Provident Security goes to the mountains

Provident says acquisition in Whistler, B.C. is “perfect fit” because it’s where its Vancouver customers have vacation homes
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

VANCOUVER, B.C.—Provident Security, based here, serves about 6,000 clients in this Canadian city. But the fact that many of them have vacation homes in Whistler, a mountain resort town less than two hours from the city, has led the company to make its first acquisition outside of Vancouver in its 15-year-history.

Provident on Aug. 31 acquired Dow Security, a 10-year-old company in Whistler, the host mountain site for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Provident plans to rebrand Dow as Provident Security (Whistler) Corp. before the end of the year, Provident founder and president Mike Jagger said.

Jagger told Security Systems News that the purchase marks only the second acquisition in the history of Provident, which specializes in high-end residential clients. The first was about eight years ago, he said, and that company was in Vancouver. That city is where Provident has limited itself to one geographic area on the west side of the city because of the unique services it offers—such as promising customers to send an employee to their door within five minutes after the company’s 24/7 monitoring center receives an alarm, Jagger said.

“Everything builds around the immediate response, so we’ve been very, very restrictive as to what areas we take on,” Jagger explained. “There are other opportunities that have come up that we’ve turned down because it hasn’t been the right fit for us. Whistler is a perfect fit because of the crossover [of Vancouver customers with vacation homes], even though it is an hour and a half or so away.”

He declined to discuss the financial terms of the deal but said, “Everyone is pretty happy about it.”

The number of accounts acquired in the Dow transaction is fewer than 1,000, said Jagger. But he said the purchase has “strategic value” for Provident. It makes it “a lot easier to serve the rest of our clients who want to switch over to us up there,” he said.

Provident is now the largest home security company in Whistler—which has a year-round population of about 10,000 but a much larger transient one—and the only company with a base there that has its own 24/7 central monitoring station, according to Jagger.

“We see a lot of potential for Whistler,” he said.

Provident already has been serving its Vancouver clients who have homes in Whistler for about five years now—with Dow’s help. Because of Whistler’s distance from Vancouver, Provident sub-contracted with Dow to provide alarm response and emergency service, he said. Now Provident will have an office in Whistler, and the 175-employee Provident plans to retain Dow’s approximately 15 employees

“One of the great things about Dow when we’ve worked with them in the past is that they really understood the whole customers service end of things … so we’re keeping their whole team in place,” Jagger said.

He said that in addition to basic security services, customers in Whistler will get be offered “several other services tailored specifically to Whistler homes,” Jagger explained in his blog.

“For example,” he wrote, “integration of thermostats to allow for remote control of heating/cooling from an iPhone or Blackberry. This means you can start heating your home (or driveway) in Whistler while you pull out of your garage in Vancouver on Friday afternoon.”

In addition, he told SSN, Whistler clients will get Provident’s unique HomeWatch services.

In the city, HomeWatch services include everything from a Provident employee picking up the mail, watering the plants and feeding the cat for clients on vacation to picking up children from school, Jagger said.

In Whistler, HomeWatch services will range from Provident patrolling clients’ empty vacation homes to meet insurance requirements to doing grocery shopping for them so their refrigerators are stocked with the necessities when they arrive for vacation.

“The security is really the entry point,” Jagger said. “We hold all of the client’s house keys and once the client gets used to trusting us, they start using us for all the HomeWatch services, and that’s where the real opportunities are.”