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Greetings from ESX in Charlotte

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I’m hearing from people on the floor and at different ESX events, is that they’re pleased with the show this year. There were more booths (and notably some bigger booths—Mobotix for one) and more people, everyone agreed.

It seems like in year four, expectations have been managed for ESX. It’s not a deal conference, but it’s a great venue for networking—is what I hear.

And I’d agree, that’s primarily what Dan and I are doing here, although Dan is also attending a bunch of educational sessions and went on the CPI central station tour as well.

I also had a chance to catch up with some manufacturers I didn’t get to talk with at ISC West.

I’m also moderating  a couple of panel discussions. Today at 3:15 I’m moderating a panel called “The door-to-door sales paradigm shift.” For the record, I did not name the panel but I am looking forward to it. I’ve got Alex Dunn, COO of Vivint (formerly APX Alarm) the biggest summer model company; John Strade, ADT’s director of training, who’s trained hundreds of ADT dealers in door-to-door sales; and Patrick Egan, president of Select Security, a traditional, full-service security company based in Penn. Last year, Pat went to Utah, recruited a bunch of college kids who he brought back to Penn. To sell Select Security door to door. It worked so well, he’s doing it again this year.

If it’s anything like the door-knocking panel I moderated last year, it will be lively. Stop by Room 207D if you’re in Charlotte.

On Tuesday I moderated a discussion with Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG Security and Michael Barnes, partner in Barnes Associates about “trends in valuation.” Specifically, how do those new services (hosted, managed services, home automation add ons, etc) affect the value of your company.

I’ll have more on this later, but in general, Joe Nuccio said that many, many of these services are tried and tested, plug and play, and as long as your company has the infrastructure to support the services and it fits with your company profile—they’re a no brainer. (Interestingly, ASG VP of sales and marketing Bob Ryan, who was in the audience,  predicted that ASG would sell “about 300”  more residential cameras this year than it will sell commercial cameras. “And we sell a lot of commercial cameras,” he said, adding that “if you told me that would be the case two or three years ago, I would have said you were crazy.”)

However, Nuccio said, you’ve got to be cautious, test them first, and choose your manufacturers carefully.

Mike Barnes advised caution as well. Services that complement your specialty and vertical market focus can be great. They should contribute to the growth of the company, however. And you should be able to document that growth.


Full service alarm company CPI co-hosts ESX and provides hopping operations tour

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CPI Security was started by company owner/president/CEO Ken Gill in 1976. The company's been in the Carolinas since the early '90s and today boasts around 90,000 accounts in a roughly 80/20 resi/commercial mix supported by over 300 employees. The company's footprint is all through the Carolinas and they just recently branched into Georgia.

I'm down here in Charlotte, N.C.—the heart of CPI territory—for the ESX show, which CPI co-hosted. I've never been down to the Carolinas… As a matter of fact the furthest south I've really ever been was a trip one time to visit my former in-laws down in Florida… Oh, and I've been to Rhode Island a few times… Needless to say, the heat, humidity and grits at breakfast have bowled me over.

The tour of CPI's headquarters started with a short bus ride from the Charlotte convention center. We were greeted at the door of CPI by polite, gracious employees and Ken Gill himself. Inside the awesomely air conditioned lobby guests picked up name tags and headed into an adjacent (it looked like it was probably a training room, but the folks at CPI truly transformed it) lounge, complete with excellent food, an open bar and a jazz duo in the corner.

So I haven't had a lot of experience being in the south, but I've been to a few awesome security companies and monitoring centers. CPI has an impressive operation in Charlotte, spread out throughout roughly 50,000 square feet. The monitoring center is CSAA Five Diamond-certified (a process about which I've written extensively and with which I am personally acquainted.), and UL-listed.

Everyone had a chance to mingle and meet, see old friends and colleagues. I had a chance to exchange cards with some industry folks I've spoken with in the past, but never met. Some fellowship, nosh and cold beverage were a nice way to start the tour.

I had a chance to speak briefly with CPI customer care manager John Shocknesse who filled me in on a little of CPI's philosophy.

"We like to put on a good face and be very active in the organizations, CSAA and ESA," Shocknesse told me. "And I think personally it's great to be as engaged as possible with other companies and share ideas and make the industry better."

CPI broke the sold-out group of tourists up into several groups and passed them off to different executive guides who led the separate groups to different areas of the headquarters. Groups passed each other in the halls but never bunched up, felt crowded or got in each others way, and everyone got to see every aspect of the organization, with everyone reconvening in the jazz lounge for another bite and cocktail before heading back to the convention center.

All-told a nice tour with knowledgeable and friendly people who were willing to answer tourist questions and satisfy our curiosity.


Honeywell app makes “on the go” easier

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Security professionals increasingly rely on mobile technology as they make sales calls and do installation. Now Honeywell has just released an app that will make it easier for professionals to get product information using their iPads in such situations.

Here’s more from a press release Honeywell sent today, entitled “Honeywell iPad App gives security professionals easy access to product information on the go.”

“Available for free in the Apple iTunes App Store, the Honeywell Security Group  App provides easy access to sourcebooks, videos and product brochures for dealers, integrators and installers that serve both the residential and commercial markets. Once the App is retrieved, users can read and store as many items as needed. Honeywell will continuously add resources to the app as new tools become available."

To download the app, go to The app free also is compatible with Apple iPhone. For more information, visit

Honeywell Security Group, based in Melville, N.Y., is a subsidiary of Honeywell International, which is based in Morris Township, N.J.


Charlotte-bound for ESX

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Charlotte-bound at altitude...So I'm sitting in my hotel right now down in Charlotte, N.C. for ESX. It was a good trip... Not as eventful as some of my other travel days, but I did have a security industry exec recognize in the airport in Charlotte, which was at once kind of weird and at the same time a little gratifying. I assume that means you guys are reading our blogs and watching our videos over at ssnTVnews. Feels good.

I'm ready to check out ESX tomorrow and am looking forward to the CSAA and ESA tracks as well as some of the meetings I have set up so far. Avid readers of my blog will recall that at last year's show in Pittsburgh, I shared an elevator with a Verizon exec checking out the show floor... I never did get any responses out of that telco rep, depsite numerous emails... There were certainly big telco announcements in the last year, however. I have a meeting set up this year with some security industry suppliers and another telco that promises some big news... Stay tuned for more.

Avid readers of this blog will also recall that just about this time last year, I was also on the road along with SSN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro. We were on a lightning tour of the Lonestar State's security heavy hitters...

Is it coincidence that Gregg and I again shared a flight? This time down to N.C.? Coincidence that we once again found ourselves schlepping over to a rental car counter and plugging in a vaguley Brittish-sounding GPS device to locate my hotel? I think not!

Now, if you check out the picture from this year, you'll see that we weren't quite riding in the same style as last year, but one can't be upgraded to a cherry-red Camaro every time, I suppose...

Drop by SSN's booth #900 and see us. We'd love to say hi and catch up on what's going on and how your show's going.

And incidentally, if you haven't downloaded your ESX app yet, get going! That's one slick little app. Functional and useful!


ADT colleagues mourn passing of Bill Welch

Monday, June 6, 2011

I did not know Bill Welch, a longtime ADT’s employee, who passed away May 31, but I received several nice tributes to Bill from friends and colleagues. He was obviously well liked and respected during the 30-plus years he worked at ADT.

Mike Meacham, a former ADT associate of Bill Welch said: “Bill started as a service tech with no formal training and advanced through the ranks of ADT to become the president of the Southeast Group prior to his retirement. But throughout his career and his many company achievements he was one of the few folks I have worked with to rise to the levels he did without truly ever forgetting where he started and where he came from,” Meacham wrote.

“He always interacted with everyone the same, whether it be the CEO of one of the nation's largest textile or banking companies to the newly hired installer or inspector. He treated everyone with respect and dignity. I, as well as many at ADT, and throughout the industry, mourn his passing and will always remember him with many fond memories,” Meachem said.

Erich Schappeler, group director at ADT Security Services, had this to say:  “In my 36 years, Bill was one of the most respected individuals in the company.”

Jay Hauhn, ADT chief technology officer, called Welch a “true gentlemen and one of the most genuine people I have ever met in my career.” He echoed Meachem’s comments:  “Around 1982, when I was a very low-level manager out of the corporate office, I had occasion to visit his office. He met me personally, spent an incredible amount of time with me and treated me like I was a senior exec that was visiting his office.”

According to an online obituary, William John Welch, 73, of Covington, Ga. was born June 1, 1937. He was an Army veteran and a member of Rehoboth Presbyterian Church in Decatur. He loved fishing and farming. He is survived by his wife: Shirley B. Welch, Lawrenceville; children: Scott & Teresa Welch, Highland, NC; Pat & Paige Welch, Dawsonville; sister: Vera Ann Tyson, Duluth; grandchildren: Chris Welch, Brittany Welch, Addison Welch, Hannah Burdette, Skye Welch; great grandchild: Blaine Welch; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Services were held this past weekend.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the American Diabetes Association, Georgia Affiliate, 17 Executive Park Drive, NE # 115, Atlanta, Georgia 30329

Look for the union label on your facial recognition system

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Certain biometric manufacturers have a friend in the union up North, according to a news item I saw in a SIA update yesterday.

The update said that a union representing Canada Border Services Agency employees "wants more intensive screening of travelers, including a biometric face-recognition tool to pinpoint security threats and wanted criminals. And it’s pushing for an end to closures and reduced hours at land-border crossings.”

According to the update "The article stated that the union would like to have a system in place that would match faces of travelers entering the country with images stored in a database. The hope is by having this capability, border workers would be able to 'zero in on security threats, criminal fugitives and fraudulent immigration cases.'”

Any manufacturers you know do that?

The update also said  the union want "to use biometric measures on people exiting the country to potentially catch wanted criminals or those with deportation warrants. As the CTV website article stated, “The Canada-U.S. declaration envisions such a system, saying the countries will work toward the exchange of information such that ‘documented entry into one country serves to verify exit from the other country.’”


Embattled fire marshal resigns

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I blogged here a few months ago about a Connecticut fire marshal and how contracts his wife won for her fire alarm company, Pull Stations, raised conflict-of-interest questions.

Now, according to a June 1 news report, fire marshal Brian Badamo resigned this week, shortly before the Board of Fire Commissioners was to hold a meeting to review the results of a town of Hamden, Conn. investigation into whether he had violated any rules.

Here’s more from yesterday’s report from the HamdenPatch, a local news site:

“Badamo came under scrutiny last November when several complaints were filed, including one alleging that he strong-armed a local condominium community two years ago to purchase a fire alarm system from a company his wife owned. He also allegedly failed to reveal his wife's connection to the company when it was chosen to install a system at the Miller Memorial Library, the New Haven Register reported.

A special meeting of the Fire Commission was scheduled for Wednesday night to discuss the results of that investigation but Badamo tendered his resignation.”

According to news report, Badamo has been off work on workman’s compensation since last November and wasn’t available for comment.

The HamdenPatch reported that town Mayor Scott Jackson said Badamo indicated in his letter of resignation that it was “in the best interest of himself and his family to resign.”

The news site said that the town’s investigation of Badamo, which reportedly cost $80,000, is complete, but has not been released publicly.


Pinnacle “Going Beyond Borders”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I’ve written here before about the work Orem, Utah-based Pinnacle Security has been doing through its Securing Hope charitable initiative. Efforts have included Pinnacle employees traveling to Honduras to build homes and install solar panels and hook up electricity to other homes—in some cases for the first time—to meet residents’ energy needs.

Now the company is reaching out to help the needy in Africa.

Pinnacle announced yesterday that through its Securing Hope program it will partner with Going Beyond Borders, an international nonprofit, to raise funds to help build a hospital in western Kenya. The company also said Pinnacle volunteer teams will travel to Kenya in November to help construct the building.

“Pinnacle, as a company, is dedicated to the cause of helping people secure the important things in their lives,” Stuart Dean, Pinnacle’s vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement. “Through our Securing Hope program, we have been able to participate in relief efforts throughout the country and around the world in places like Missouri, Haiti, Honduras and now, Kenya. We are pleased to work with Going Beyond Borders to help build this hospital.”

Here’s more from the May 30 press release: “The new Elukhambi Hospital will replace a facility that closed recently, requiring people in the area to travel several hours to reach the nearest hospital, making minor accidents or injuries life-threatening events. The new building will house a full-service hospital that includes a radiology clinic as well as an eye center and dental center.”

The company said Pinnacle will help raise funds in a variety of ways, including sponsored events, donations from employees, company representatives and the public, in addition to proceeds from its annual 5K run held every fall.


Calculating what your integration company is worth, with and without RMR

Thursday, May 26, 2011

If there’s one message that PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman likes to hammer home with PSA integrators it’s this: Those who offer managed services, maintenance and service plans, and have other RMR generators as part of their business will have more, happier, and stickier customers.

Bozeman's been talking about that for many years. But, according to Jeff Kessler managing director for Imperial Capital, those with RMR, also have more valuable companies.

Kessler spoke about the economic outlook for the security industry on May 18 at the PSA TEC meeting in Westminster, Colo. last week. He was asked by PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman to give a ballpark company valuation of a hypothetical company.

“The alarm guys know what they’re worth,” Bozeman said. “I get calls every day from integrators asking me: ‘What am I worth?’” 

Kessler said that the price goes up for an integrator who offers at least some service. Kessler likes to talk about valuations in terms of EBITDA (although he acknowledged that EBITDA can be calculated in different ways). He said that Bozeman’s hypothetical $7 million integrators that’s 100-percent installation with no RMR could expect to get five- or six-times EBITDA. The same company with at least some RMR, on the other hand, could expect to get six-times to nine-times EBITDA.

In addition to being more valuable, financial players (who are more actively looking at systems integrators than any time in the past five years according to Kessler) are more interested in working with integrators who have “at least some recurring revenue."


NFPA makes antifreeze topical this summer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It’s spring here in the Northeast and our thoughts are turning to summer (well, they would be if it would stop raining and the sun would come out). But despite the warming weather, antifreeze remains a hot topic when it comes to fire sprinkler systems.

This summer, to give you the latest on code changes impacting the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems, the National Fire Protection Association is offering a free web updates on that subject.

The NFPA, based in Quincy, Mass, this month announced the updates on the changes to NFPA sprinkler-related codes. The changes are the result of  “Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) regarding the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems,” according to a press release.

Matthew Klaus, a senior fire protection engineer who will host the web updates, said in a statement: “Based on recent full scale testing of various antifreeze concentrations in sprinkler systems, NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D, and NFPA 25 have modified the requirements for antifreeze usage through recently approved TIAs. The purpose of these broadcasts is to provide a brief history on the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems along with an explanation of the new requirements and a discussion of alternatives to antifreeze.”

There will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions following the presentation.

The updates will be broadcast on June 28, July 7, and July 19. For more information and to register, visit