American Alarm expands reach in Rhode Island

It strengthens its presence in the state by acquiring a family-owned company
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ARLINGTON, Mass.—American Alarm and Communications, based here, announced this week that it has acquired P&J Alarm of West Greenwich, R.I., adding more than 1,000 residential and commercial accounts.

P&J Alarm will merge its operations with Electronic Alarms in Warwick, R.I., which American Alarm purchased last year and considers its “flagship” company in the state.

American Alarm, a security and life safety company founded in 1971, has had a presence in Rhode Island for more than 20 years—it bought a Massachusetts alarm company in the early 1990s that had numerous Rhode Island customers. But its January 2012 purchase of Electronic Alarms and Phoenix Fire Alarm & Communications marked the first time American Alarm had acquired in that state.

The acquisition of P&J now builds on the company’s Rhode Island presence, American Alarm President Wells Sampson told Security Systems News. “It’s a very close-knit market,” he said of the small state where American Alarm serves customers statewide.

Sampson declined to provide specifics of the deal but said his company paid “top dollar” because the P&J accounts were so good.

“The customers were well cared for and long-term customers, so it was a slow-grown, carefully built company. … It’s worth it to us to get that kind of customer base,” he said.

The accounts are predominantly residential, he said.

P&J Alarm was founded 35 years ago by Judy and Paul Santa Sr., according to an American Alarm news release. After her husband died in 1993, Judy Santa ran the company and was joined in the business by their son, Paul Santa Jr.

“This was the right time for me and our company to set a new course for the future,” Judy Santa said in a prepared statement. “By joining the American Alarm group, our customers will see the benefits of being served by a larger team, but will retain the personalized touch of a local, family business, which was very important to me.”

Sampson said that many of P&J’s customers are longtime friends and colleagues of the Santa family, so they were anxious to choose a company that would give “as good service if not better.”

Sampson said American Alarm stands out for its concentration on personalized service and has “technologies that will make the customer experience even better.” He said those include customers being able to make direct debit and credit card payments and being able to control their security systems with their smartphones.

P&J had three employees, including Judy Santa and her son, and all will be kept on, Sampson said.

According to its news release, American Alarm is one of New England’s leading security systems integration firms, serving more than 19,000 residential, commercial and public-sector customers in 13 states. Its headquarters and central station are here and it has offices in Worcester, Mass., Randolph, Mass., Windham, N.H., and Warwick, R.I. The company has about 195 employees.

Sampson said that 2012 was “definitely a record year in just about every measure” for the company. RMR and top-line revenue increased because of acquisitions and organic growth, and the company added sales staff, he said.

Last year at this time, Sampson said annual revenues were running between $26 million and $27 million. But in 2013, he said, “we’re running at about a $29 million pace for the fiscal year ending June 30,” and he’s hopeful revenues may hit $30 million this year.

Sampson said the company will continue to look for organic growth and acquisitions in 2013, and “continue our extra effort on the customer service experience.” He said that American Alarm focuses on “really taking care of people because they do have lots of choices” in today’s competitive marketplace.