Monitoring software firm founders buy back company

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Saturday, March 1, 2003

NORFOLK, Va. - The original founders of a central station automation and billing software company have taken back ownership of the company, more than two decades after the company was founded.

Bill and Joe Agreste, two cousins who also operate installation company Vulcan Security Systems in Virginia, started the company in the late 1970s to solve their own billing dilemmas. After developing AlarmSoft’s billing and automation products into recognizable brands, including Central Works, the company’s monitoring software, the two sold the company in 1995 to focus on Vulcan’s operations and other ventures the two had developed.

After the former manager who purchased the AlarmSoft name from the Agrestes failed to repay a promissory note to the two former owners, they regained ownership of the AlarmSoft name and other assets. To do so, a new company, Jabco Corp. was formed to absorb the assets.

“We came to terms with the people we sold it to, took it back and have started now to put a new infusion of capital into the company to expand,” Joe Agreste said.

For now, AlarmSoft has one employee from the former ownership and has already brought on board two more sales staff to make contacts with old customers. Two more sales positions could be filled shortly, as the new management works to again build AlarmSoft’s presence in the market.

Along with trade shows, the company is evaluating signing on with some international distributor partners, as well as increasing its advertising presence.

While the company was under different ownership, the two never lost touch with the AlarmSoft company or the product they had worked to develop.

“During the time that the company was out of our control, we still did all the product development for AlarmSoft,” Bill Agreste said.

After the acquisition was settled, the two started to notice that many of its new customers were proprietary central stations looking for a monitoring solution.

“The large 2,000 to 8,000 account central station still occurs as far as a sale,” Bill Agreste said, “but the real growth for us is in the small sideways market.”

Organizations such as grocery stores, warehouses and universities have been buying AlarmSoft’s products, representing a whole new market for the company.

“It’s definitely gone more proprietary,” Joe Agreste said. “It’s exciting seeing these different markets and how they move.”