Monitoring co-operative extends services to non-member dealers

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

TULSA, Okla. - A monitoring cooperative based here that has provided its services only to members since the late 1980s has extended third party monitoring to non-member dealers in an effort to build the business.

With 106 dealer members, Monitoring America Alarm Co-op monitors just less than 16,000 accounts, a number that company officials hope to increase by attracting dealers and also new members, according to Ron Wies, general manager. Ultimately, over the next several years, Wies said expectations are for the central station grow to between 30,000 and 50,000 accounts and double in personnel, a scenario that would ease staffing crunches and other issues inherent to a small organization.

The company now has 11 dispatch and supervisory employees.

“Our profit is not our goal, although we have to make it to keep the doors open,” Wies said.

“Having a larger staff would make it a lot more comfortable for staffing, and that truly is our goal for growth.”

Although officials said it’s too early to tell what type of growth is anticipated early on from the expanded services, growth in accounts means higher dividends as well as larger equity shares for members, factors that will likely make buying a stake in the co-op more attractive, Wies said.

To aid in the growth expected to come with the expanded offering, the co-op will offer lower monitoring rates, as little as $3 per month for new dealers, and ramp up advertising and other marketing efforts to the independent dealer community. Co-op members pay about $5 per month for their monitoring.

“We believe that as people come on as dealers, as we continue to grow they are going to want to become coop members,” Wies said.

In areas that aren’t served by a national or regional central station, dealers using the monitoring services of a competitor might find the benefits of membership especially appealing.

“That was the original idea behind the co-op and the formation of a central monitoring station,” said Neil Brown, owner and president of Security Protection of Tulsa, one of the co-op’s founding members. “Then, the other choices in the Tulsa area were set up by other alarm companies and you were actually preserving their existence by using them.”

Because Monitoring America owns its facility and equipment, doubling or even tripling the personnel capacity of its central station, which now has four workstations, could easily be done by reconfiguring the central’s interior. A parcel of land to the north of the co-op’s property is available for purchase for more significant expansion.

Wies said a major remodel of the central station is planned within the next five years.