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by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Security Partners has hired Richard Bosley III, formerly of AlarmWATCH, to be its new operations manager, a position in which he will oversee the company's development in the wake of acquiring its second central station.

Bosley held multiple positions over an 18-year stint at his former company where he said, at one time or another, he worked “every position,” doing everything from service calls, IT and data entry to marketing and dealer support.

Bosley said his top priority at Security Partners remains on track: to get the Lancaster central station and the San Antonio facility, which it acquired in August, “fully, 100 percent hot redundant.” This involves switching both centrals to the Tadiran phone system and adding Bold’s Manitou servers to the San Antonio central. The two-fold process is scheduled to be completed sometime in January. 

Beyond the primary goal of redundancy, Bosley hopes to use his experience in a diverse range of positions to strengthen the critical relationships between Security Partners and its dealers, and between dealers and end users. “When [dealers] grow, we grow,” he said, adding that Security Partners plans to “refocus the central station to give some customer service training and backup support, and be able to offer services that Security Partners might not have thought about in the past.”

Another major area of emphasis, he said, will be helping dealers grow and market themselves, thereby forging stronger relationships with customers. “If you’re not reaching out to your customers we almost guarantee another alarm company is,” Bosley noted. “We really want to help dealers become more acquainted with end users instead of just installing alarms and collecting checks each month.”

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weeks after the announcement that Hank Groff, formerly the director of the dealer program at Guardian Protection Services, was tapped to run the partner program at Dynamark, Guardian has made a hiring of its own.

The super-regional, based in Warrendale, Pa., hired Brian Helt to be its new VP of the authorized dealer program, a newly created position, according to a company statement

A 15-year veteran of the industry, Helt comes to Guardian from Interlogix, where he held several sales leadership positions and managed departments dedicated to acquiring and developing business relationships with dealers.

Prior to Interlogix, Helt served in management roles at UTC Fire and Security and GE Security, while being the owner and operator of his own security business in Kansas City.

Helt has experience growing dealer programs, so it will be worth tracking what kind of impact his hiring has for the company, and to see what responsibilities he takes on in the new role. I’m also interested to see what the move means as far as Guardian’s national footprint is concerned.

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by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some hiring news surfaced this week from north of the border. Yorkton, Saskatchewan-based SecurTek, which has three central stations in Canada and commercial and residential accounts in several provinces, hired Darrell Jones to be its new president and CEO, the company announced in a news release.

Jones comes to the SecurTek, a subsidiary of SaskTel, a Canadian telecom company, from outside the industry. He worked previously at the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, and his background also includes active involvement as a board member with the Real Estate Institute of Manitoba.

He’ll now be at the helm of a company with a dealer network of 150 partners, in retail, wholesale monitoring and security servicing. In addition to its commercial and residential security offerings, SecurTek provides video and medical monitoring.

“Darrell has established strong and positive working relationships with the non-profit sector, stakeholder organizations, and the private sector in his role with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation,” Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO, said in a news release. “Darrell will be a strong addition to the SecurTek team and I’m confident under his leadership SecurTek will continue to grow and thrive.”

In the coming week I hope to speak with Jones about the transition to the security industry, and to explore how his background in real estate could be a boon to someone hoping to expand the company’s residential and commercial account bases.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some intriguing financial news out of the Monitronics/Ascent Capital camp. Ascent Capital Group’s largest direct stockholder, media mogul John Malone, recently sold half his preferred shares—worth $32.7 million in cash—back to the company, according to a news release from Ascent Capital. The divestment comes nearly three years after Ascent acquired Monitronics in a $1.2 billion deal.

Malone, who sold 351,734 shares, now owns the same number of Series B shares, plus 198,540 Series A shares, which together comprise 21.6 percent of the Ascent shareholder vote, the release noted.

In an email exchange, Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, a St. Louis-based investment bank, indicated that the move would likely please shareholders. "Ascent has had plenty of cash on its balance sheet so this is not a bad use of funds to help stock price," he said.

It will be interesting to see what (if any) effect this has on operations at Monitronics, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Ascent. An investor I contacted seemed to believe it would not have much effect. Yesterday, the company announced that it will report its earnings on Nov. 12, 2013. On that date, the company will host a conference call in which management will give an update on Ascent’s operations, including the financial performance of Monitronics, and “may also discuss future opportunities,” the release said.

In all likelihood I’ll be dialing into that conference call, which I’m hoping will shed some light on what those opportunities might be. 

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jay Hauhn, chief technology officer and VP of industry relations at Tyco Integrated Security, has been named president of CSAA. The announcement was made at the organization’s recent annual meeting in Quebec City. Hauhn, who most recently served as vice president for the organization, assumes the role held by Robert Bean, whose term expires this year.

Hauhn is actively involved in several industry organizations. Since 2011, he has served as chairman of the board at The Security Industry Association, a role in which he has executive responsibility for all interaction with industry associations, regulatory agencies and state and federal governments. His current term as Chairman of the Board at SIA ends this year.

Hauhn also sits on the board of directors at the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, and he is chairman of the Electronic Security Association’s government relations committee.  

I’m scheduled to speak with Hauhn later this week about his expanded role at CSAA. In that interview, I’ll discuss some of Hauhn’s short- and long-term ambitions as the newly minted leader of the organization.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A few developments surfaced today out of the SecureNet Technologies camp. The Longwood, Fla.-based company, which provides video monitoring services and interactive home features, announced the launch of the SecureNet platform, a system that gives alarm providers a cloud-based management service.

The system is designed to increase the speed of alarm responses while improving their accuracy by eliminating errors caused by traditional notes-based dispatching systems, the company noted in a news release.

As we continue to see, there are several benefits for central stations who deploy a cloud-based platform. First off, it improves redundancy in the event of outages or natural disasters. It also reduces the man hours required for continual technological upgrades. Interestingly enough, while SecureNet’s platform is clearly moving with the hosted solution wave, it is also offered as a traditional on-site service.

The other piece of news, less of a strictly monitoring nature, is that SecureNet has joined the Z-Wave Alliance, a group of technology companies that design wireless home control products based on the Z-wave wireless communications standard.

SecureNet’s Interactive Gateway Modules, a line of hardware devices that integrate with the with alarm panels, is designed primarily for its adaptability to home management services. The devices use Z-wave technology to control and communicate with interactive video monitoring, access controls, as well as an array of home automation features.

In the coming days I’ll be following up with SecureNet to get a closer view of these latest developments.  

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

As I encounter new theories and projections about PERS valuations, I continue to find a refreshing lack of consensus among the experts. That’s not to say there aren’t areas of agreement. There are. Those watching the market often cite similar determinants of valuation, such as attrition rates, cash flow and the costs of creating new accounts. But experts seldom invest the same metrics with equal importance.     

For example, Barry Epstein, president of Dallas-based Vertex Capital, believes reducing attrition rates to be a critical component of increasing PERS valuations. Conversely, Mark Sandler, a principal with SPP Advisors, downplayed the importance of churn, saying instead that a company’s value hinges more on how efficiently they can redeploy their units.

Today I came across a presentation on PERS valuations delivered by Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, at the Medical Alert Monitoring Association conference held last week in Orlando. Edmonds’ insights reflect another nuanced interpretation of the market. In the presentation, he boiled PERS valuations down to four key metrics: cash flow; churn (attrition rate); growth rate/new account volume; and creation cost.

Just as vital for maximizing value is the ability of dealers to compile solid data on these metrics, Edmonds noted in one of the slides.

Edmonds developed some pretty in-depth calculations that he believes dealers should be cognizant of. For instance, churn rate metrics should account for total lost RMR on a trailing 12-month or trailing six-month basis. That figure should then be divided by average outstanding RMR. With respect to the cash flow, Edmonds advises dealers to focus on adjusted EBITDA and steady state free cash flow.

Edmonds’ presentation also offered a trove of information about buyers. He noted that buyers will create finance models for target companies, develop key assumptions based on a target company’s past performance and determine a capital structure based on current market conditions.

Edmonds also provided the following aphorism: “Buyers never pay more than they think they have to.”

In the coming weeks I plan to speak with Henry Edmonds himself to get a more in-depth take on PERS valuations and the state of the market in general. Stay tuned.

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by: Leif Kothe - Friday, October 4, 2013

Over the course of my two days at the Dynamark Convention, I had the good fortune of speaking with several knowledgeable industry veterans, and I’d be remiss not to mention some of them in this space. Whether at the vendor show, educational sessions or during my tour of Dynamark’s central station, I found no shortage of folks with industry expertise.

The vendor show featured a vibrant mix of companies, with virtually every facet of the industry represented, from access control and video surveillance to fire alarms and intrusion detection. There were distributors like ADI, which had a booth, and several attendees from The Systems Depot, including CEO Robert Pinion, who gave me a thorough description of the company’s new call center, a 20,000-square-foot facility with an efficient layout that's rapidly adding new employees. In the spirit of the season, there was some gridiron chat weaved into the industry-specific discussions. As it turns out, Pinion’s son is a punter for the No. 3-ranked Clemson Tigers.

Those very same Clemson Tigers travel north this weekend, heavily favored in their matchup with Syracuse, the alma mater of Tom Piston, vice president of sales & marketing at Dynamark. Piston, along with Lamar Shroyer, IT director at Dynamark, guided me and SSN publisher Tim Purpura on a tour through the central station. Shroyer showed us a veritable wall of servers and systems, which included Bold Technologies’ Manitou automation platform, as well as servers from Israeli-based Tadiran Telecom.

Keith Godsey, Dynamark’s vice president of central station operations, answered a few questions about Dynamark’s training procedures. Training typically lasts two weeks, and operators accrue greater responsibility as they ascend to higher levels of training. Interestingly enough, Godsey noted that 80 percent of their operators have been at the station since the facility opened in 2011—no small feat for a profession typically prone to high turnover.  

To conclude, I wanted to mention a final element of interest about the conference: The presence of companies offering peripheral services that both dealers and central stations are leveraging for value. I spoke with Joseph Narkin, director of business development at Demand, a marketing and business development firm that works with alarm companies, including Dynamark, and whose cold-calling team is comprised of qualified prison inmates (Narkin himself is a former prison inmate who said the company contributed tremendously to his rehabilitation and reintegration in society).

I also spoke with John Latimer, senior account executive at Keller Stonebraker Insurance, based in Hagerstown, Md. The company works with alarm companies, both dealers and central stations, to help transfer and mitigate risk—legal concerns of no small importance to the alarm industry as a whole.

In summary (I fully intended this update to be just that), my first voyage as part of SSN was a valuable and diverse experience, and the folks at Dynamark, and many others with whom I happened to cross paths, were nothing short of welcoming and bright.

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by: Leif Kothe - Thursday, October 3, 2013

Embrace new technology. Adapt. Preserve a human connection in sales and seize the opportunities provided by a market that's bound to become more aware of your products and services. Those were some of the words of wisdom offered by Wayne Alter, founder of Dynamark, and Wade Moose, CEO of The Systems Depot and Elk Products, in the keynote speeches at the Dynamark Convention 2013.

A spirit of optimism pervaded the basic message, and both Alter and Moose were engaging speakers, knowledgeable and honest, with a penchant for weaving helpful and often funny personal stories into their advice for dealers. Early into Alter’s keynote, he predicted the penetration rate for the market would see a spike between 5-8 percent in the not-too-distant future. It’s a lofty projection, but one grounded in the likelihood that market awareness stands to rise appreciably in the coming years due to the influx of new players, specifically the cablecos and telecoms, whose advertising clout could prove a boon to the entire industry. This development, together with a gradually recovering economy and a profusion of home management services that boost RMR and curb attrition, might be enough to nudge that stubborn penetration rate in an upward direction. I’ll be keeping a close eye on market reports to see if Alter’s prediction bears itself out. 

Another point of emphasis in both speeches, particularly Alter’s: The industry has come full circle. “It’s new in some ways, and it’s old in others,” Alter told attendees. While the technology and the means of reaching customers have undergone dramatic transformations recently, some of the original principles of salesmanship remain as essential as ever, Alter noted. He mentioned Vivint’s door-knocking summer sales model as an example of this, as well as the DIY monitoring systems, which Alter originally thought would appeal more to hobbyists than general customers.

Another two-part prescription Alter provided to dealers: Expand the number of people in your business and train them well. It’s a tested formula for building an account base, if not always an easy one to enact. This piece of advice again harkens back to the recurring theme of the keynote—the theme of keeping pace with the evolution of the industry while preserving certain core requirements that have always been conducive to growth.  

In a funny anecdote, Alter drove home the point that many of the same sales practices that work best now were the same sales practices that worked best when he started his business in 1975, a time when he had to scour phonebooks for sales leads.  

There’s much more to say about my experience at the Dynamark Convention. But since this space is reserved for a blog rather than a dissertation, I’ll have to save these thoughts for my next post. Tomorrow I'll discuss my inaugural central station visit at Dynamark's Hagerstown, Md.-based facility, along with some other goings-on at the convention. 

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by: Leif Kothe - Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The bite of chilly weather hasn't yet snapped southern Maine, but that doesn't mean I don't welcome the opportunity to go 500 miles south for 48 hours, where stronger vestiges of summer remain. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Maryland with Tim Purpura, SSN's publisher, to attend the Dynamark Convention 2013 in Hagerstown, Md.

The event kicks off in earnest with a vendor show tomorrow evening, which will showcase products from a slew of manufacturers, with an emphasis on new and emerging technology trends. Day two opens with a joint presentation by Dynamark founder Wayne Alter and Wade Moose, owner of The Systems Depot, followed by workshops tailored to dealers, technicians, installers and sales personnel.

My Hagerstown stay will conclude with my inaugural central station tour of Dynamark’s facility, which opened in 2011. I eagerly await this phase of the trip, not only because it’s my personal debut in a central station, but because the descriptions I’ve heard of Dynamark’s facility tend to be peppered with superlatives.

I plan to be active on Twitter during the vendor show and workshop sessions (https://twitter.com/SSN_Leif), and I’ll also be updating my blog over the course of the next two days as events unfold, distilling the sights and sounds and key takeaways from the speakers.

For those attending, I look forward to meeting you there.

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