Comtronics switches monitored accounts to NMC

Company refocuses on offering new technologies; two-way voice, video verification
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Monday, November 14, 2016

JACKSON, Mich.—Earlier this year, Comtronics decided to move its monitored accounts to National Monitoring Center, based in Lake Forest, Calif. Previously, Comtronics operated its own UL-listed, CSAA Five Diamond central station for the past 48 years.

“The industry’s just moving so fast—I think you’re going to see more and more alarm companies make the decision we have … just because it’s harder to do it all and do it all great,” John Campau, Comtronics’ president and CEO, told Security Systems News.

“You have so much more strength and power when you partner with a [wholesale central station] like we did,” John Wells, Comtronics’ operations manager, told SSN. “We completed that in May of this year. That was a huge initiative for us. It was about a year in design and planning and choosing the right company to partner with.”

Wells added that this change allowed the company to focus on new technologies like incorporating video verification platform I-View Now into its offerings. “We’ve been looking at I-View Now for a couple of years,” Wells said, and the company implemented I-View Now in October, after testing and deploying it for the past four months.

Comtronics has about 55 employees following a March 2014 spin-off of its cellular business, Campau said, which now operates as an independent company with 13 stores under the brand Cellular & More. “We wanted to really focus on security here at Comtronics, because people knew us for both,” Campau said.

Wells said that the company was also excited to bring on two-way voice offerings shortly after the transition to NMC. Comtronics rolled out the service in May, Wells said.

Comtronics quickly put I-View Now into its sister wireless stores. “If we were going to offer I-View Now, and install this [for] our customers, then it had to go into our own locations that we owned. So, those were actually the first accounts that we onboarded; they already had the latest technology from Honeywell in regard to IP cameras and alarm systems,” Wells said.

One of the wireless stores had a break-in in late October and the video verification led to a quick and effective response. Wells said the company saw a five-times faster response, compared with a non-video verified burglary one of Wireless & More’s stores had earlier in the year. Comtronics shared the story of this event and the video with attendees at Honeywell’s 2016 CONNECT conference.

“What’s really special, … a game changing separator for I-View Now is the fact that we’re sending this information right to the end user,” Campau said, adding that he and Wells received text messages and video relating to the Cellular & More break in. “We were watching it live … right on our phone, at 4:30 in the morning.”

Wells added, “This service keeps the customer more involved, and as a result they’re an a lot stickier customer.”

Wells and Campau pointed to the issue of false alarms and the need for technologies like I-View Now. “This alarm verification technology is absolutely going to be here forever, because it costs way too much to send police on a wild goose chase for a false alarm,” Campau said. Campau also lauded I-View Now’s ability to have end users cancel false alarms from the app as another key false alarm reduction tool.

Campau said he’s interested in home automation technologies and the way in which the two industries Comtronics has worked in have come together. “We’re in the cellular phone business, and we’re in the alarm business, and the two industries have come together now—finally—where we can sell you the phone and put all this technology on your phone,” said Campau. “It’s fascinating—I’ve been doing this my whole life and I am more inspired today than I have ever been in my career.”

Comtronics has also been leveraging its cellular stores to promote its DIY and smart home offerings; the company presented on this at Honeywell CONNECT this year as well.

The company, founded in 1958, has more than 5,000 accounts across 20 different states, with a 50-50 split between residential and commercial customers. “Our strong vertical is in the bank industry,” Campau said, adding that Comtronics first entered the banking sector in 1999. There are also applications for I-View Now in the banking space, he said.