Fired AlarmForce exec launches new business

Joel Matlin’s new marketing firm will cater to security companies, among others
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TORONTO—Joel Matlin, the recently ousted CEO and founder of AlarmForce Industries, launched his own marketing business this week to serve security companies and other clients.

“It’s exciting,” Matlin told Security Systems News. “And bear in mind, of course, I only have a one year non-compete [agreement with AlarmForce], so you can park that wherever you want.”

He said Matlin Creative, the new marketing firm run by Matlin and his son, Adam, who also was fired from AlarmForce this summer, was officially launched on Dec. 2.

“Security companies will be clients of ours but not direct competitors of my former company because of my non-compete,” Matlin said.

Matlin also said he and his son plan to try for seats on AlarmForce’s board in April when that company—which is based here and is one of Canada’s largest security companies—holds its annual meeting.

Matlin founded AlarmForce, which also does business in the United States, 25 years ago. Matlin was president and CEO but was abruptly fired in July after a unanimous vote by the company’s board.

Matlin, 65, is now suing the company for more than $11.3 million, contending he was wrongfully dismissed and suggesting age discrimination was a reason. 

Matlin has told SSN that his termination was the result of “a mutiny created by my CFO, Anthony Pizzonia,” who is now interim CEO and president of AlarmForce. The company has called Matlin’s allegations “erroneous” and “inflammatory” and said it will defend itself against his lawsuit.

Matlin had also complained to SSN that AlarmForce’s board did not appreciate the importance of marketing. “I think certainly now you have the financial guys running the company, certainly not the marketing guys,” he said at the time of his firing.

Now, at his new marketing firm, Matlin can not only draw on the experience of his son, who Matlin said was a key player on AlarmForce’s marketing team, but his own. “I have enormous experience with marketing, every form of marketing,” Matlin told SSN.

He said he gleaned that knowledge from his 43 years in the security industry as the founder of two security companies. He founded Frisco Bay Industries in 1970 and after selling it to his partner, started AlarmForce in 1988.

At AlarmForce, Matlin became well known to television and radio audiences in Canada as a pitchman for that company. In fact, he complained in his lawsuit, filed in September in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, that AlarmForce after his ouster continued to run television and radio ads using his image without his permission.

He’ll be featured on radio and TV to promote his new business, Matlin said.

After his firing, Matlin said he was planning a legal maneuver called a proxy vote to replace the AlarmForce board that fired him. Now, however, Matlin said he and his son will try for seats on the board next spring. He told SSN that “putting our names forward on the ticket … is a lot less expensive and it’s more efficient.”

Does the pair have the support of investors?

“We’ll have to find that out,” Matlin said. “I’m optimistic, but you never know until all the votes are calculated.”

One AlarmForce board member recently resigned as of Nov. 29. The company said in news release that Richard Boxer stepped down “to devote time to other commitments.”

Matlin said he doesn’t know why Boxer left the board so declined to comment.

Matlin’s firing came shortly after AlarmForce completed a one-year strategic review that had included exploring a possible sale. Some analysts speculated at the time that Matlin was ousted because the company did not succeed in finding a buyer, according to a Toronto Star newspaper story.

But Matlin told SSN, “I think they tried to make me the scapegoat. That’s my opinion.”

Under Matlin, publicly traded AlarmForce was very healthy, with no debt, current annual revenues of about $50 million and market capitalization of more than $118 million, according to his lawsuit.