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Affiliated and Essence USA launch new PERS program

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UNION, N.J.—On Monday, connected living solutions provider Essence USA announced a new program, created in partnership with Affiliated Monitoring, to benefit dealers of Essence’s PERS products.

“The fully customizable program gives dealers a range of options about how to best run their PERS offerings, including order fulfillment - direct to the consumer or distributed to the dealer, customer service, invoicing and collections, equipment retrieval and refurbishment, and branding options,” the announcement read.

“PERS is a major focus at Affiliated,” Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated’s vice president, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be able to provide this advanced system to our dealers who are interested in a turnkey PERS program.”

“We can customize a program for any dealer to make it easier to get into PERS,” Affiliated Managing Director Mike Zydor said in the announcement. “For the dealers already in the market, we can provide access to preprogrammed, leading-edge products at discounted rates.”

Essence’s Care@Home suite of PERS products benefits both dealers and end-users, Essence said in its announcement. The offering has a large radio communications range for devices, “allowing users maximum flexibility in moving around their home and property. They also offer a wide variety of safety and security sensors, giving dealers an attractive and scalable offering for their customer base,” the announcement said.

“Essence is on the forefront of in-home PERS technology and has a veteran management team behind it,” said Yaniv Amir, President, Essence USA, in the announcement. “Essence historically has only worked directly with larger players in the space, and we are excited to now bring our products to all Affiliated dealers.”

The program is scheduled to launch within the Affiliated dealer network at the end of May.

PERS provider acquires two

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BALA CYNWYD, Pa.—Connect America, a large provider of PERS products, recently announced two acquisitions through its Healthcare Division; Racine’s Medical Alert, based in La Junta, Co., and Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division, located near Des Moines, Iowa.

“We acquire…  local providers that really have a regional reach and the opportunity to grow those businesses by cultivating referral sources in the geography where they operate,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

By acquiring Racine’s Medical Alert, Connect America’s Healthcare Division expands into Colorado. The company will continue to use it’s Racine’s brand.

Brooks said that the purchase of Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division opens the company’s opportunities in the Des Moines. This division will fold into Connect America’s network in the Des Moines area.

These acquisitions complement the company’s July acquisition of Home Buddy, based in Kansas, Brooks said.

Brooks described the company’s approach to incorporating acquired businesses, “We enhance the sales and marketing operation, we take some of the back office functions and move them to our headquarters, and emphasize a sales effort on a local basis.”

Connect America’s Healthcare Division has finalized four acquisitions in the past 12 months and expects a similar rate for the next year, according to Brooks.

The Healthcare Division grows both organically and through acquisition; 70 percent of the division’s growth comes organically and 30 percent is through acquisitions. The company did not announce the number of subscribers included in the deal.

Tunstall offers no-cost temperature monitoring

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tunstall Americas announced its new Vi+ personal emergency response system earlier in the month, with an integral sensor for ambient temperature. Yesterday, the company announced that extreme temperature monitoring will be provided free of charge to its subscribers.

“Record breaking heat across the United States this summer prompted Tunstall Americas to offer Temperature Extremes monitoring free of charge to subscribers of their home based medical alert service,” the company said in the release.

“Environmental changes indicate that the frequency and severity of heat waves will continue. We are pleased that we are in a position to offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to our current and future subscribers of our Vi Medical Alert System at no additional cost,” Casey Pittock, president and CEO of Tunstall Americas, said in a prepared statement.

The system will look for temperatures either above 89 degrees Fahrenheit or below 50 degrees, at which point the subscriber or caregiver will be notified.

Extreme temperatures specifically concern many of the typical PERS users. “Tunstall’s core base of subscribers, the elderly, individuals with chronic conditions, and other at risk populations have been reported to be the most vulnerable to extreme heat related illness,” the company said.

Tunstall Americas operates its own monitoring centers in New York and Rhode Island. 

A voice on the PERS market

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Voice activation has been an interesting topic that I’ve seen coming up more frequently when I hear about PERS—most recently when I spoke with Ritch Haselden, VP of sales at Essence Group, this week about Essence’s upcoming products, and what it takes to include voice activation. 

One of the things he highlighted in the company’s product roadmap is Essence’s VPD, and Haselden told me a lot about what went in to setting up voice capabilities in the company's VPD—standing for Voice Panic Detector. "The VPDwill be available for purchase this summer and is expected in the next few weeks," Haselden said.

“What that’ll allow somebody to do is be able to activate a pendant by saying a particular phrase of a particular series of words,” he said. The product is always listening for a particular phrase, he said, and when it hears that phrase it would act like a button press on the PERS unit.

Haselden said that, further on down the road, Essence could use voice activation to open up two-way dialogue with the central station.

The company has been testing the phrase “Call 911,” Haselden said. The process of picking a phrase to test was intensive, he said, making sure that it wasn’t common enough to be said in everyday conversation or on the television, but still easy to remember.

Testing involved a large variety of different people, saying the test phrase, “Call 911,” in a variety of pitches. “We’ve been testing in all kinds of different scenarios to make sure that we’re really getting down to a really quality product that provides a low rate of false alarms,” he said.

Essence would consider customized phrases for different companies if they requested such, Hasleden said, “Our process internally is we would at least test that phrase, but we’re definitely going to provide a lot of feedback and information on: Is that a phrase that (A) people can remember, (B) that people can actually articulate well, and (C) does the technology differentiate the words well enough so that it provides a solid response.” 

Report: More monitoring for mHealth devices

Perceptions about PERS users are something to overcome
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07/20/2016

LONDON—The market for monitored mHealth devices is on the rise globally from 2016 to 2021, and North America will be the largest market in the forecast period.

Apple Watch SOS and mPERS: Apples and oranges?

PERS execs compare features, assess competition
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07/14/2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—On first inspection, the Apple Watch’s newly announced ‘SOS’ feature may seem similar to an mPERS device, but PERS experts who spoke to Security Systems News said comparing an Apple Watch with an mPERS device is like comparing apples and oranges.

Connect America expands in Kansas

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Connect America, a multi-channel PERS and home medical distribution company based here, is growing its market presence in the central U.S. with its recent acquisition of Home Buddy, a Kansas based PERS and medical solution provider with about 4,000 subscribers.

“The goal is to grow that geography into Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa … to create a large regional base of operations for the business,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

Home Buddy has been in business for about 10 years, Brooks said. “It’s one of the largest providers of PERS in Kansas.”

While Home Buddy does not deal with alarm dealers, Connect America does, buying PERS accounts from a network of Alarm Dealers across the country, according to Brooks. “They’re a steady, reliable part of our business,” he said. Home Buddy distributes through “Medicaid-type agencies,” he said.

Discussions of the acquisition between the two companies started in late 2015, he said, and the deal closed in early May. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Connect America intends to keep the Home Buddy name, Brooks said, because its well known in the area and has existing contracts under that name.

Brooks said that his main goal with the company is building its healthcare division. “We grow organically, we have a sales force nationally, and they are locally meeting people to obtain referrals for our medical alerts,” he said.

Catalyst offers advice to prospective PERS dealers

Affiliated Monitoring’s new conference gives attendees ideas for starting or bettering a PERS business
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06/14/2016

NAPLES, Fla.—Attendees at Affiliated Monitoring’s Catalyst conference walked away with advice on how to start or advance a PERS business, such as devoting resources specifically to PERS sales and marketing and understanding which technology to sell.

NXT-ID to buy LogicMark

O’Connor: Biometrics have a place in PERS
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05/25/2016

NAPLES, Fla.—NXT-ID, a biometric sensor company, has agreed to acquire PERS manufacturer LogicMark for $20 million. NXT-ID’s expertise in biometrics and miniaturization will help LogicMark develop PERS solutions, LogicMark president Kevin O’Connor said.

News from Affiliated's Catalyst

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thursday, Day 2

This morning I got to speak with Ron Davis, president of Davis Group, and Adam Matlin, COO of Think Protection and one of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2015.

The first session was presented by Michele Shuster, founding partner at MacMurray Petersen & Shuster, “So You Want to Work with a Telemarketer: 7 Essential Tips.” Regulations around telemarketing are a serious issue, and carry with it large detriments to a company’s bottom line. Avoid assisting and facilitating liability, she said; "You are as responsible for your marketers as if you were doing it yourself." Tips included making sure that telemarketing scripts are compliant with both federal and state regulations and being aware of riskier practices like calling or texting a cellphone or using pre-recorded messages.

“Mobile Mania: Catch the Wave of Mobile PERS,” the day’s second session featured panelists Matt Campbell, Nortek Security and Control SVP of sales and business development, and Jake Chandler, co-founder of LiveFree Emergency Response. The session was moderated by Jesse Rivest, Regional sales manager for Affiliated Monitoring and an SSN “20 under 40” from the Class of 2013.

When Rivest asked about the biggest points to selling mPERS. Chandler said that it’s water resistant, ready for future communications with 3G, and that it can be strapped to the wrist. Campbell said that “really defining the user as someone who's active," helps, along with fall detection technology.

The battery life isn’t a challenge, Campbell said, because now users are more conditioned to know that they have to charge it at night. Chandler said that it’s important to know when a user is best suited for a PERS instead of a mobile PERS. “A lot of seniors should not have mobile PERS," Chandler said, because there are some customers that do not have the capability to remember to charge the system every night.

In the last session, “Executive Spotlight: How I Grew a Multi-Channel PERS Company,” Ritch Haselden, vice president of sales for Essence USA, talked about best practices for developing a PERS business. Before working for Essence, Haselden was with ResponseLink, PERS provider in the U.S., in charge of the company’s revenue creation.

Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim asked Haselden about who the most important first hires for a PERS company would be, “I would have a very strong operational person and a strong marketing person.”

He stressed the importance of finding a person who is in contact with seniors who were potential customers, and believed the system could help them. Haselden said he would take the effort of "Making sure that we knew that they cared about the customer."

Haselden also advised spending time “looking at referrals that were coming in and where they were coming from."

I thought it was a very informative conference, with lots of knowledgeable people in the PERS side of the industry. Catalyst will be in Florida again next year, also in May. It’ll be a special one, Affiliated founder Stanley Oppenheim said, as it will coincide with Affiliated’s 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, Day 1

The first day started off well for me, I got to have breakfast with Keith Jentoft, who is now part of the integration team at Honeywell following the company's acquisition of RSI, and David Stang, founder and president of Stang Capital Alliance. 

Zydor, as the event's emcee, started by giving an overview of the conference, saying that it is now "the largest PERS conference ever." He also underlined the value of networking at Catalyst, "We believe that the relationships that you create over the next few days are just as important as the content." Zydor backed this up by having each attendee in the room introduce themselves.

Zydor then handed the microphone to Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim, who projected a bright future for the PERS industry. He said that in 2030, just 14 years away, there will be 72 million people in the 65+ demographic, and these new seniors might be more tech savvy, given the current 30 percent prevalence of smartphones in the age group. He addressed mPERS. which has an average sign up age of 78, compared to traditional PERS' average age of sign up at 81. "'That is a meaningful reduction in years," he said. "Mobile PERS are bringing in younger users that will stay with us longer."

Oppenheim then announcce CareAlert priority group chat, a new offering exclusive for Affiliated dealers. When a PERS user activates their system, Affiliated's monitoing center sends out a text message to as many as four family or friends of the user. The text message contains a link that opens a group chat between the recipients. The recipeients can then discuss the user's condition, and even hit the 'On My Way' button, to let the other friends or family members know theyr'e headed to check on the user. This software was developed entirely in-house. 

The first session was the conference's first executive spotlight, "The Complete Guide to Building a PERS Company," featuring Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian. He said he focuses on culture and picking the right people. "When you go through the wrong people, you learn how to hire the right people," he said. 

He also spoke about hiring Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, as the company's spokesperson. Gross said that Henderson had some apprehension, not wanting to be portrayed "on the floor crawling around in bad shape." Gross said this was perfect, Medical Guardian wanted to let customers know that not ever PERS user is in failing health.

The second session was "Benchmarking: Is Your Sales Technology Holding You Back?" with Moderator: Matt Solomon, Affiliated director of software solutions, and panelists Nick Delis, Five9 regional VP enterprise sales, and Michael Marks, Perennial Software, co-founder. Solomon introduced the session by saying, "You can't be a successful sales and marketing organization if you don't have the right tools." With phone calls as such a big part of the sales and marketing job, companies need to monitor that activity, and that's one of the things that Five9's cloud-based software does. Marks said that CRM is made up of two components, the initial sales and then keeping the customers happy. Perennial's offerings include AlarmBiller and SedonaOffice.  

For the keynote presentation, "Managing in the Majors: Running a Big League Team," Bobby Valentine, a former professional baseball player and manager, got onstage to discuss his views on forming a team. Valentine first addressed the idea of luck and the role that plays, "If we all think it's about us ... I think we're making a mistake." Being in the moment is crucial, and that means that means to enjoy what you're doing now because you don't know what's going to happen later." And respect is key, "Teams that win understand respect, and the individuals usually respect themselves, respect the competition, and respect their teammates."

Tuesday night

I arrived this afternoon in Naples, Fla., to attend Affiliated's new PERS conference Catalyst, focused on the sales and marketing of PERS systems. The event began with a nice reception, where I got to catch up with Affiliated's managing director Mike Zydor and president Stanley Oppenheim. It's interest to see people gathered from all sections of the industry; PERS manufacturers, PERS dealers, those involved in insurance around the industry, and professionals from the banking world.

I met a lot of people tonight, but want to highlight a few. I enjoyed meeting Cathy Rempel, president of the California Alarm Association. It was nice seeing Yaniv Amir, president for Essence USA—which recently won an ESX Innovation Award. I had a great conversation with Chris Masse, technical sales manager, US corporate accounts for Tyco Security Products. He told me about how the smart home works well for a PERS user, such as automating lights to help users that have difficulty moving. I also got the chance to speak to Scot McGehee, director of operations for Climax. 

Check back here for daily updates on the conference.

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