Monitoring center grows coverage

Friday, November 1, 2002

LAFAYETTE, La. - A central station borne of its parent company's ambulance dispatch operations is now targeting dealers to the east in a move that company officials hope will duplicate recent growth.
Acadian OnWatch, part of Acadian Ambulance Services based here, monitors approximately 15,000 accounts for about a dozen dealers in Louisiana, the majority of which have signed on over the past year. Acadian previously monitored accounts exclusively for a local security firm, Argus Security for about two years, but in January 1999, the company received its UL listing and began marketing to other dealers in the state. About 3,000 of the station's monitored accounts belong to Argus.

While the Acadian's security monitoring operations are only about four years old, Acadian Ambulance, which has been in business since 1971, enjoys a strong brand recognition in Louisiana, said Blane Comeaux, general manager of the central station.

"From a marketing standpoint, (the dealers) are able to tell their clients that they are with an established company, where before they were just with monitoring company B that no one had ever heard of," Comeaux said.

That name recognition will aid Acadian OnWatch in its move to target dealers in Mississippi as Acadian Ambulance continues to move into that state, opening locations and adding employees.

"As people get to know (Acadian Ambulance) there, they will come to recognize us as a monitoring station as well," Comeaux said. "We are thinking that we'll probably get 10 to 15 percent of Mississippi's market share and that's kind of what our goal is."

Acadian got its start in security with a personal emergency response system that the company developed, sells and monitors in-house. A ten-year history with that product, coupled with the company's state-of-the-art ambulance dispatch operations at its headquarters here, made it an easy decision to delve into security monitoring.

"We are always looking at keeping abreast with technology and we have made a considerable investment on the ambulance side for our dispatching system," said Scott Domingue, manager of corporate development for Acadian Ambulance. "It was a natural fit for alarm monitoring since we had the tools in place."

The 1,600-square-foot central station houses about five workstations that are manned by 15 employees, a number that has doubled since Acadian opened its services to the general dealer population, Comeaux said. There is also room to spare, with five additional workstations ready and waiting for a dispatcher, as well as 12 other workstations available for future growth, Comeaux said. The central station also monitors about 5,500 accounts of the emergency response service, called Acadian OnCall. The ambulance dispatch center is in an adjoining 3,000 square foot facility.

Although Acadian OnWatch makes up less than one percent of its parent company's $150 million in annual revenues, growth is achieved on a slow, constant basis rather than through acquisition.

"We like slow, steady growth," said Domingue. "We would like to become a strong southern regional ambulance service, and the same with our other services."