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Rx for former Smith and Wesson dealers?

Rx for former Smith and Wesson dealers? NationWide readies new �Security Doctors� program

FREEPORT, N.Y.—As members of the defunct Smith & Wesson Security Services dealer program face an April 30 deadline to strip away that gun manufacturer's name from all their security products, a substitute dealer program is taking shape: Security Doctors Alarm Services.

NationWide Digital Monitoring Co., which previously ran the Smith & Wesson dealer program, should have its Security Doctors dealer program fully up and running by June 1, according to Aaron Wahrsager, NationWide president.

Smith & Wesson terminated its agreement with NationWide on March 31, and dealers have until the end of this month to remove the Smith & Wesson branding from all marketing materials, web sites, uniforms, trucks and lawn signs.

About 30 of the 70 former Smith & Wesson dealers plan to join the new program, Wahrsager told Security Systems News.

Attempts to find dealers who plan to join the new program and contact them for comment were not successful by SSN's deadline.

However, two former Smith & Wesson dealers told SSN on April 27 that they will not join the new program.

Ed Berry, operations manager for Smith & Wesson Security Services E.D.S. in Clermont, Fla., told SSN that he doesn't know of any other dealers who plan to sign up, and he doesn't want to have any future dealings with NationWide.

Berry has said E.D.S. was the first dealer in Florida to sign with NationWide's Smith & Wesson program about two years ago.

But he and other dealers have told SSN that they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars no longer being able to use their products branded with the Smith & Wesson name. They are angry at NationWide for short notice of the termination of the Smith & Wesson program and for what they say was a lack of transparency about the situation.

Wahrsager told SSN that NationWide was “blindsided like everyone else” about the ending of the licensing agreement and informed dealers as soon it could.

Wahrsager said Security Doctors—whose new web site urges customers to “schedule a house call today”—will be more cost effective for dealers than the Smith & Wesson program. He said monitoring prices will be 15 percent to 20 percent cheaper, and “the lawn signs, the decals, all that stuff, the price will be reduced to reflect the removal of the royalties and will make it just that much more enticing for dealers to come on board.”

Wahrsager contends that the dealers' financial losses are mainly for lawn signs and decals and characterized them as in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands. Still, he said, “We'll do everything that we can to make it right for them,” in ways such as offering monitoring credit to cover some of the dealers' losses.

NationWide and Aaron Wahrsager are among defendants facing charges in a federal lawsuit filed in connection to a $17.5 million loan made by Bank of America to New York Merchants Protective Co., Inc. (NYMP), of which Wayne Wahrsager, Aaron's father, is a principal.

The lawsuit alleges that Wayne Wahrsager and NYMP transferred “a significant portion” of the assets of New York Merchants Protective Co. Inc. to NationWide to prevent Bank of America from collecting on the unpaid loan to NYMP.

Aaron and Wayne Wahrsager deny the allegations, which Aaron Wahrsager has termed “ridiculous.”

Aaron has stressed that NationWide is a separate company from NYMP.

While the lawsuit will cost money to defend, he said, it won't affect the financial stability of NationWide or the dealer program. “It's just kind of a nuisance that we have to deal with,” Aaron Wahrsager said.


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