Matlin back in home security, as a consultant

The fired AlarmForce CEO’s noncompete has expired and he plans to help AlarmForce competitors with marketing
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TORONTO—The yearlong noncompete of ousted AlarmForce CEO Joel Matlin is at an end and now he’s back in the home security business—as a marketing consultant.

“I’m a free man, which is wonderful,” Matlin told Security Systems News. He was abruptly fired last July 23 from AlarmForce, based here, a company Matlin founded in 1988 and grew organically to be one of Canada’s largest security companies.

Now, Matlin Creative—the marketing company that he and his son, Adam Matlin, founded after both were fired last year from AlarmForce—is free to advise security companies, Matlin said.

“We’ve built up a very successful consulting business and we’re very excited about being able to open the doors now to the security [industry] and specifically, the home alarm industry,” Joel Matlin said. “So any company that’s either involved in [security] or has a history of being involved in it and wants to dramatically increase their business, or any new entries who want to come into the business, we will be available for consultation.”

Matlin said he personally has not been involved with advising any security companies in the past year because of the noncompete. But now Matlin Creative, which is based here and works with a variety of companies that use media to reach out to customers, can tap into his 40 years of security industry experience, Matlin said.

Will he be advising any alarm companies that compete with AlarmForce?

“Actually, I would expect to,” Matlin said. “Now, all bets are off and whatever I can do to help any companies in the home alarm space, we’re going to do our best. And if it results in competing with AlarmForce, well, that’s a great challenge. I look forward to it.”

AlarmForce also does business in the United States and Matlin said he expects Matlin Creative to have U.S. clients.

“We have tremendous expertise in the United States market,” Matlin said. He said that when he was with AlarmForce, “we were very successful in markets such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Minnesota and Kentucky and we built up very strong operations within those markets, so in all probability, [Matlin Creative will] probably do a lot of business with various alarm companies, either in the United States or in Canada.”

AlarmForce had not responded to a request for comment by SSN’s deadline.

Does Matlin plan on starting a new alarm company?

“At this stage, no, but we’re going to be very involved in the alarm industry and we’ll see where that takes us,” Matlin told SSN.

Matlin was president and CEO of AlarmForce when he was suddenly forced out last July after a unanimous vote by the company’s board.

Matlin, who is in his 60s, filed suit last fall against 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. “Now you have the financial guys running the company, certainly not the marketing guys,” he said at the time of his firing.

His son, Adam, was the VP of sales and marketing at AlarmForce and Joel Matlin was well known to television and radio audiences in Canada as a pitchman for AlarmForce.

After their dismissal, Matlin had said he and Adam planned to win seats on AlarmForce’s board because they were still shareholders. But Matlin told SSN in July “that bid was unsuccessful” and added, “I’ve divested all of my shares, happily, because in my opinion, the AlarmForce story is quite boring.”

AlarmForce, which went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1992, in June reported positive second quarter results. It said it has 143,800 subscribers, a 6 percent growth rate. Revenues were up 9 percent in the first six months of 2014, to $26.1 million, and RMR climbed 6 percent in the same period, the company reported. Adjusted EBITDA for the first six months of the year increased 13 percent, from $12.8 million to $14.4 million, the company said.

But Matlin contends AlarmForce was healthier under his management. “When we had the company, we had double digit net growth,” he said. “So they’ve been riding the coattails of our success in the prior year to when we were with the company.”

Also, he claims AlarmForce has “cut costs dramatically” to “make the numbers look better.” For example, he noted that the company hasn’t found a permanent replacement for him so he claims that his salary, which was to exceed $1 million over the course of his last, uncompleted three-year contract, is being used to bolster the bottom line.

Matlin added, “I’m very complimented that it’s taken them over a year to find somebody [as permanent CEO] because it comes back to me, how difficult it’s been to replace me and my son.”