Ackerman launches five-year plan

The Atlanta-based super-regional moved outside of Georgia for first time in 2010, plans to do it again within the year.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ATLANTA—Ackerman Security Systems has a new president, plans to expand to a new market within about a year, and has revealed an ambitious new growth plan that calls for doubling its revenue over the next five years.

The super-regional, based here, announced on Tuesday that Jim Callahan, the company’s COO since 2009, is now president of Ackerman. He joined the company 14 years ago as VP of sales.

The goal of doubling its revenue by the end of 2016 is “a pretty aggressive plan,“ Callahan told Security Systems News. But he noted that the company just finished “a five-year plan where that’s exactly what we did from 2007 to 2011.”

In 2007, the company had 40,000 accounts and $837,007 in RMR. Today, Callahan said, the company has about 88,000 accounts and “in April, we hit the $2 million RMR mark.”

Part of that growth is due to Ackerman opening an office in the Washington, D.C., area in May 2010. That Beltsville, Md., office marked the first time that the company established a bricks-and-mortar presence outside Atlanta since Ackerman was founded in 1967.

“We’re really happy with the performance of that [Washington] branch because at the two-year mark we have about 9,000 accounts,” Callahan said.

He said the company expects to expand to new markets over the next five years, opening at least one new office as early as the middle of next year.

Callahan declined to say where the new location might be at this point. “We’ve got about five cities we’re looking at. As to which one will be next, we haven’t made a final decision,” he said.

Ackerman’s growth so far has been primarily organic and Callahan said the new five-year plan also is based on internal growth. However, he added, “that is not to say we would not consider the right acquisition at the right time, so we’re looking into those aspects of growth as well.”

Ackerman in a news release said it has 279 employees, 244 in Atlanta and 35 in the Beltsville branch and that it’s the fifth-largest home security company in the Washington metro area.

In Atlanta, the company moved its corporate office and monitoring center into a new 32,000-square-foot headquarters building last year.

Callahan told SSN that his promotion to president “is part of a well-organized succession plan.” He was part of a group participating in a management buyout of the company in 2005.

The group involved the five current principals of Ackerman: Callahan; Bruce Turry, CEO; Jeff Cohen, CFO; Bill Rawlings, director of operations; and Mike Sandes, VP of the company’s commercial division.

Turry held the title of both CEO and president until Callahan’s recent appointment.

Callahan still will be involved in the company’s day-to-day operations, he said, but also “I’ll be involved more with the financial and banking matters of the company as well as more intimately involved with the board as it relates to strategic planning and direction for the company.”
 
To what does he attribute the company’s tremendous growth?

Callahan replied, “A lot of companies in the recession had pulled back with their marketing budgets. We didn't pull back; we actually increased the marketing budget, which I think has been a tremendous help. I do believe ours is an industry that, when times are bad, our services are more in need, not less.”

Will Ackerman continue to grow over the next five years?

Callahan is confident it will. “We’ve done such a great job with the marketing campaigns and the brand is so well known now that there’s little anyone can do to unseat us, as much as they want to,” he said.