B Safe acquires five in 2012 and looks to add even more in 2013

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WILMINGTON, Del.—B Safe Security, a regional security and fire alarm company based here, made five acquisitions in 2012 that represented about $85,000 in RMR and more than doubled the company’s customer base. B Safe also has similar growth plans for this year.

“We anticipate growing at least this much or more for 2013,” Philip Gardner, company president and founder, told Security Systems News.

He said B Safe would probably make “at least six acquisitions” this year. And while Gardner declined to discuss specific figures, he said he expects revenues to be up 25 percent. “The first two months have been great months and that’s what we’re targeting this year,” Gardner said.

B Safe is a 35-year-old company that serves Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Gardner said the five acquisitions in 2012 involved relatively small companies. Accredited Security Systems of Newtown Square, Pa., and B-Com Security of Cherry Hill, N.J., were acquired in December; Precision Alarms Systems of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was acquired in July; Kwick Alarm of Franklinville, N.J., was acquired in March; and Roseland Security Systems of Belmar, N.J., was acquired in January.

The acquisitions added about 3,500 customers to B Safe, bringing its total to more than 6,500, Gardner said. He estimated the customers are about 70 percent residential. The additions were all within a 90-mile radius of B Safe’s Wilmington office, an area where the company prefers to operate because it provides “depth,” he said.

For example, Gardner said, “It gives us a critical mass. … I think we’ve doubled the number of customers we have in the south Jersey area in the last three years, and it gives us a much better cost basis. We can be much more efficient in our costs and our economies of scale as far as servicing.” B Safe has a second office in Pittman, N.J.

Gardner said the acquisitions were all essentially “mom-and-pop” owner-operated companies in which the owners were getting older and wanted to do other things in life. B Safe didn’t acquire any employees to add to its current 35, but some of the owners elected to work with B Safe temporarily during the transitions, Gardner said.

He declined to discuss terms but said B Safe, which is financed by CapitalSource, “paid fair market value” for the companies’ high-quality, loyal customers.

“They fall right into the type of customer B Safe is looking for,” Gardner said.

He said B Safe will be able to provide customers with features like remote services that their previous smaller providers hadn’t yet gotten around to offering.

“We’re finding they’re very receptive to it,” Gardner said. “Everybody out there is getting blasted with commercials [about home automation] from Verizon and Comcast and AT&T.”

He said the acquisitions B Safe hopes to make in 2013 also would be in the 90-mile radius around its headquarters. “We have no reason we’d want to venture out of this area. We do a great job of servicing this geographic area and my technicians on the road know the territories and know the customers,” Gardner said.

He said the goal is slow but steady growth. “We want to grow at a realistic rate and just take it as it comes,” he said.