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ADT growing its commercial business

ADT growing its commercial business Company's Owners Club brings top integrator talent together to lead the charge

BOCA RATON, Fla.—ADT is making some noise in the commercial space, where it is now doing approximately a billion dollars in business in comparison to the company's multi-billion-dollar residential security business it has become synonymous with.

“We are bigger in commercial than people realize,” Christopher BenVau, SVP, Enterprise Solutions, ADT, told Security Systems News. “Our goal is to double that business on the commercial side in the next few years.”

ADT's recent acquisition of Aronson Security Group—a leading national systems integration company based in Renton, Wash.—is a giant leap toward that goal and a significant milestone in the company's strategy to grow its commercial business by acquiring commercial system integration talent across the U.S.

“The deal with ASG, which was the biggest deal so far, was one that many people did not see coming—ASG teaming with a big national like ADT?” said BenVau. “But I think this really shows how committed we are here, as we were at Protection 1, to build our commercial brand and reputation. We are really striving to bring back that full-service security company.”

Phil Aronson, president, Aronson Security Group, told SSN, “What we heard from ADT was a great story of growth and their vision of growing the commercial business. We have the opportunity to build a highly differentiated, unique and valuable security risk management services category and business. When all the pieces come together—strategic risk management, integration services and infrastructure services leveraging ADT's NOC and SOC—the industry will have a holistic approach to the problems that risk, resilience and security leaders will be facing now and in the future.”

BenVau pointed out that acquiring a systems integrator of ASG's caliber bolsters ADT's already strong stable of commercial integration companies that it has acquired since 2012 when it began its strategy to grow its commercial business under Tim Whall's leadership.

“Phil's vision, one that he has had for over a decade, is to change this industry, and he built this model of risk management that is different and that is what we found intriguing,” BenVau explained. “We already have had discussions with Phil and our entire national accounts leadership team looking at how we can take what ASG is doing and use that to grow our commercial business nationally.”

Growing through acquisition

As evidenced by the ASG deal, ADT is not looking to gobble up top-flight commercial integration companies and divest them of what got them there in the first place.

“It really is a different strategy,” said BenVau. “A lot of times when companies are acquiring, they are looking to fold that business into their model, but that is not our play at all. We have found management teams that are the best of breed at what they do, and we have taken their approach and done a reverse integration, taking that business process and bringing that to ADT. That is the difference.”

Jay Linton, VP of Strategic Alliances and Acquisitions for ADT, provides perspective, as his company, Camtronic Security Integration, was the first acquisition on the commercial side back in 2012.

“It has been a good fit for us,” Linton told SSN. “We were a niche player, a small company, a $10 million company; this year, six years into it, we have done just shy of $40 million, so we have had exponential growth over the last six years. And with RMR, we were doing zero RMR back in 2012 and this year we did $200,000 in RMR. That is business that I would never have had the opportunity to get before.”

Linton now helps with M&A for ADT because he has “been on that side of the table and can tell them all of the good and the bad, and they can see that six years later I am still here and guys from my leadership team are still here generating four times the revenue we used to,” said Linton. “And all of our employees are still with us to this day, and some have gone on to leadership roles here.”

ADT's VP of Integration Solutions, Ken Schafenberg, whose company Integration Logistics was the second commercial company acquired back in 2012, said that ADT gave him the backing and resources to be able to handle all of the needs of the big national accounts he could only partially provide service for before the buy.

“We were experiencing double-digit growth but we were starting to outstrip our resources as we were growing,” said Schafenberg, who noted that a major factor in selling was the match he saw culturally. “We came on board and became the foundation of what is now the Integrated Solutions Business, which we've been growing organically and through acquisition, and been able to offer new and exciting services like our managed services group.”

Mark Milam, VP, MSE, whose company was acquired in 2017, said that joining ADT has allowed him to take his 25-year-old business to that next level. “We are already doing work nationally,” Milam told SSN. “And we have already been exposed to a higher level of opportunity and it will bring so much more to my people, my employees, which is really important to me and other owners here. Now that we have this support structure behind us we, can go after jobs that we couldn't maybe go after before.”

Owners Club

ADT had its first Owners Club meeting at ISC West in 2017 and continued with the tradition this year, bringing the owners of the acquired companies together to socialize, bond and talk about the path forward as ADT grows its commercial presence nationally under their guidance.

“We have a lot of bright guys here and a lot of talent who went out and built their companies up, so it is like a fraternity and we can share ideas and pick each other's brains, build camaraderie,” said Linton. “The synergies we bring to the table and the mind-melding that goes on is what makes this so great.”

The Owners Club concept—taking the combined talents of these companies to help ADT grow commercially—“is brilliant,” Milam agreed. “It is a whole different mentality and we bring our processes and talents here, and having the other owners here to partner up with is a great strategy.”

Aronson noted, “The team atmosphere has been great. Everyone that we have met is high quality and culturally wanting to do things right and be client focused. Aligning those strengths and taking the best of everyone of us to grow this is a unique way to do this.”

Schafenberg added, “This concept of keeping the owners on has turned into something much bigger than we even thought it could be.”

ADT Owners Club photo caption: (Back row, left to right): Joe Nuccio, president, Dealer Operations; Robert McDonald, district manager, Vintage; Ken Schafenberg, VP, Integration Solutions; Les Paul Vernon, VP, Business Development; Phil Aronson, president, Aronson Security Group; Bobby Bull, VP, CCI; Dan Rose, VP, Business Processes & Financial Analysis. (Front row, left to right): Jim Finley, national account manager, Camtronic; Andy Schwartz, VP & GM, Protec; Greg Burns, VP, Gaston Security; Christopher BenVau, SVP, Enterprise Solutions; Mark Milam, VP, MSE; Jay Linton, VP, Strategic Alliances and Acquisitions; Ron Worman, principal, The Sage Group.


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