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by: Spencer Ives - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla.—I arrived Monday on Amelia Island, Fla., for Affiliated Monitoring’s third annual Catalyst conference, focused entirely on the sales and marketing aspects of the medical alert industry.

The first full day began with a welcome from, Mike Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring. He brought up the idea of “forced networking,” making sure that people are meeting and conversing with a multitude of different professionals, including ones they haven’t met before. To facilitate this, the conference has attendees in different groups throughout the event, such as with the table assignments or teams for networking events.

Zydor said that one of the valuable takeaways from the event will be the discussions and relationships made at Catalyst. Following this point, each attendee had the opportunity to stand and introduce themselves, their company, and where they’re from.

Next, Affiliated executive vice president Daniel Oppenheim presented “PERS: Today and the Future,” an overview of themes in the PERS industry and observations within Affiliated Monitoring. Oppenheim said how fortunate he is for what it is that the industry offers, “We offer a service that is vital to our customers, we save lives.”

The overall number of PERS signals that Affiliated received went up 45 percent last year, Oppenheim said.

“I feel very strongly in the future of our industry,” Oppenheim said. He pointed toward the baby boomer generation, the oldest of which are about 72 now, as a large opportunity—an entire generation that is about age into the typical PERS and mPERS demographics.

Related to that is one of the problems the industry will face in coming years, Oppeneheim said: that there are going to be more seniors, but there are projected to be fewer available caregivers. “There’s only one answer and it is our industry and technology that is going to solve this.”

An annual staple of the Catalyst program is the executive spotlight series, where Oppenheim has an on-stage conversation with leaders in the PERS industry, covering their perspective on the industry and the decisions that got them to where they are today. In 2016, Oppenheim sat down with Ritch Haselden of Essence USA, and in 2017, he spoke with Ken Gross of Connect America.

This year Oppenheim talked with Rob Flippo, CEO of MobileHelp, a provider of mPERS and health management solutions, which began in 2006.

“You bet big on mobile and you were right, what did you see that others in the market were not seeing at the time?” Oppenheim asked.

Flippo said that people weren’t using cellular in the home when he started, and he did his due diligence to figure out that there was no business reason for this and chose to take up the technology in his business. He noted that GPS technology was also in the early stages at that time.

Affiliated is now fully integrated with MobileHelp, Oppenheim announced on stage Tuesday. Through that process, Oppenheim met many members of Flippo’s team. He asked Flippo for his philosophies on putting together a team. 

Flippo first responded by agreeing with the phrase “The fish rots from the head down;” how management and ownership treat the people below them affects the entire business. Flippo also said that in assembling his team, he looked for people that would fit executive roles, before the company even had those positions.

Flippo provided an interesting perspective when asked to think about the future of the PERS industry, 10 years down the road. He said that the people buying PERS systems now, where about 65 when he started a little more than a decade ago. So, he challenged the audience to consider a 60 or 65 year-old now—that person will be a potential PERS user in 10 years. A 60 or 65 year-old now is more technological than in 2006, Flippo noted, and he predicted that PERS systems will come with more features and functionality that connects to other aspects of a user's life, much in the same way that the security ecosystem evolved to include more elements of home control.

The last session of the day was a panel, titled “Ask the Experts: Product Mix and Planning the PERS Future.” Here, Pete West, VP, North American director for KORE, moderated a conversation with Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA, Ryan Bangerter, business development director for Mytrex, and Scot McGehee, VP of operations and sales at Climax.

To kick things off, Ward asked Bangerter about the value of the cloud for PERS. Mytrex is leveraging the cloud with its new PERS product, the MXD LTE. Bangerter said that, historically, PERS systems are a local installation, but the cloud element allows for an easier integration process and it helps with different communication paths.

Ward asked McGehee about the usage of mobile PERS inside of the home, as opposed to a cellular PERS system. Seniors can be much more energetic and mobile, he noted, and Users need something for mobile use outside of the home as well as usage in the house. “We’ve got to be able to cover both bases going forward to take care of the aging population,” he said.

Essence does business outside of the US, Ward noted. He asked Amir about trends that are in international markets that might enter the U.S. market. Voice activation is one such trend, according to Amir. Specifically, Essence offers a voice panic alarm system, where emergency response sensors can be installed throughout a user’s house and—because it relies on voice—doesn’t require a wearable. This is a good solution when caregivers would like to see more protection in an elderly person’s home, but that user does not want to appear frail.

To open the second day of Catalyst 2018, Mike Zydor had an on-stage conversation with Mark Melendes, managing director and group head—specialized industries, CIBC Bank US, about what dealers need to know a head of looking for additional funding.

Borrowing from a bank can be a great way to grow a PERS business, Zydor noted. He asked Melendes for the first thing PERS dealer should do when thinking about additional funds.

Melendes said to think of alternatives to borrowing from a bank. Borrowing from a bank can be very involved, he said, and there are other options that a dealer could look into; for instance, finding a local lender or sometimes the seller in a transaction can partly help with financing.

According to Melendes, key considerations include: whether financial records in tact, does the company have good financial reporting and a history of financial reporting, is there a good CRM system, and are there the right people to support a banking relationship.

The first time that Melendes meets a company, it can be when there is an immediate acquisition opportunity, one that might want to close quickly, and unless they have the right information it can be a challenge.

Zydor asked: What do people looking to buy need to pay attention to in buying a competitor?

While CIBC focuses on the financial part of the transaction, it is also concerned with the strategic fit of the purchase and the legal due diligence, Melendes said. “Strategic fit is definitely one that we focus on,” he said.

Something new for Catalyst that was included this year was a session devoted to a variety of discussion groups. Through an event app, attendees were asked for the topic that most interested them out of nine options. Four topics were chosen for discussion groups: Medicaid and government programs, customer retention strategies, leveraging social media for your business, and building your team: the most essential roles to fill.

I sat in on the social media session, curious for business leaders’ opinions on leveraging social media for an offering geared toward the senior audience, which is currently noted as not being very technological.

This group was divided into two tables. The table I sat with discussed how the main audience is often not the user themselves, but instead the younger caregiver—an individual more likely to be on social media.

One idea was that messaging about PERS products has been often built off of fear, the fear of a fall. The industry could benefit from portraying PERS as more of a lifestyle product, a device that allows its user a certain lifestyle with more freedom.

From there, the discussion circled around to newer ideas of advertising that are mainly focused on showing a product and then showing a user having a better experience from using it. This is a concept in imaging that PERS products could use to showcase the offering as a lifestyle-focused device, as opposed to one driven by fear.

After about 20 minutes, each table in the room—about nine in total—chose a representative to present the ideas of their group.

The final presentation for this year was from the featured guest speaker, Erica Javellana, speaker of the house for Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. Javellana joined the company in 2007 as a human resources generalist and quickly rose to be the employee relations manager. She took the stage to talk about Zappos’ focus on customer service and how to focus on company culture.

Javellana began by talking about what Zappos calls P.E.C.: personal, emotional connection. Zappos wants each employee to establish a connection with each person they interact with, she said.

Zappos is committed to the idea of company culture and that means hiring and firing by those principles, Javellana said.

Zappos has 10 core values, central to the company’s culture, and one of them is to “Build a Positive Team and Family spirit,” and the wrong person can ruin a team’s dynamic. “If you get the right people, you get the right culture,” she said.

Other tenets of Zappos’ culture included “Deliver WOW through service,” “Create fun and a little weirdness,” and “Be humble.”

To “wow” through service means to go above and beyond, Javellana said. She shared the story of sitting in on a customer service call where a woman called in to try to find a specific sweatshirt. This woman hadn’t ever shopped with Zappos, Javellana noted, but the Zappos employee helped her none-the-less, and got to know her while searching for the sweatshirt. He eventually learned that the woman’s son had died in a car accident wearing his favorite sweatshirt at the time, and her younger son wanted the same one to remember his brother. The customer service representative, finding that Zappos did not have it, purchased one through a competitor and told the caller he would sent it to her.

It’s about the experience more than the transaction, Javellana stressed.

Creating a little fun and weirdness does not mean Zappos only hires extroverted people, Javellana said, it means they encourage employees to be their whole selves at work. Some people stress work-life balance, and are entirely different people outside of work. People could focus more on work-life integration, she said.

The last principle Zappos has in its culture is to be humble and the company has a small test for this. In hiring for any position, whether it be the COO or a department manager, they inform the candidate that all new hires are required to attend company-wide training followed by a period of answering phones, taking four weeks in total. If the applicant turns their nose up at the idea of answering phones, they are shown the door. One reason for this is that at busy times of the season, such as during the holidays, answering phones can mean all-hands-on-deck, Javellana said, including her and Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh.

Javellana ended her presentation with this question: “How will you wow?"

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I-View Now recently announced the launch of a new service: Police Alarm Portal. The process is powered by I-View Now’s Software as a Service Video Verification platform, and will send video directly to authorized emergency responders through the ASAP to PSAP program. Additionally, I-View Now will provide the service to law enforcement free of charge.

In the announcement, I-View Now said that Police Alarm Portal helps the entire electronic security industry by improving the path of communications flow from end users to the monitoring station and then to law enforcement. “It allows for a faster and safer response to alarms by authorized emergency responders, increases the value of the alarm provider's monitoring service, and improves customer retention,” the company said.

The new service will provide better information and collaboration to help keep communities safer, according to I-View Now.

"We're thrilled to be offering this revolutionary and patented service at no cost to law enforcement,” Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, said in the announcement. “When an alarm goes off, you don’t always know what you’ll find. Using video verification with the Police Alarm Portal changes that unknown factor. Authorized emergency responders will have real-time information about what’s happening at the protected premises through live video and video clips. Police officers can respond appropriately and more safely to a verified alarm event.”

Police Alarm Portal is being tested at 911 Communications Centers across the nation, including in Richmond, Virginia, the first city to go live with ASAP to PSAP.

"The City of Richmond is honored to have been chosen to participate in a pilot of Police Alarm Portal with I-View Now,” Bill Hobgood, systems developer lead for City of Richmond, Department of Information Technology Public Safety Team, and recognized ASAP subject matter expert, said in a prepared statement. “The delivery of video sent via the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) program sent by an alarm monitoring company when suspicious circumstances are present, is a value added for public safety. The video will enable dispatch staff in the emergency communications center as well as responding officers to easily navigate to the same video witnessed by the alarm operator adding another tool in the interest of officer safety and suspect apprehension."

“ADT is a founding member of the ASAP system, and also the nation’s largest user,” Don Young, ADT’s chief information officer, said in the announcement. “As our nationwide deployment of Video Verification with I-View Now is complete, making that same video content accessible to law enforcement is a natural extension of the services we currently provide our customers. ASAP is the premier standard for sending life safety information to PSAPs, and ADT is excited to further enhance our outstanding partnership with public safety officials.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—ASSA ABLOY recently announced agreements to purchase two U.S.-based door and frame manufacturers: Pioneer Industries, based in Carlstadt, N.J., and Concept Frames Inc., based in Newton, N.C.

"The addition of Pioneer allows us to fortify our steel door and frame offering in the US and in particular the Atlantic region," Lucas Boselli, executive vice president of ASSA ABLOY and head of the Americas division, said in a prepared statement.

Pioneer will continue to be led by its current management team. Pioneer was founded in 1930 and currently has about 100 employees. The head office and factory are located in Carlstadt, N.J.

The Pioneer acquisition is conditional upon satisfaction of customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the second quarter of 2018, ASSA ABLOY noted in its announcement.

Concept frames has a focus on custom-made steel doors and frames for commercial and industrial applications. "I am very pleased to welcome Concept Frames into the ASSA ABLOY Group,” Boselli said in a separate announcement. “Concept Frame is a complementary addition to ASSA ABLOY and adds to our leadership in the door and frame category in North America.”

Concept Frames has expertise in customer service, project specifications and quick delivery, primarily covering the southeast region of the US, ASSA ABLOY noted in its announcement. The company was founded in 1982 and has approximately 68 employees; its head office and factory are located in Newton, N.C.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mission 500, a charitable organization that works closely with the security industry to serve children in need in the U.S., announced yesterday that it raised $113,000 at its ninth annual Security 5K/2K Run/Walk and related sponsorships at this year’s ISC West.

Proceeds from the event will benefit children in need in the U.S., with a portion donated to a project in Puerto Rico which benefits children living in poverty who have been affected by Hurricane Maria, Mission 500 said in its announcement. Some ISC West attendees assembled Mission 500 Care Packs for 500 children in need living in Las Vegas, which were distributed by The Children’s Health Fund and were personally delivered and donated by Mission 500, HID Global, Freeman and the ISC West Security Events team.

The Security 5K/2K is a joint collaboration organized by United Publications, the publisher of Security Systems News, ISC Events and Mission 500.

“ISC West continues to be one of the cornerstone events that Mission 500 participates in every year,” Tim Purpura, chairman of the board for Mission 500 said in a prepared statement. “On behalf of Mission 500 and all of the children and families in need we support, I extend my sincerest thanks to all of our sponsors, volunteers and people who participated in the successful fund raisers staged at this year’s show.”

The Brink’s Home Security team raised the most at the 5K/2K, a total of $9,880. Jeff Gardner of Brinks was the top individual fundraiser, collecting $8,750, followed by Altronix's Ronnie Pennington with $3,100. Heather Miller of Anixter raised $1,720, which will be matched by her employer for a total of $3,440. Two staff members from Brink’s Home Security, along with Jeff Gardner, were awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Mission 500’s next service trip in Puerto Rico.

Mission 500 acknowledged medal winners and sponsors at the Security 5K/2K awards ceremony. This year’s fastest female was Karen Salerno of ISC Events with a time of 21:43. The fastest male and overall winner was Brian Matthews of Vingtor Stentofon, who completed the 5K course in 20:42.

Additionally, Mission 500 honored The Hurricane Harvey Heroes with its annual Humanitarian Award and Corporate Social Responsibility Award, which acknowledges individuals in the security industry who make important contributions to those in need. Winners of the Humanitarian Award include Curtis Kindred, president of American Defense Systems, Harley Schild, president of Vault Security, and Todd Fitch, president of Point Security. Altronix Corp. of Brooklyn, NY, received Mission 500’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award.

by: Spencer Ives - Friday, April 20, 2018

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Nice S.p.A., a global home and building automation company, on April 13 acquired 75 percent of abode systems, a provider of DIY security and home automation systems based here, for $18.75 million. The remaining stock is held by abode’s founders.

“We actually had a lot of interest from several larger [companies based] outside the U.S. … but we felt like Nice was the best fit for us. We really liked their team and their focus on design and user experience was one of the things that drew us to their founder, Lauro Buoro,” Chris Carney, co-founder of abode systems, told Security Systems News. Nice and abode first met in 2017, Carney said.

Abode’s security system is self-installed with a self-monitoring option as well as a professional monitoring option supported by UCC’s monitoring center. Abode users can also pick on-demand professional monitoring options. The company has more than 15,000 users now, most of which are in the U.S., according to Carney, but abode has customers in 27 different countries.

“I think that we have the potential to grow into a very competitive company for the foreseeable future based on this,” Carney said. “The main thing for us was getting additional investment and resources to continue to innovate the product, add to what we’ve already built, and then we have some opportunities for geographic expansion.”

Following the investment, abode plans to increase its employee count, particularly in marketing, customer support, and development, Carney said. Abode has 33 employees now and could add between 20 and 25 employees in the next six to 12 months.

“The innovation will move—I think—at a quicker pace and we’ll be able to build and scale to support a growing customer base alongside of that,” said Carney.

The company is currently working on its new iota system, a new, smaller form factor that will be offered alongside abode’s other product. 

There are potential synergies with what Nice does, according to Carney, such as abode’s systems integrating with Nice’s products.

In a prepared statement, Lauro Buoro, founder and chairman of Nice S.p.A., said, “It is a strategic operation for the Group which will allow us to expand on our product range to include the Home Security sector for installers and end users, thereby strengthening Nice’s leadership position in USA and North America, a market that is enjoying growing demand for connected home and building automation and home security solutions.”

Buoro continued, “This partnership represents important leverage in the direct dialogue of Nice with its end user yet safeguarding the business to business distribution channels and services offered to professionals; it also offers up innovative opportunities of integration between various platforms and extraordinary, highly profitable cross-selling options with potential partners in the insurance sector, as well as the range of additional subscription services. [Twenty-five] years after Nice was founded, this is another step forward in the international growth process, in the portfolio of products and services offered by our group, characterized by a strong focus on digitalization, to become the point of reference in the supply of cutting-edge solutions on a global scale, in the home security and smart home industry.”

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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

BALA CYNWYD, Pa. and PETALUMA, Calif.—Connect America, a large independent provider of PERS devices in North America, in early April announced that it acquired the Petaluma Health Care District's (PHCD) Medical Alert System Program, Lifeline of the North Bay, based in Petaluma, Calif.

“Lifeline of the North Bay will become Connect America West and serve as a base to expand the reach of Connect America's Healthcare Division throughout the state of California, bringing medical alert and mobile alert products, as well as Telehealth services, remote patient monitoring and medication dispensing systems, to a broader range of customers,” Connect America said in its announcement.

"Our Healthcare Division will continue to add to our nationwide footprint through similar acquisitions, as well as organic growth through our sales team," Richard Brooks, Healthcare Division president for Connect America, said in a prepared statement. "Strategic acquisitions like Lifeline of the North Bay, a premier Medical Alert System Program in California, enable us to establish a presence as a market leader in each new area that we enter and to build on the strength of the reputation and referral network of the companies that we acquire."

Ramona Faith, PHCD's CEO said in the announcement, "Transitioning our program and current dedicated staff to Connect America, a leader and long-time provider in the life safety industry, will bring our subscribers and providers a wealth of systems upgrades, including the latest advancements in technology and monitoring services, as well as new services to enhance their experiences over the long term. We are proud to have built a strong, life-saving system led by dedicated staff serving six North Bay Area counties, and we are thrilled to have attracted Connect America to acquire and advance our program."

by: Spencer Ives - Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday

Just before the show floor opened I met with some of the FLIR team. Brian Karas, the company's director of vertical market development, to hear a bit about the cameras FLIR plans to release later this year.

On the show floor I stopped by the MKS booth. The company recently announced a revamped approach to its dealer education, Micro Key University, and that has been going well, according to Joe Ligouri, company COO and CFO. “We’ve put out our first few videos and we’ve gotten some positive feedback from our customers,” he said.

At ISC West this year, mPERS manufacturer Freeus, announced the latest iteration of its Bell mPERS offering. Brock Winzeler, Freeus’ COO, discussed the newest features to the updated product including a 4G LTE connection, smaller size, reduced weight, and announcements to the user, such as letting them know the unit is charging, among other new features and aspects. Winzeler said the roll out is coming at the end of Q2.

I then met with Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring and David Smith, COPS Monitoring’s VP of marketing and business development. McMullen mentioned that while at the show, Lydia Security Monitoring’s brands collectively passed the 3 million account mark. McMullen also mentioned the company’s recent focus on PERS and mPERS technologies.

I stopped by the Rapid Response Monitoring booth on the show floor and caught up with Christopher Denniston, the company’s director of marketing and contract development. He was positive on the turnout for the show this year and stated that they had the opportunity to introduce their latest innovations to many dealers and integrators. “In the past 12 months we have added 30+ new services and feature integrations. This year’s show attendance allowed us to widely spread the word on these solutions, further existing dealer relationships and start new partnerships” Denniston said in an email interview after the show.

I remember when IDIS made a big splash when it came to ISC West 2015 as both a first time exhibitor and one of the 10 largest booths at the show. At the company’s booth this year, the company was showcasing its new H.265 IR PTZ surveillance camera, which has received two awards for its design: a 2018 international iF Design Award and the Red Dot ‘seal of quality’ Award.

From there I went to see Arecont Vision. Jeff Whitney, VP of marketing, showed me some of the latest offerings from the company announced at the show. Arecont is rolling out a new line of cameras, its Contera line, as well as its own software solution, ConteraVMS, a cloud managed recorder, Contera CMR, and a web service, ConteraWS.

My last meeting of this year’s show was with I-View Now; I got the chance to catch up with I-View’s president Larry Folsom. I-View Now has created a couple new integrations, including with Mastermind—along with a new service that will allow end users through Mastermind to cancel alarms request dispatch or call the operator in the event of an alarm. The company will also be able to connect with Ezviz cameras, a self-installed line, and act as the conduit for alarm and video to a monitoring center. On Thursday, I met with Marek Robinson, who recently joined the company to lead its dealer program and dealer engagement.

ISC West 2018 was a great show this year. As always, it was great catching up with professionals I’ve known since I started in the industry and meeting new faces.

Thursday

While the show floor has a nice buzz of excitement, new technology, and the chance to meet face-to-face with professionals I haven’t seen in a while, it’s always nice to get out for some fresh air with the Security 5k/2k. It was a bit windy, but the sun was bright and it was a warm morning walk.

Back in the ISC West exhibit room, I first met with Keith Deaton, the recently appointed COO of Sargent and Greenleaf. Deaton gave me an overview of some of the company’s solutions, such as the A-Series ATM lock that has a larger display which can offer more information to a technician.

Courtney Brown, Security Central’s president and owner, greeted me at the company’s booth. I also spoke with Jamie Byrd, Security Central’s service delivery manager, and Craig Swallow, managing director for SoloProtect—a personal safety device designed for discreet alerting and monitoring escalating situations. The two companies recently formed a partnership, aided by SoloProtect’s integration into Bold’s automation. The device, which also holds an ID card, can alert a monitoring center of a user’s potential risk. SoloProtect’s device can then transmit audio for an operator to listen to and decide on further action.

At the Honeywell booth I met with Bruce Anderson, director of external communications and social media, Trent Perrotto, senior manager external communications and media, Michael Coniff, global product marketing manager, and Jay Ramachandran, director of product marketing. Ramachandran showed me some features of the company’s upcoming residential platform, which will aid dealers and alarm users through having an easy process for users replacing components. Coniff gave me a demo of MaxProCloud and its updated interface.

Each year, Security Systems News does on-camera video interviews at ISC West. This year I interviewed Brian McLaughlin, CEO of Alula, the new brand for Resolution Products and ipDatatel; Mitch Klein of the Z-Wave Alliance; Joey Rao-Russell, PPVAR’s vice president; Matt Narowski, Bold Technologies’ VP of operations; and Avigilon’s president and COO, James Henderson.

You can look forward to those videos being posted on SSN’s website in the coming weeks.

Mike Zydor, Affiliated Monitoring’s managing director, and Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated Monitoring’s EVP, talked with me about the effort the company has put into its relatively new Texas facility, which is redundant and load sharing with the company’s main facility in New Jersey. Oppenheim highlighted three key trends he sees for Affiliated: PERS and mPERS, interactive video, and further development of its software.

I then went to meet with Justin Bailey, president and COO at AvantGuard Monitoring. Bailey mentioned that the company has had a strong start to 2018, adding on large dealers. He said that the company has been working with dealers on its hybrid monitoring options, which allow flexibility in control over monitoring, with options like part-time monitoring from an alarm dealer’s facility and the other part with AvantGuard.

At the CMS booth, I was able to catch up with Tony Wilson, president, and Jennifer Marshall, CMS’ marketing and communications manager. I also got to meet Heidi Hicks, the company’s business operations manager. The three of them outlined for me CMS Message Center—a live answering service now integrated into its CMS Compass dealer portal. Wilson, Marshall and Hicks also went over the company’s integration to monitor Reemo Health, a mobile health platform designed into a watch—the company’s first step into mPERS-style solutions.

My last stop for the day was the Dahua booth, where I met Tim Shen, marketing director, Jennifer Hackenburg, product marketing manager, and Rebecca Colesen, digital marketing specialist. The three of them went over some of Dahua’s working on, like AI built into cameras, showcasing uses with facial recognition and traffic at the booth.

Wednesday

My first show floor meeting of this year’s ISC West was with video and IoT platform provider Gorilla Technology and the company’s CEO Dr. Spincer Koh and Gorilla’s senior business development manager, Winnie Koh.

I spoke with Spincer Koh more recently on the company’s Security Convergence Platform that compiles data from cyber- and physical security sources. On the show floor it was great to see how Gorilla’s platform helped with a string of ATM hackings.

My next meeting was with Cliff Dice, president and CEO of DICE Corp. DICE’s sister company IPtelX, an alarm industry focused telecom, has now passed two million subscribers, Dice told me on the show floor.

I also caught up with DICE’s vice president of operations, James Beaty. He told me about the similarities and differences between the new SMS Check-In mass notification system that DICE announced recently and other SMS capabilities the company has developed.

At Milestone’s booth I met with Courtney Dillon Pedersen, the company’s communications manager for the Americas. We talked a bit about the positive feedback the company has gotten following its MIPS 2018 event.

Mitchell Klein, executive director of the Z-wave Alliance talked with me about Z-Wave’s approach and purpose at an event like ISC West. One is to promote the products of participating alliance members to the dealers in attendance; another is to represent the ecosystem that Z-Wave technologies create, showing the value to other potential partners.

IC Realtime earlier this year announced the company’s new video search platform that uses natural language called Ella. Andrew Nassar, the company’s general manager, talked with me about the new dealer portal for the Ella system. The company announced the new portal on Tuesday of this week, which is entirely separate from IC Realtime’s portal for its current dealers; a dealer doesn’t need to sell IC Realtime’s other products in order to access the Ella portal. 

At ADT’s booth I got to meet with Bob Tucker, ADT’s public relations director, Joe Nuccio, president of dealer partnership for ADT, Ken Rosen, senior director of training and recruiting, and Muawia Bishr, president of MAGNA Smart Home, a new ADT Dealer. Together, they gave me a picture of what it is like to be a new authorized dealer for ADT, such as the benefit of having a strongly recognized brand.

From there I went to the Bosch booth, which was quite abuzz with a variety of products, demonstrations and new booth features. I first spoke with Paul Garms, director—regional marketing, intrusion, for the company. Garms talked a bit about how the company has utilized cloud connectivity in some of its products to ease installs for Bosch’s dealers. Sean Murphy, Bosch’s director of marketing for North America, video products, showed me through a new feature to the booth: an interactive marketplace where attendees can get beverages or food while seeing real world applications for Bosch solutions in retail, loss prevention and marketing environments.

At the Mivatek booth I got to speak with Joe Liu, company CEO. Liu outlined some of the big changes for the company, such as switching to solely OEMing products and changing the name to “Mivatek Smart Connect,” among others. Switching to be entirely an OEM allows the company to focus more on engineering instead of channel branding, Liu explained.

From there I stopped by the Kwikset booth. Chris Hummel, territory manager—Northeast, gave me an overview of five new locks that were either recently released or would be released in coming weeks, including its Obsidian lock and Convert conversion kit to change a normal deadbolt into a smart lock.

MONI in late February announced an exclusive, long-term licensing agreement, which would result in the company completely rebranding to BRINKS Home Security. This branding was present at ISC West this year, with the name all over the company’s booth. Jeff Gardner, CEO for MONI—now BRINKS Home Security told me that this is the first public appearance of the new name, and that a full rollout of the brand is planned for May.

I walked over to the Nortek booth where Bill Hensley, senior director of marketing, and Anu Herranen, director of marketing and branding, gave me a tour of this year’s booth. Herannen and Hensley highlighted a range of new products, including several new sensors—such as the Stove & Grill Guard, gate and driveway sensor, water sensor, outdoor door and window sensor and a trigger lock sensor—as well as the DIY installed and professionally monitored 2GIG Rely system.

My last meeting on the show floor was with EMERgency24, where I met with Kevin Lehan, public relations manager and branch manager, Kevin McCarthy, national sales manager, and Baird Larson, vice president and director of technology. Lehan said that while the company highlights its new offerings it also wants to convey the strength of its core monitoring capabilities.

Tuesday

I attended the DMP Owners’ Forum this year, held at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center, an interesting building designed by architect Frank Gehry. The building features 75-foot ceilings and 199 windows, no two of which are the exact same in shape or size.

Jon Adams, DMP’s dealer development manager—Southern California, was the host of the forum this year. He took the stage to kick off the event by welcoming all the attendees and giving each person the chance to introduce themselves.

The first keynote was presented by Jason Young, the president of LeadSmart Inc., as well as an author, consultant and trainer. Young discussed different states of being for employees, they can be either low or high in fulfillment, and low or high in performance. The ideal would be an employee who has a high sense of fulfillment as well as a high performance.

Company culture was a main point for Young. He compared, in one instance, the culture of a company to a tree; it is deep rooted, but what is above the surface (the employees) is the part most people see.

In his presentation Young drew from his experiences as a trainer with Southwest Airlines, a company with a clearly defined vision, purpose and mission around industry excellence and appealing customer service.

In creating a culture of service, Young highlighted two elements: cost and distinction. The costs for a company are easily measured, while creating distinction is more subjective and takes effort.

Next, Richard Turner presented “D.E.A.L.T.,” which stands for the dreams, excellence, analysis, loyalty and tenacity need to achieve things in life.

Turner is a card mechanic, with the ability to manipulate a deck of cards for a desired effect. Turner gave a variety of examples, dealing out winning hands, shuffling a deck of cards in each hand, and shuffling a deck back to its original order—four intact progressions from ace through king.

The difficulty of each maneuver was made more impressive by the fact that Turner lost his vision when he was younger.

Turner told stories about other instances in his life, such as in gaining a black belt in karate, where he applied himself. Everyone is dealt a hand in life, sometimes a bad hand, but they choose how to play it, he said.

“In the game of life, stay focused on your game,” said Turner.

Jeff Britton, DMP’s vice president of product design, took the stage to discuss some of the company’s newest developments, including a new integration with the Ring doorbell through DMP’s Virtual Keypad app. The integration also allows DMP to work with Ring cameras, Britton noted.

Jeffrey Cummings is the director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, named after Lou Ruvo who died of Alzheimer’s in 1994. The Cleveland Clinic facility collocated with the Keep Memory Alive Event Center.

Cummings gave an overview of the work that the center does to help put patients first, such as eliminating waiting rooms and focusing on hospital training. The center studies a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, which includes people with Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis as well as boxers and MMA fighters.

Proceeds from events held in the Keep Memory Alive Event Center go to help the research, treatment and clinical studies of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center.

Throughout the event, attendees were shown brief videos that outlined features of DMP’s Virtual Keypad Access, which provides users with a cloud-based access control interface. Several new features for this offering were announced at the forum. Brad Tucker, DMP director of product management and support highlighted some of these, including the recently announced holiday dates feature, allowing users to create exceptions or permissions specific to certain days.

Another new feature is a users page that allows for all users of a system to be managed through the interface. “We’re very excited about this new feature,” Tucker said.

The final keynote for the day was delivered by author Cy Wakeman. She advised the audience on the potential negative impacts—lost work hours—that come through drama in an office. The average person spends about two and a half hours per day in drama at work per day, she said, and that totals up to 816 lost hours per year.

Wakeman leveraged her background as a therapist and a human resources specialist to illustrate the ways in which drama manifests. An employee, for instance, can focus too much on the circumstances of their work situation—elements that may be beyond their control—such as the company’s need to move their department.

An employee expending considerable energy on combating a perceived problem hurts the objective of the company, whereas taking that same energy and working with company leadership eliminates drama and helps the business’ goals.

Each of the speakers had a valuable message for attendees, and I’m glad I was able to attend this year’s DMP Owners’ Forum.

Before the show, Monday

Soon I'll be heading out to Las Vegas for this year's ISC West. I've got a schedule full of meetings on the show floor, including apopintments at the media stage. I look forward to hearing the latest buzz in the industry and seeing what companies are exhibiting this year. Check back here for daily updates about news and events happening around the show!

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

This week Security Systems News welcomed a new team member; Rick Rector is stepping into the role of president and publisher for SSN.

"I'm excited to be working with the talented and dedicated Security Systems News team. And I'm eager to meet as many industry participants as possible at ISC West next week," Rector stated.

While Rick is new to the Security Systems News side, he has worked with United Publications Inc.—SSN’s parent company—since 2000. His career has included positions with media across diverse industries such as gardening and small farming, the State of Maine, international finance, seafood, IT support, gourmet retail food, call centers, fitness clubs and healthcare.

He was a founder and former chairman of the Maine Venture Fund, the venture capital fund of the State of Maine. In addition he was a founder and former executive director of the POPTECH conference, an annual conference exploring the impact of technology on people and society. Currently he serves on the boards of the Points North Institute and the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting as well as the Personnel Board for his town.

If you’d like to contact him about a meeting at ISC West, he can be reached at rrector@securitysystemsnews.com or 207-846-0600 x 267.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

BILOXI, Miss.—As SentryNet is preparing to host its 23rd annual SentryCon, in Biloxi, Miss., from April 23-26, I thought it would be a good time to hear more about the event, its history and what the company is planning for this year. Peggy Page, marketing manager for SentryNet, and Julie Beach, STANLEY Security’s vice president of Sonitrol and SentryNet dealers sales, each shared their perspective on the upcoming conference.

Speakers come from both in- and outside of the industry, according to Page. “We bring speakers in from not only the industry but from the business world as well, to teach them not only how to install a product—because we do have a lot of vendors that participate—but how to build their business, how to grow their business, how to hire employees, how to keep employees, how to face attrition and compete against the big-box companies,” she said.

This year’s speakers include Mark Brown, professional speaker from Southwest Consulting. Brown will discuss recognizing challenges and how to overcome them. Ron Davis, president of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group, will address the current concerns of alarm dealers.

Bob Harris, president of Attrition Busters, is another speaker for this year’s SentryCon. “He’s a great speaker. He spoke at SentryCon last year, too, and he did such a good job [that] we asked him to come back and give us another presentation on attrition management,” Beach said.

In addition to speaking at SentryCon, Harris will also give a presentation at SentryNet’s ISC West booth this year.

“We have a select group of dealers that we invite to be on our dealer advisory board every year,” Beach said, and a dealer advisory board meeting is held in conjunction with SentryCon each year. “The purpose of our dealer advisory board meeting is just to talk about any trends that we’re seeing in the market, any new type of technologies, maybe new threats. … And then we also talk about enhancements to what SentryNet does.”

Beach added, “It’s a really good opportunity for them to network with each other and learn from each other, and even though a lot of them might be competing in the same markets, they’ve really come to form a pretty good working relationship.”

The dealer advisory board was introduced following SentryNet’s acquisition by STANLEY in 2015.

Time management will be a topic at this year’s SentryCon, according to Page. “One of the biggest complaints of installers is they don’t have time. They don’t have time to learn the new technology, they don’t have time to train new employees, they don’t have time to seek new employees. And it’s not necessarily [that] they don’t have time, they’re just not managing their time very well.”

The event also includes social events tailored to the area around the conference, including a baseball game, fishing and golf outings and skeet shooting.

Last year, SentryCon hosted 200 professionals, which has been typical of the past five years, according to Page. “I’m actually thinking attendance is going to be a little higher this year,” she said. Now have over 225 people registered to attend, Beach said about a month prior to the event.

SentryNet has about 765 dealers, spread across the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to Page.

“Originally, SentryCon was part of the Mississippi Alarm Association annual event. We hosted jointly with them for probably the first three or four years before we broke off and made it our own event,” said Page.

What do you most hope attendees walk away from the conference with? “That change isn’t as scary as we think it is, and … that if you’re willing to change with the industry, you’re going to be a lot more successful,” Page responded.

Beach said, “I hope that they walk away with something that they didn’t know already, … something that’s going to help them grow their business or do something to keep their business relevant in this fast-changing market.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

NORTHBROOK, Ill.—Alert Protective Services recently purchased substantially all the assets of Alert Alarm Corporation, based here, which was finalized in February. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The focus is really on making sure there’s no disruption to service, that the new customer base gets to know our friendly and highly skilled staff and becomes familiar with the way to engage with us,” David L. Silberstein, president and CEO of Alert Protective Services, told Security Systems News.

Alert Protective has been implementing new measures to help future growth, both organically and “aggressive pursuit of acquisitions,” according to Silberstein. “Alert Protective Services has invested materially in the last 18 months in operating, accounting, and marketing infrastructure. … The process is fairly seamless for us, given that we have a strong platform to bolt on acquisitions like this,” he said.

“We are opportunistically always in the market for acquisitions and believe we are the perfect partner for owners of alarm companies looking to sell or realize a liquidity event,” said Silberstein.

Alert Protective was founded in 1982, and a majority of the company’s work is residential with a growing commercial division as well. Alert Protective offers smart and interactive alarm systems, fire alarms, video surveillance, intercoms and access control among other services.

Based in Chicago, Alert Protective also has customers in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

Alert Alarm Corp. has customers in the Chicago area. Silberstein said that Alert Alarm’s mix of residential and commercial customers is similar to Alert Protective’s account base. “It overlapped nicely with our current customer base, but definitely helped in terms of expanding a bit more in the Northshore region of Chicagoland,” Silberstein said.

The companies have “similar DNA,” Silberstein said, both focusing on customer service and providing a company with a local feel.

The two companies even have similar names and branding, Silberstein noted. “Alert Alarm Corp. made the transition to the customer base very simple,” he said.

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