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R&D, training all part of CPI's roadmap

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

CPI Security now has a lot of room to grow, including some R&D space. The company started building a new 120,000 square-foot building a few weeks ago. Recently, I got a chance to catch up with Ken Gill, CEO of CPI, and talk a bit more about the new facility’s design and how it compares to—and expands on—the current one.

Room to grow is a big theme with this building. Not everyone at CPI is moving over to the new facility once it’s built, Gill said. In fact, the company currently plans on maintaining both buildings on its 28-acre campus.

“Even though we’re not required to, the entire building will be UL-listed so we can operate [the central station] anywhere in the building,” he said.

The central station, which will move to the new facility when its completed, will have almost triple the space it has now.

“We’ll have better training space in there. Research and development [space] is going to keep us on the forefront of technological advances,” said Gill.

The current 47,000 square foot headquarters was built in late 2001. Gill said he expects the move to be done around the end of 2016.

The building will have amenities like a dining facility and gym to attract and retain employees, he said. It will be environmentally friendly, and CPI will seek LEED certification for the building.

“If we keep our employees happy, then they’ll—in turn—keep our customers happy, they’ll be more engaging with the customers,” Gill said.

CPI’s new building could even help the atmosphere. “Any time that you make investments into the business, it creates good morale,” he said. “When folks see growth, they see opportunity, from an employee standpoint, and we want our employees to know that they do have opportunity.”

CPI has about 130,000 customers in the Southeast United States.

CAA has busy fall schedule

 - 
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The California Alarm Association has planned four regional meetings in September.            

An EBAA general meeting will be held in Richmond Sept. 8; an IEAA general meeting in Riverside Sept. 15; an OCAA general meeting in Anaheim Sept. 16; and an an SDSA general meeting in San Diego Sept. 17. RSVPS are needed.

Additional general meetings are planned for October and November.

The organization is also planning for its winter convention, Dec. 9-12 in San Francisco, where the George A. Weinstock Award will go to Matt Westphal of Bay Alarm.

Will UTC buy Nortek?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Will UTC buy Nortek?

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, says it's in talks to do so for around $1.2 billion. I talked to some folks in the past few days who say the purchase, which may not make sense on the surface may indeed make sense. Other financial reports, such as the Motley Fool, concur.

Nortek is the parent company of well known access control, security and automation brands Linear, 2GIG and Go!Control. Those brands fall under the Nortek Security and Control division. It's  a global diversified company with a current market cap of $1.3 billion and an enterprise value of $2.7 billion, and the bulk of Nortek’s business falls outside security, it also does HVAC, air management and AV.

Based in Hartford, Conn., United Technologies Corporation is a global $81 billion company that makes building systems and aerospace industry products. Its segments include:  Otis elevators; Pratt & Whitney;  UTC Aerospace Systems and UTC Climate, Controls & Security, which in addition to security does HVAC and refrigeration. UTC owns access control provider Lenel (as one person I spoke to called it--the darling of the UTC security portfolio) and intrusion and smart home provider Interlogix.

UTC bought GE Security in 2010. Here's a Q&A we did at the time.  Two years later, UTC sold its fire and security integration business (Red Hawk) to a private equity group.

UTC recently sold its Sikorsky helicopter division for $9 billion, so they've got money to invest.

Neither Nortek nor UTC are commenting, but plenty of folks outside of the businesses are talking about it.

People I spoke to said that UTC went looking for Nortek—Nortek was not actively looking for a buyer. They don’t believe that it is the security part of the business that is necessarily driving the deal—but rather, the fact that Nortek’s lines of businesses line up with UTC’s Climate Controls and Security division, though there would definitely be some overlap with 2GIG and Interlogix.

As The Motley Fool explains it, what's driving the deal is that the numbers make sense.

From the report: “…Nortek could be a pretty nice bargain. Bought for today's $1.4 billion valuation, Nortek would cost UTC less than 0.6 times Nortek's annual sales. UTC stock, in contrast, costs more than twice as much, at 1.3 times sales.
Meanwhile, although it earns no net profits, Nortek does earn operating profits (i.e., it would have been profitable but for the cost of interest, taxes, and various one-time items). In fact, at its current operating profit margin, Nortek earned about $123 million in operating profit on its revenues last year. If, after buying Nortek, UTC is able to improve the latter's operations so as to extract something like the 16.5% margin that UTC's own Climate, Controls, and Security business achieves, then this would work out to $413 million in annual profits from UTC's new subsidiary -- $290 million better than Nortek made on its own.”

Will the deal happen? I have no idea. But I guess I need to be prepared for another ISC West booth visit where I have to learn, again, how the UTC security business has been realigned.

 

Dice adds 200k accounts to cloud-hosted center

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dice has added more than 200,000 accounts to its cloud-hosted monitoring center platform this year, the company announced today, and has a 24-month goal of reaching 1 million accounts total.

I got the chance to talk with Cliff Dice, company president and CEO, today about the platform’s growth and some of the problems it has helped solve, like dropped signals and account attrition.

Prior to this year, there were only about 10,000 accounts on Dice’s monitoring center, Dice estimated. Many of the new 200,000 accounts were added on after the service received its recent UL-listing. Here's a story on that.

When asked about strategies for hitting the 1 million hosted accounts mark, Dice said that the company’s currently focusing on current Dice software users. Though, he said it could be an easy way for alarm companies to switch from a different automation platform to Dice.

Dice is part owner of a telephone company, and Dice’s hosted monitoring center uses it’s own network. Having the ability to fully track the signal gives Dice the ability to see when and where a signal gets dropped and address the problem.

“Because we’re controlling everything end-to-end, we don’t have the problems with the VoIP issues that the alarm industry has,” Dice said.

This end-to-end understanding has even helped with attrition. “With the people we’ve put online, it’s cut their attrition primarily because we were able to analyze which panels weren’t working. … A lot of the alarm cancellations, problems, and service calls that alarm companies do, is related to the alarm panels not communicating right.”

Account attrition was cut by about 50 percent among the companies hosted on its cloud center, Dice said.

When I met with Cliff, both at ISC West and ESX, he mentioned the great reception the cloud-hosted service has had. It’s interesting to see more about that.

Matlins' new gig includes e-commerce

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Think Protection, the mass market home alarm company launched by industry veteran Joel Matlin in June, is preparing for another launch next month: an e-commerce store.

“The launch is incredibly exciting as potential customers can order an alarm system through the store 24/7 from anywhere in the world," Matlin's son, Adam Matlin, Think Protection's COO, told me.

"With us operating throughout the U.S. and Canada, we believe the e-commerce store will present a fantastic opportunity to dramatically expand our brand and our high value/low cost value proposition,” he said.  

Joel Matlin is CEO of the company, based and Toronto and Florida. He previously founded AlarmForce and Frisco Bay Industries.

 

 

 

The Protection Bureau moves into Virginia

 - 
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Systems integrator The Protection Bureau has opened a new branch office in Richmond, Va.

I talked to Matthew Ladd, CEO of The Protection Bureau, about the new office today. “We had an opportunity that came to us with people in Richmond who wanted to work for the Protection Bureau,” he said. The integrator has 152 clients in the area and has had “an ongoing service need in region,” he said.

“It was the perfect fit and opportunity. It made sense to open a branch office and we were able to do that with two technicians, a branch manager and a part-time office person,” Ladd said.

“It all came together in two weeks,” he said. The new staff members visited The Protection Bureau headquarters in Philadelphia last week and this week the office manager is in Richmond “teaching them about our systems and procedure so they can blend into The Protection Bureau way of doing business.

The Richmond office will service current and future Protection Bureau customers and Security-Net customers as well. The branch manager will handle sales initially, but Ladd plans to add more sales personnel. “We’ll look to expand and grow the office and make it another success for The Protection Bureau,” he said.

The Protection Bureau does about $15 million in sales annually and has 97 employees. In addition to its headquarters in Philly, it has a satellite office in Plainfield, N.J. That office has three technicians, but Ladd said it's not a branch office. “It’s a service point for our clients in North Jersey through New York and into New England.”

Ladd said that business in 2015 has been good and he’s hearing the same thing from other integrators. “The overall economy is getting stronger.”

CPI looks to add 300 employees

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A lot of companies seem to have their employee environment on the mind, especially when it comes to designing a new space. CPI Security broke ground on Friday for its new 120,000 square-foot facility, to be built adjacent to its current building in Charlotte, N.C. Alongside this development, the company announced that it plans to add 300 employees, to its current total of 540, over the next couple years.

The new building will hold training facilities, R&D, and the company’s central station, which is CSAA 5 Diamond certified and UL listed, CPI said in a recent release. For the company’s employees, there will be a gym and a dining facility.

This news comes in at a time where others like Vivint and Monitronics are moving into new spaces—both of which incorporated a close-by body of water, interestingly enough. Vivint underlined the benefits employees get from something as simple as natural light. Monitronics talked about an open floor plan keeping groups together.

One thing I’ve been interested to hear about, from both Vivint and Monitronics, has been the process of the move. Monitronics appointed “move captains” and Vivint did it in the space of one shift.

I’m curious to hear more about how CPI will physically move into its new space, and hope to follow-up with the company soon. 

More conflicting news on the home security/home automation front

 - 
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I spoke with Tom Kerber of Parks Associates this morning about a survey the company recently did that showed that telecoms and cablecos are making big gains in the home automation industry. 

When I was at ISC West and ESX a few months ago, I spoke to a number of companies who told me that home automation is a giant opportunity for traditional resi dealers to up-sell—and basically stay alive in this ever-increasing competitive market. Those companies are moving forward.

Millenials—they're everywhere!—are the biggest buyers of home automation products, according to a report from Icontrol.

Then I read reports from the likes of Argus Insights about how consumers are already, and I paraphrase, fed up with home automation. That party is over, Argus said.

Meanwhile, Kerber at Parks Associates says that a greater number of traditional dealers need to get into home automation. I can’t think of one company I’ve spoken to over the past few months who isn’t offering these services. Who isn’t? 

What's the deal?

A new locale for ESX

 - 
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ESX will take place west of the Mississippi for the first time in its history next year when it moves to Ft. Worth, Texas.

The tradeshow organizers announced that the show will take place June 8-10, 2016. Organizers said Fort Worth was chosen because of ease of access from most cities, hotel selection, state-of-the-art convention center, and a "walkable and safe urban environment."

ESX will announce the schedule of events and the educational program in January.

 

 

Monitronics moved

 - 
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Eighty-seven percent of Monitronics’ 1,100 employees were fully moved into the company’s new campus by the end of July (photo of new facility on left). Now all that’s left is to move the central station, which will happen around the beginning of Q4 this year, according to Bruce Mungiguerra, Monitronics’ SVP of operations. I caught up with Mungiguerra recently to hear about how the move went.

“Obviously, moving a thousand people … is never an easy task,” Mungiguerra said. “Providing … the service to our customers without a hiccup was the important part. So, we staggered the move on a weekend-by-weekend basis.”

In these weekend time windows departments, like customer care, tech support, and dealer development, were guided by identified “move captains.” Moving groups department-by-department made the move easier, Mungiguerra said.

I’ve heard a lot about the move over the past several months. I remember talking with Mungiguerra earlier this year about what the move would add to the company’s culture. Here’s a story on that. Not too long ago, when I was at ESX I heard more about it from the company’s dealer sales and marketing coordinator, Bre Otero. "It'll be great to have everybody back in one building," Otero told me.

Now, the bulk of the move is finished. Mungiguerra, when I spoke with him recently, said he was surprised at how smoothly the process went, always waiting for the unexpected to happen—but it never did.

“I don’t think we could have even anticipated that it went as well as it did,” said Mungiguerra. “[I] couldn’t be happier with how the entire company pulled together to make it as successful as it was.”

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