New American Security president aims for growth

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.—David Cohen, the new president and COO of American Security Systems, comes from outside the security industry. But Cohen is experienced at growing businesses, and he wants to double the growth of the security and fire company, based here.

“If there’s one thing I’ve done, I’ve scaled businesses,” Cohen told Security Systems News. “I took a small business in New York, an employment screening company, and we went from $25 million to $75 million in two years. ... Our aspirations here are to grow the business, maybe not quite at that pace, but to be very aggressive and to have the capacity to work toward our plan as it relates to each of our lines of business, fire being a prominent one.”

He continued: “Our target is to more than double our business over the next two years, so we’re talking about 25 to 30 percent compound growth at a minimum. So we’re both hopeful and planning very hard, establishing goals and objectives for the organization that will get us there.”

American, which has 80 employees, is one of New York City’s largest independent security and life safety providers. While the 33-year-old diversified company has a long history of fire monitoring with its UL-listed central station—which currently has more than 5,000 customers—its fire division started just about eight years ago.

Fire work accounts for about 25 percent of American’s business today, American CEO Larry Dolin told SSN last summer. That division and also the company’s Video Doorman division are its two fastest-growing sectors, Dolin said.

Cohen took over the job of president in January and comes from outside the security industry, from the light manufacturing and business services arenas. A company news release said he most recently completed “an advisory project for a Providence Equity Partners-owned group of companies (Altegrity/HireRight), principally in the areas of global operations improvement, technology deployment and business integration.” He also previously held leadership positions with PVI Solar, Dempsey Myers & Co., and Sterling Infosystems, the release said.

Cohen told SSN his career has involved “a lot of technology and a lot of operational improvement.”

Dolin, in a prepared statement, said he believes Cohen is an asset to American and will “make a significant contribution to improving operations and efficiencies as American continues to grow its fire safety and Video Doorman security business sectors.”

Cohen said American’s fire division stands out because not only does it offer installation, monitoring, testing and service, but it also has an “emerging parts-and-smarts business.” He noted, “There’s not a lot of companies that can provide soup to nuts.”

But while fire is “an enormous strength” for the company, Cohen predicted that the Video Doorman division would grow even more dramatically. He said it’s an underserved market without a lot of competition.

Cohen replaces Kenneth Gould, who took over as president two years ago after being American’s general manager for two years. Cohen said Gould has resumed the consulting work he did previously and is still doing consulting for American.