Lydia, UCC reflect on deal one year after acquisition

Positive environment following acquisition, plans for development into 2017
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Monday, January 16, 2017

SAN ANTONIO—In January 2016, Lydia Security Monitoring acquired wholesale monitoring center UCC based here. One year after the acquisition, dust is settling and UCC is improving its operations while maintaining its core staff.

“In terms of our growth at the company, we’re very satisfied with 2016. We finished the year in 2016 very strong, with our sales team closing several fairly large deals—defined as people with at least 1,500 or more accounts transferring into us,” Jim McMullen, president and COO of Lydia as well as COPS Monitoring—another of Lydia's brands, told Security Systems News.

“Looking forward into 2017, we will be adding a second location—or back-center—to UCC. … That should be completed sometime by [the end of the second quarter],” McMullen said.

The back-up center, housing the operators, would be independent to UCC, but the back end support could be co-located with one of COPS’ centers, according to McMullen. He added that COPS’ Las Vegas facility is a possibility for the colocation.

McMullen has high hopes for UCC. “I’d like to see UCC grow and actually meet up with COPS at some point, on the number of accounts that they have and they service, and I think they can,” he said. COPS monitoring has about 2 million accounts currently, UCC monitors for around 235,000.

Lydia and COPS have shared some insights and business efficiencies that have helped UCC, Mark Matlock, SVP of UCC, told SSN.

“They’ve given us liberty to basically hire at will, and we’ve hired … [more than 40] new dispatchers,” Matlock said. “In November, we had the best response time in the history of our company. I think that’s something that speaks very well for Lydia and the effect that they’ve had on our company.”

McMullen said that COPS and UCC will be holding joint management retreats in 2017.

“Here we are a year later, and 100 percent of the management team is still in place at UCC—that is very rare after an acquisition,” Matlock said.

McMullen said that UCC’s facility could improve over the next year, such as in the lunchroom areas or offices. “We have space to expand and we’re intending to make investments in doing that,” he said.

“They’ve done a good job of maintaining our culture, they’ve treated out employees very well, and they’ve kept us as a separate brand with our own identity. To the known world, we are still UCC, operating as UCC, and doing what we’ve always done,” Matlock said.

UCC and COPS Monitoring exhibited as separate companies at 2016 trade shows following the acquisition, Matlock said, and they will again in 2017. Each brand appeals to different dealers, which allows Lydia Security Monitoring to capture more of the market, he continued.

One notable aspect to UCC’s culture is its annual dealer event, which this past year included networking around golfing and a dove hunt, which Lydia and COPS team members attended. “It was an experience—we had about 200 people there at the dove hunt,” said McMullen, who had attended. “The thing that got my attention the most was everyone was so open and sharing about what they were doing within their company. … Everybody is trying to help everybody else grow.”

Also in 2016, UCC began a partnership with marketing firm MyStudio Pros, shortly after ISC West. The firm has been educating dealers on options for website design, vehicle branding and marketing campaigns, such as with social media. “It’s had a big impact on our dealers,” Matlock said.

MyStudio Pros complements UCC’s other efforts in supporting dealers. “One of the things that we’re hanging our hat on as a differentiator is the hands on support that we provide to dealers to help them grow their companies, control attrition and operate more efficiently.”

Matlock said that Lydia has also proved to be a good resource. “Just having the executives at Lydia has been a blessing, in that we have more … proven leaders to bounce ideas off of, and that’s been very positive—especially with employee recruiting,” he said.