ADS welcomes 2013 with new CEO, expanded credit and plan for growth

All the changes are part of a multiyear transition plan
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—ADS Security, based here, is starting 2013 with a new CEO, a plan for a new acquisition and a 60 percent increase in its line of credit.

John Cerasuolo, the company’s former COO who became CEO in December when Mel Mahler announced he was stepping down from that post and retiring, told Security Systems News that all those developments are not sudden. Instead, Cerasuolo said, they are “part of a transition plan that was put together and we just kind of methodically executed.”

The company has increased its line of credit with Bank of America from $25 million to $40 million. It’s the biggest expansion of ADS’s credit facility in recent years, said Cerasuolo, who also is president of the company.

“It’s a vote of confidence when a financial institution is willing to accept that kind of facility. Of course we’re happy about that and pleased to work with Bank of America,” he said. “I think it’s a reflection of the success of our strategy and the really good opportunities we’re finding in acquisitions today.”

ADS recently acquired a security company in Mississippi, giving it an entrance into that state. Cerasuolo has said that acquisition was part of the company’s strategy of making one acquisition per year.

In 2013, he said, ADS plans to acquire again, although probably not in a new state. “It will be an expansion, a new market but a new market in our existing state footprint,” Cerasuolo said. “At least that’s the expectation.” He declined to provide more details at this point.

The company has 15 branch offices and, in addition to Mississippi, serves six other states in the Southeast: Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

Cerasuolo said the company’s ongoing multi-year strategy has three parts: moving away from traditional burglary alarm services into home automation and managed video and access services; improving the productivity of its sales force and operating organization; and enhancing customer experience and loyalty.

Under his leadership, Cerasuolo said, “those three components will stay the same, and they support both organic growth and growth through acquisitions.” He said the expanded credit facility “is going to give us the opportunity to be aggressive in growing our footprint and expanding our account base.”

Cerasuolo retained the title of president but also became CEO in December when Mel Mahler stepped down as chairman of the board and CEO, announcing his retirement after 22 years with the company. Mahler is now chairman emeritus. Bill Hunt, president of Elmhurst Corporation, the majority partner of ADS, became board chairman.

Cerasuolo joined ADS in 2008, taking Mahler’s place when Mahler stepped aside as president to become CEO and chairman. Cerasuolo was new to the security industry. He formerly was was VP of AFL Network Services in Franklin, Tenn., part of AFL Telecommunications, an international provider of telecommunications products and services.

ADS has provided quality schooling, Cerasuolo said. “It’s been very helpful to me, being new to the industry, to have the opportunity to learn from Mel and all the other very, very experienced and talented people here at ADS over the past five years,” he said. “It’s not an easy thing to step into a role with that level of responsibility with no industry experience and I was only able to do that because of Mel and the great staff we have here.”

Cerasuolo said it has always been part of the transition plan that he would succeed Mel, and he’s prepared. “In large part I’m ready because I have such a wonderful team here that makes my job so easy,” he said. “I’ll be able to focus on the strategic stuff because we have such a good operating organization that runs so smoothly.”

Mahler said in a prepared statement Dec. 12 that “the company is in good hands” with Cerasuolo at the helm.