Central station vet gets TriStar off the ground

The California-based central, in operation for barely a year, has a leader at the helm who’s familiar with the West Coast market
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CORONA, Calif.—TriStar Monitoring, based here, may be a newcomer to the central station space, but the company’s president and founder, Tim LeBlanc, is anything but. LeBlanc, who went live with the company in February 2013, is a 38-year veteran of the industry who spent 18 years at Huntington Beach, Calif.-based General Monitoring Services, where he served as president until 2012.

With a tenure of that length, starting a business in the security industry becomes far less of challenge, LeBlanc told Security Systems News. “This industry is all about relationships and friendships,” he said. “I’ve got people I do business with today that I did business with 35 years ago, and it’s because they trust you.”

The relationships LeBlanc has fostered over the years seem to be paying off at TriStar. The fledgling central station, which is UL-listed, has an account base 20,000 strong, with dealers spread around California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Nevada.

The early returns are strong for a company just over a year old, but especially impressive in view of the fact that TriStar’s lone marketing efforts have consisted of “a couple of email blasts” and word of mouth, LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc sees the region is a fertile market, albeit a competitive one that’s currently in flux. Rapid Response just built its second central station, which is also in Corona, Calif., and Security Partners just made its presence felt in the region with a December 2013 acquisition of Mace Central Station, based in Anaheim. “It’s a very ripe market out here right now,” LeBlanc said.

Michael Joseph, who manages Security Partners’ recently acquired central in nearby Anaheim, agrees. To be sure, part of the market’s attraction is the sheer size of Los Angeles and the high concentration of dealers. But having a central station in the orbit of Greater L.A. is also about being able to form stronger connections with dealers. “It’s more about having that regional ability to provide more personal levels of service,” Joseph said. “That’s why we’re committed to remaining here.”

LeBlanc says he’s placing an onus on customer support, and one major facet of that involves giving dealers control of their data, as opposed to having the central station take ownership of it. That, he said, ensures dealers are not beholden to a central station they’re unsatisfied with. To do otherwise, LeBlanc pointed out, greatly limits their business flexibility.

“It’s telling the dealer, ‘Okay, you want to move, that’s fine, but you’re not going to get any help from us,’” he said. “It's basically saying, ‘We’re going to make it as difficult as possible for you to relocate to another central station.’”