Video firm hires new v.p. for new markets

New vice president is industry veteran and founder of another interactive company
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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

NEW YORK - With the backing of its global security products manufacturer parent, an interactive video firm has tapped a veteran of the video industry to lead it into new markets.

Smart Interactive Systems, a subsidiary of Israel-based Magal Group, earlier this year hired Bill Elliot as the company’s senior vice president for business development. Elliot, who founded Houston-based Interstar Systems, an interactive video monitoring company, will generate new sales and work with Smart’s sales force to promote the company’s system design, installation and interactive video monitoring services. The company has its central station and main offices here, and sales locations in Connecticut, Boston and Ontario, said Steve Wachtel, president and chief executive officer of Smart Interactive.

While company officials said Elliot brings his experience of using interactive video and audio to Smart, he was also courted for his contacts and knowledge of the automotive industry, a market that the company intends to target over the next year.

“The auto industry is probably in interactive video one of the most fruitful industries,” Elliot said. “You’ve got an almost ready market for us,” Elliot said. Other targets include banking, trucking and warehousing industries and other high-margin commercial and industrial businesses.

Begun by its parent Magal Security Systems in 2001 as a pilot operation to capitalize on the growing interactive video market, Smart first targeted a broad market of customers, Wachtel said. Since he was appointed chief executive officer of the company in August 2002, the company has shifted its focus away from high-volume, low-margin customers such as convenience store and fast-food chains to more niche markets where Smart intends to become the dominant provider.

“Part of what attracted me to Smart was their parent company’s big presence in the security market,” Elliot said. “It’s a natural add-on to a lot of the customer base that Magal has and they have the resources to develop it.”

Using as a platform the global customer list of Magal, an international company that holds 40 percent of the world’s perimeter intrusion detection systems market, Smart will target banking, trucking, warehousing and other sites with its services. Magal posted more than $41 million in revenues for 2001.

“Magal looked into purchasing these types of businesses for a couple of years,” Wachtel said. “When you hold 40 percent of the market share in your business, it’s difficult to grow, so they looked around to find the next growth industry, and thought this is it.”

The three-year-old company has already outgrown its current space in Queens, but is also considering expanding its facility there. Smart is hoping to begin plans for larger space within the next six months.