Raefield leaves Mace; Smith is new CEO

Richard Barone talks about what change signifies
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

HORSHAM, Pa.—The change in leadership at Mace Security International does not signify a change in plans for the company, but rather, a change in the character of the company, Richard Barone, chairman of the Mace Board of Directors and chairman of the executive committee for the Ancora Group, told Security Systems News.

Mace announced Aug. 19 that Dennis Raefield has resigned his post as CEO on Aug. 18 and that Michael E. Smith the same day took over as CEO.

“Three years ago when Dennis became CEO, Mace had five operating divisions, some with subdivisions and each had its own president reporting to Dennis,” Barone said. In addition, “Dennis was handed a whole set of problems,” he added.

Indeed, Mace had lawsuits to settle with its former CEO Louis Paolino and the Environmental Protection Agency. And it had two divisions—the remaining car washes and an Internet marketing business—that it wanted to shed.

With most of that wrapped up, Mace entered 2011 in need of raising some money. Mace recently announced that it raised $4.3 million in a rights offering to existing shareholders. Also, Ancora Group and its subsidiaries purchased $4 million more shares, bringing the total amount raised to $8.3 million. With these funds raised, Ancora Group and its subsidiaries became the largest shareholder with about 40 percent of shares. Barone was named chairman of the Mace board and two new directors were added to the board: Dennis Amato from Ancora; and Larry Pollock, managing partner of Lucky Stars Partners.

“Dennis did a wonderful job ... his term at Mace was successful,” Barone said. “He transitioned the company to a point where someone [with a different skill set] would carry on,” he said.

Barone characterized Raefield as a talented “macro-manager,” and the incoming CEO, Michael Smith, as a talented “micro-manager.” Smith, who has served on the Mace board, is a partner of Chesterbrook Growth Partners, and was formerly CEO of Checkpoint Systems.

In particular, Smith is charged with “helping grow the [Mace] pepper spray division organically and add other personal security products to the line,” Barone said.

During his tenure, Raefield brought Mace into the central station monitoring business with the purchase of central stations CSSS and The Command Center. Mace's central station arm now goes under the name Mace CS. Barone said Mace wants to acquire centrals where it can get rid of brick and mortar and transition accounts onto Mace’s platform. Those kinds of acquisitions, “enhance the bottom line and can really be accretive,” Barone said.

With the expansion into personal security products, Barone said there will be more “integration” among the three divisions of Mace: the pepper spray division, Mace Security Products, and the central station business.

Dennis Raefield told SSN he’s pleased with what he was able to accomplish as CEO of Mace, and said the company “is in very good hands with Michael Smith as the new CEO ... he’s a very capable operations guy, and that’s what the company needs.”

Raefield—who has worn many hats in the security industry, including having owned his own integration company for more than 20 years and later heading up Honeywell’s access control division—said he’s going to take a couple of months off. He said he’s interested in serving on boards and or serving as the president of a company that does not compete with Mace.