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Infinova to acquire March Networks for $88.2m cash

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Friday, December 9, 2011

In a deal that will speed March Networks' plan to expand into the Asian market, and create what Infinova says is one “10 largest global players in the video surveillance industry,” of IP video provider Infinova announced this morning that it will acquire IP video provider March Networks in a cash deal.

Infinova will pay $4.9 ($5.00 Canadian) per share. The total value of the sale will be about $88.2 million (or about $90m Canadian).

Infinova, which has its U.S. headquarters in Monmouth Junction, N.J. went public in Dec. 2010 on the Shenzhen exchange and raised $300 m. During an interview at that time, Infinova CEO Jeffrey Liu told me the funds will be used to expand R&D, marketing and sales and acquisitions:  “We’re hiring on all fronts; we’re in hiring mode,” Liu said during that interview. “But we’re not going to use the $300 million just for that, we’ll be looking for acquisitions that will help us get more market share quickly.”

What kind of acquisitions? “We’ve just started looking,” Liu said at the time. However, he said, another small manufacturer would be likely.

March Networks will continue to operate independently from its headquarters in Ottawa, and will retain its name and other brands.

I spoke to March Networks CEO Peter Strom and CMO Net Payne at ASIS in September. The two talked about how their new product introductions (an enterprise DVR, a 5 megapixel and a 3 megapixel camera, as well as new SearchLight applications such as skimming-detection features) are optimized for March’s focus verticals: banking and retail.

Strom noted that March Networks has grown from a $6 million to a $100 million company over the course of eight years ...  and counts the top 50 banks in the world among its global customers with many banking and retail customers standardizing on March Networks globally. Payne said the company is becoming more “channel centric” and said the new products announced at the show are easier to use, install and are reliable, “so you don’t have to roll a truck regularly.” March Networks raised $45 m when it went public in June of 2005.

According to Reuters, "March Networks also announced its quarterly financial results. For the second-quarter, the company reported a loss of C$2.3 million, or 13 Canadian cents per share, compared with earnings of C$1.2 million, or 7 Canadian cents per share, a year ago."

The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. I’ll have more on the story on next week’s newswire after I speak with Stphen Cannellos of Infinova and Peter Strom at March Networks.

Partisan bluster and the threat to centrals

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Friday, December 9, 2011

How could the alarm industry have gotten caught up in the partisan bickering over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut? It’s a long story, but here’s the quick pitch:

A bill proposed in February by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.—the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011— contained provisions that threatened the alarm industry, namely an FCC auction of bands of spectrum used by centrals. The revenue would help offset the reallocation of the “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for a public safety broadband network, a byproduct of the communication problems experienced during the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Auctioning spectrum used by centrals would be hugely problematic for the industry on many fronts, a fact not lost on the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. The AICC, working with police and fire protection groups from around the nation, has been lobbying the FCC about the potential problems, and surprise—apparently the frequency provisions have been dropped from the latest version of the bill. There are other messy details, of course, but you don’t need to hear about how sausage is made, at least not from me.

So this is good news, right? Well, I just got off the phone with Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, and it seems that another beast has raised its head: Next Generation 911. This addition to the House bill would allow alarm signals to be sent directly to PSAPs, including signals from PERS devices. The alarm industry currently screens these calls, 99 percent of which don’t require the dispatch of emergency services, according to Fiore. Removing third-party monitoring would have an obvious consequence, he said: “It would bring 911 centers to their knees.”

In the grand tradition of lawmaking, the Next Generation 911 provision is now tied in with the legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut—again, think sausage—on which Democrats and Republicans have not exactly been seeing eye to eye. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed that lawmakers will not go home for Christmas until the deal is done, so that means the AICC’s work isn’t done. There likely will be more developments next week, and probably more down the line on other measures that could undercut centrals. “It’s like weeds popping up in the garden,” Fiore said. “You have to keep looking.”

Stay tuned …

 

ASAP, PSAP, PSIM, SIAC …

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At first it just looked like a big bowl of alphabet soup, but as the “new guy” at Security Systems News, I’m starting to get my head around it. In the first few weeks at my post I’ve had a chance to hear from some of the organizational leaders in the industry—Ed Bonifas, Stan Martin, Bob Bean—as well as many others who have helped me get my feet wet. There’s long list of folks who I haven’t talked with, though, and a long list of companies that I’d like to know more about, so I have some work to do.

This blog is part of that process, and it would be great to hear from those in the know if I don’t dial you up first. Any industry developments, large or small, count me in: rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com, or 207-846-0600, Ext. 254. I look forward to getting to know everyone.

On the email front: There was a real gem circulating among CSAA members recently about Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood siren and screen legend. It turns out she was also quite the inventor, co-patenting spread spectrum radio, a technology that would eventually lead to today’s cellphones, Wi-Fi and GPS. And did I mention her torpedo guidance system for the U.S. Navy?

L.A. Times writer Adam Tschorn said it would be like crediting Farrah Fawcett for developing Google’s proprietary search algorithm. But truth is stranger than fiction. Richard Rhodes chronicles Lamarr’s little-known work in his new book, “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”

And that’s Hedy, not Hedley, “Blazing Saddles” fans …

 

In your face, telecoms!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’ve been writing a lot recently about telecoms—Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications and AT&T—entering the security space.

The industry experts I’ve talked to about their new competitors have all been polite, saying that basically, the telecoms don’t have the security expertise or the reputation for good service that security companies have earned with their customers.

So I had to smile at the more in-your-face way that a consumer expressed that same idea in a recent Los Angeles Times article. Here’s what it said:

“Consumers reacted with derision when the Consumer Reports website the Consumerist published a piece on Comcast's entry into the business.

"Yes Mr. Smith, we got a report that your burglar alarm is going off, we are dispatching a security officer to your home and you can expect him on Monday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.," one commenter wrote.”

The article also points to the reasons why those big companies are so interested in security/home automation.

It’s not just that there’s so much money to be made in the space, the article said, but because “the cable industry is facing myriad challenges to its core businesses. The weak economy has led many consumers to cancel their pay-television service, while others are switching to competing video-delivery options, such as satellite operators, telephone companies and the online services Netflix Inc. and Hulu.”

Liguori ready to take helm at Security-Net

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Security-Net, a group of independent integrators that work together as a “global provider of integration services”, formally announced that Joe Liguori will take over the role of president of Security-Net’s board of directors in January.

Ligouri , who is also EVP of Access Control Technologies, in Clinton, N.J., will serve a two-year term and takes over for outgoing president Tom Asp. Asp is also president and CEO of  VTI Security in Burnsville, Minn.

I spoke to Joe Ligouri just before ISC West last March.

During that interview, he told me about how Security-Net’s companies had been working on a plan to take on national accounts, and about their efforts to coordinate from a sales, technical and fulfillment perspective.

The group, which acts as a single national integrator, has obtained national account status with some major vendors.

It has also created internal working groups called “Tech-Net” and “Sales-Net” that align technical and sales know-how.

Tech-Net is made up of head engineers and integration specialists from each company, and “regularly shares design solutions, troubleshooting tips, and technology updates,” Liguori told me during that interview.  Sales-Net includes senior security consultants and integration specialists from each company, who are aligned to develop national sales.

Security-Net has been in existence since 1992, but Ligouri told me the initial impetus behind the national sales effort was a request,  a couple years ago, from a  customer to do a multi-million dollar project. Ligouri and five other Security-Net companies were working on that project as of last March.

It sounds like a smart organization to me—I’ll be interested to see what kinds of traction they’ll get on national accounts as this effort matures.

Nominations sought for security industry "Oscar"

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Face it: You’re probably never going to be a member of the select Hollywood group that judges the movies that win Academy Awards. However, you can help choose which movie wins the security industry version of the Oscar. All you have to do is nominate a movie for the 2012 Morpheus Award by Dec. 15 of this year.

I wrote here earlier this year about the 2010 movie “Unstoppable” winning the award, instituted by Moore Protection of Redondo Beach, Calif. According to company president Don Moore, the award “is presented annually to the film that best depicts the realistic use of modern security technology in mainstream media.”

For example, director Tony Scott won for the film “Unstoppable,” starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, “for his depiction of the beneficial use of closed circuit surveillance cameras in tracking a runaway train.”

Here’s more from a recent news release Moore sent me about the award:
 

Don Moore … instituted the Morpheus Award in 2010 as a friendly reminder to members of the entertainment community to regularly and personally use their security systems. Mr. Moore said, “It is especially frustrating to me when I hear about a celebrity or industry mogul that was burglarized at a time when their security system was not armed. Show business people often have assistants and household staff to whom they have delegated the task of turning on their alarm system, and this is a dangerous practice. If a crime is committed while the system is disarmed it is the owner, not the assistant, that is put at risk. I encourage all my clients to personally arm and disarm their systems daily and test them at least monthly.”

Eligible films must be feature length (defined as over 40 minutes) and have had a theatrical release between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.  

The voting deadline is midnight, Dec. 31, 2011. Votes may be submitted to morpheus@mooreprotection.net. One vote per person, please.

The Morpheus Award will be announced on Friday February 24, 2012 and be presented to the winner personally by Mr. Moore.

 

New certification means more government biz for manufacturer

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Friday, December 2, 2011

It’ll be easier for the Air Force to take its security business to Honeywell as the result of a certification that manufacturer received and announced yesterday. Honeywell’s Vindicator security technology,  which is used for critical-infrastructure protection, now has an ATO (Authority to Operate) certificate for use on U.S. Air Force data networks, Honeywell announced.
This means the Vindicator technologies can “be safely installed on any network to protect mission-critical resources without exposing the organization to security risks” and it  “makes it easier for USAF major commands and local bases to provision the Vindicator systems that best fit their needs.”
The specific product that were approved are: the Vindicator Command & Control platform, V5 Intrusion Detection System , V5 Access Control System, Security Archive Workstation, Vindicator Badge Manager 2  and the UHS-Net family of gateways and transponders.
More from the release: “These technologies enable operators to use a single workstation to manage security event information from perimeter intrusion, video detection, access control and fire systems. Vindicator solutions can utilize an existing or discrete facility network over any media transport: wire, RF, modem, fiber, etc., both encrypted and redundantly. This critical level of security is often required by government and military installations, industrial facilities and many correctional institutions.”

Industry mourns loss of former MBFAA president

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

ESA announced that Jim L. Morris, founder and owner of American Detection Specialists, Inc. in Springfield, Mo., died of a heart attack on Nov. 21. Here's the official obituary.

From the ESA, “Mr. Morris was well known as a strong advocate for both ESA and the industry. He founded American Detection Specialists in 1989, and spent more than 27 years as a security professional. In addition to being the current vice president of ESA's Missouri chapter, he served for many years on the ESA Board of Directors. He was also active in the association's Sales & Marketing Professionals (SMP) group.

He was past president of ESA's Chartered Chapter when it was formerly known as the Missouri Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (MBFAA), and was currently president of the southwest Missouri regional association. Also, in 2006, Mr. Morris was selected as a member of the GE Security Pro Hall of Fame.”

Security Systems News interviewed Jim Morris in 2006 when Morris became president of the Missouri Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.

 

 

Luxurious partnership for Honeywell

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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

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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

 

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