going to be very time consuming. Four past presidents of CSAA came together in a meeting and told me, 'Mel, you have to do this, it's very important. You bring a different perspective that we need now. That was Ron LaFontaine, Bob Bonifas, John Mayberry and Ralph Sevinor ... I'm glad now I did it, and I would encourage anyone that has that opportunity to step up and do the same thing.

Does this award say anything to your ADS customers?

I think Stan Lott is really the one who brought Five Diamond as a designation to CSAA and today, we now have over a hundred Five Diamond central stations, and we were the number five Five Diamond... So to get this award--which is about more than just Five Diamond--connects us to him. Right now Five Diamond is really the hallmark of the industry.

What's on the horizon for you and for ADS?

I think now that I've got the team together--I've got a great president in John Cerasuolo who is on top of the day-to-day--it really gives me the opportunity to concentrate on acquisitions. As you know we just completed our 15th new location in Jackson, Tennessee. Now we go from Kentucky all the way down to Melbourne, Florida. And it really frees me up to do these acquisitions. I'm also on a number of industry boards--I'm on the board of American Alarm in Arlington, Mass., Lowitt Alarm in Long Island, Gilmore Security in Cleveland, Habitec Security in Toledo. If I didn't have this team here, I wouldn't be able to do these things. I also have a great partner in Bill Hunt in Pittsburgh. He's been with me for 20 years now--since we started--and he allows me the time to do all these things. I see lots of opportunity now for more acquisitions.

ASIS before the show: Flir sheds light on night

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Martha's photo is still on this blog, but this is Tess Nacelewicz, the new associate editor of Security Systems News. We'll be updating the photo next week. In the meantime, I hadn't been on the job for more than ten days before heading off to my very first security show and last night I went to my first pre-show event.

You’ve seen the images of what soldiers see when they wear night vision goggles. Suddenly, figures and buildings usually hidden by the pitch black of the night are as visible as they are in the day, although in kind of an eerie green glow.

Now imagine if you could see things at night the way you do in the day, in color and without the weird green glow. That’s what I did last night in Dallas, when Flir – a thermal-imaging company based in Portland, Ore. that specializes in finding commercial applications for military technology –demonstrated its new Color Night Vision cameras at the Las Colinas Country Club.

It was the night before today’s start of the ASIS 2010 conference in Dallas and I and some other security industry writers were getting a sneak preview of what Flir had in store for the show.

We stood on a balcony overlooking the golf course. On the balcony were some cameras, including a standard security camera and a Color Night Vision camera, hooked up to video screens.

It was dark so we couldn’t see much as we looked out over the golf course. The standard camera reflected the dark situation – its screen was black.

But then we looked at the screen of the Color Night Vision camera. It revealed the golf course almost as if it were still afternoon. We could see the green of the grass, the purple flowers on a bush  – and two Flir employees standing on the course about 100 yards away.

The standard security camera hadn’t given us a clue those guys were there. For all we could tell from its black screen of information, the golf course was empty.

Imagine the security implications: a person or car couldn’t sneak up on your property in the dark because the of Color Night Vision camera would reveal them in living color.

Or, as Bill Klink, VP of Security and Surveillance for Flir, puts it: “We solve challenging imaging situations.”

I’ll be interested to see the reaction Flir gets at the show when it demonstrates its Color Night Vision camera and also a new high-resolution thermal imaging camera to others.


More verification talk and the evolution of personal/mobile security

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I got an email from Sean O'Keefe of Texana Security today. Sean has been an advocate of RSI's verification solution Videofied for a while. I wrote a special report  a while ago on verification and higher priority response for alarms that are verified. In that story, Sean made a bold statement: O’Keefe said Texana actually has gone so far as to get all their customers to agree to a new Texana policy: police will not be notified of alarms that are not video-verified. “Part of our dealer program is that we deeply subsidize the equipment, so that a dealer can get this stuff now for almost the same price as other equipment,” O’Keefe said. “There really is a difference in police response time ... We had 11 apprehensions in a two-month period—that’s a lot … I tell police I have a technology here that can significantly reduce false alarms, increase apprehension opportunities and creates a safer response environment for responding officers. In 30 years I’ve never received the kind of response from law enforcement that I get with this.”

In his email this morning, Sean passed on a customer testimonial and some Videofied clips showing the solution doing what it was designed to do: verify a potential apprehension opportunity and help lead to an arrest.

From Sean's email:

"I thought you might find the following message and accompanying videos interesting.  There has been a rash of thefts at building supply warehouses during the past couple of years.  I  have been advised by law enforcement that many of these thefts are being carried out by organized crime syndicates.  As you can deduct from the following customer testimonial, we replaced his “standard” video system  (after he had experienced several undetected break-ins) with the Texana Video Verified system and as the videos indicate were able to facilitate the detection  and apprehension of two (not four) intruders."

Regardless of where you stand on the verified vs. non-verified debate (is it okay to trumpet higher police priority for verified alarms? Something I've written about before) you can't argue with results: in this case video verification got results.

Here's the testimonial (from the alarm dealer) Sean references:

"Building Supply Centers/Warehouses have been a frequent target of thieves.  On 10/6/2010 Texana received 'video' intrusion alarms from one of our customers (Roofing Materials Supplier) and transmitted the alarm to Dallas PD.  Dallas PD responded immediately and apprehended four individuals.  Following is an unsolicited testimonial from our customer.  Note the customer indicates he had experienced 5 previous break-ins that were undetected by a conventional CCTV system.  This is yet one more example of the effectiveness of a 'video verified' alarm system coupled with priority response from the police department."

And here's the testimonial from the end user:

"Attached is a video stream from the security system we installed in Dallas last year after the string of burglaries. The new system  last night worked just as advertised and  resulted in 4 people being arrested for theft.  The system has an infrared perimeter cameras that when the infrared is broken sends this 15 second video stream to the security company that monitors it 24/7 and if they determine if the cops need to be contacted. They did and dispatched the police and the cops caught the 4 guys in the act and arrested them."

Again, I don't advocate for either a verified (either by video or by audio) alarm system. I don't have an alarm system myself--neither verified nor traditional.

I DO like hearing what all of you think, however. I think that as consumer electronics get more advanced, end users are going to demand more technology and more personal involvement in monitoring... Look at Total Connect and other smart phone type apps.

I'm actually working on a story right now about a company that's turning smartphones into monitored, mobile two-way audio units for personal security.

I wrote a story back about GPS tacking company Wind Trac in which a couple security executives said monitoring companies would have to start offering mobile, personal tracking services and be ready to embrace more technologically advanced solutions.

From that story:

"Doug Harris is director of public relations at Wind Trac, a provider of real-time GPS-based tracking and monitoring systems for asset tracking, fleet management, child tracking, lone-worker protection, elderly tracking, weapons tracking, medical alert, and personal safety applications. Harris said that such a lack of attention on the part of the traditional security industry to sell and monitor GPS-based tracking and monitoring systems has allowed his company to flourish. 'We’ve taken a very reasonable and a very reasonably-priced approach that most people don’t.' It’s this willingness to 'protect the family, protect them where they go,' to go mobile, that will set Wind Trac apart, said Harris. 'Individuals can save a bundle getting out of the conventional monitoring culture and that’s the secret to our success.'

Mike Simpson, president of Bay City, Mich.-based security software developer Dice Corporation, agreed that the time was right for traditional security companies to expand their reach· 'I think the point is that the technology is becoming more mobile, less costly, more reliable and easier for central stations to be involved in the monitoring part of a solution,' Simpson said. 'I have been saying for a couple of years now that the really smart central stations will become general monitoring centers, if they aren’t that already. This is the result of moving into the monitoring of devices that go beyond traditional security services.'"

I wonder how long it will be before a company comes up with a way to use a smartphone's camera to send video feed to a central station in connection with a panic button activation? I welcome your thoughts.

Fire forum in Indianapolis

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Center for Campus Fire Safety is inviting all college stakeholders responsible for their institution's fire protection programs to attend the Campus Fire Forum 2010 this fall. It's scheduled for Nov. 2-4 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis. It includes educational sessions and workshops by leading fire safety and industry leaders, technology exhibits, networking opportunities and a "Town Meeting," an open mic session sharing of group ideas.
Campus Fire Forum bills itself as the only national conference that focuses exclusively on campus fire safety issues. It offers the opportunity to learn from experts and interact with campus fire safety professionals. Attendees will gain new ideas and proven techniques to protect their campus communities.
The forum will discuss, compare and celebrate achievements and improvements in campus and fire safety and showcase advancements in products. 
The keynote speaker will be Robin Gaby Fisher, a news feature writer for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. Her series "After the Fire," about two students who were critically burned in the Seton Hall dormitory fire, was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. 
For additional information, list of speakers, registration and accommodation information, click here.

What happens when three Pelco ex-pats go into business?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

They form a company called Clovis Associates. Clovis, for anyone who doesn't know, is the California town where Pelco HQ is located.

Clovis Associates is the brainchild of well-known former Pelco executives: Dave Smith, Joe Olmstead and Bill Arbuckle.

It's a consulting operation that offers the benefit of Smith, Olmstead and Arbuckle's experience to  "developers, manufacturers and investors." Here's a sampling of what the trio will provide: "objective business and product evaluation" to investors; strategic business development advice; planning and measuring the effect of your marketing strategies; product development assistance; and evaluation and advice about operations.

Here's a link to the Clovis Associates web site.

Kratos to buy Henry Brothers for $45 million

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Henry Brothers announced this morning that it's selling to Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (Nasdaq: KTOS) for $45 million in cash, or $7.00 per share. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval, but, according to the release, Jim Henry and all other directors of HBE, who together own 60 percent  of HBE's shares outstanding, will vote their shares in favor of the anticipated merger. Henry has also "committed to purchase Kratos common stock in the open market at prevailing market prices using a portion of his share of the proceeds from the merger following the transaction closing." 

Imperial Capital LLC advised HBE on the deal and "rendered a fairness opinion to the HBE board of directors in connection with the approval of the transaction by the board."

Here's an official statement from Jim Henry: "This transaction combines two leaders in the defense and security solutions market, creating a great opportunity for our organization, customers and shareholders. As a much larger organization, the combined company will be better able to establish a presence in targeted markets with the potential for significant growth opportunities, as well as enhanced service opportunities in certain key markets and industries."

An an official statment from Eric DeMarco, Kratos' President and CEO: "Henry Brothers is clearly one of the premier Homeland and National Security Solution Providers and Command and Control Center Design Engineering and Operators in the industry today.  We see the opportunity for significant cross selling between the two businesses, including for Henry Brothers' proprietary first responder communications products and solutions.  Additionally, we see the opportunity to cross sell into HBE's large and established customer base Kratos' NeuralStar and DopplerVue situational awareness, security network management, protection and cybersecurity software products."

I've got calls into Jim Henry and John Mack at Imperial, will have more for you on our newswire tomorrow.


New report: Retrofit market sunny spot for fire installers

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The worldwide economic recession has impacted the fire alarm equipment market because of a decline in new construction, says a new report by Global Industry Analyst, but the news isn't all bad:  The report says building renovation activity is creating significant demand for fire alarm systems, and is an area of great growth potential.

Demand for fire alarm products dropped noticeably during 2008 and 2009 because of a steep fall in new construction activity during the recession, according to this Sept. 27 report “Fire Alarm Equipment: A Global Strategic Business Report.”

The decline in the construction sector derailed market growth, especially in developed economies. Even so, the scenario prompted more demand for retrofit fire equipment, which showed noticeable growth during 2008 and 2009, the report says. Many buildings that were constructed prior to revised building codes have no alarm systems. Thus, building renovation represents a huge potential for fire alarm equipment market growth.

Fire alarm panels are the largest product group in the fire alarm equipment market, with addressable panels representing the largest product segment, and voice evacuation systems representing the fastest growing segment in the market. The other product group in the market, fire alarm devices, is poised to register a CAGR of more than 5 percent over the analysis period.

Major players profiled in the report include Bosch Security Systems, UTC Fire & Security, Hochiki America Corporation, Honeywell Security & Communications, Siemens Building Technologies Group, Tyco Fire & Security, SimplexGrinnell, and ADT Security Services.

In addition, significantly higher demand for fire alarm equipment in Asia-Pacific, Latin American and Eastern European countries is expected to fuel market growth in the coming years.

Click here for more details.