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Barnes Associates wholesale monitoring survey finds accounts up 19 percent

Michael Barnes suspects cableco/telecom influx could be behind ‘unprecedented growth’
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03/12/2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—Much can be gleaned from the fourth annual Barnes Associates/SSN/CSAA wholesale monitoring survey, but if anything stands out about 2013, it’s that overall growth was gaudy.

Guardian Protection Services hires VP of dealer program

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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.

Dynamark hires Groff, seeks ‘nationwide footprint’

Hank Groff, formerly of Guardian Protection Services, to lead new partner program that will include revenue sharing
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11/06/2013

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Dynamark Security Centers has hired Hank Groff, formerly director of the dealer program at Guardian Protection Services, as SVP of sales.

Dynamark Convention wrap up

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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.

Dynamark Convention: day two

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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. 

Dynamark acquires Ohio central station

Deal is part of expansion strategy to new markets
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07/02/2013

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—More than two years after re-entering the monitoring space, Dynamark’s resurgence continues with the acquisition of Security Services Center, a central station based in Dayton, Ohio.

Riders on the storm: Central stations take Sandy in stride

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The snowy remnants of Hurricane Sandy are still blowing across the ridges of West Virginia, but the worst is over for the Eastern Seaboard. Now the recovery begins. And as is the case with any natural disaster, preparation holds the key to the extent of the difficulties ahead.

The lesson—one that’s often learned the hard way—is that it pays to do your homework and have a backup plan in place. The monitoring industry prides itself on that, of course, a fact that was validated by a quick SSN survey of central stations in the Northeast after the storm. It showed that while Sandy packed a tremendous punch, the industry was ready to handle it.

Long Island, N.Y., was one of the areas hit hardest by the storm, with thousands of homes damaged and nearly 1 million customers left without power Monday night. Andy Lowitt, vice president of dealer relations for Hicksville-based Metrodial, said via email Tuesday that despite the horrific damage in the area, the central station weathered the storm.

“Lots of downed trees and power lines … 912,000 [on Long Island] without power today versus 934,000 this morning, so tons of customers with beeping keypads, smokes and carbons,” Lowitt wrote. “Our natural-gas generator powered our central from 3 p.m. yesterday until power was restored today around 2 p.m. We had some valiant efforts of operators making it in during the day yesterday. Most PDs and some FDs stopped responding during the overnight hours and at one point we had over 3,000 signals in queue.”

New Jersey was also pounded by Sandy, but COPS Monitoring in Williamstown was prepared and took it all in stride, according to Executive Vice President Don Maden.

“In short, we proactively re-routed a percentage of alarm traffic away from N.J. to other sites, and significantly increased staffing at our other four central station locations,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. “We had 100 percent uptime in N.J. with services, did not lose power, and handled nearly double the normal alarm traffic across our network of central stations yesterday. Today, as expected, was heavy with alarm activity as well. [Generators] kicked on due to a few power flickers, but the grid stayed up.”

Don Piston, vice president of sales and marketing for Dynamark Monitoring in Hagerstown, Md., also reported heavy alarm volume but said “we knew that was coming.”

“We did great. We got battered with AC power loss and low battery signals because of all the power outages, so the traffic was just huge,” he told SSN on Wednesday morning. “But we sailed right through. We had the staffing in place. It’s almost no news because we did everything we were supposed to do.”

Despite Sandy’s mammoth strength and reach, it didn’t cause a lot of damage in Syracuse, N.Y.—just 250 miles from New York City and the home of Rapid Response Monitoring. Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations, said Wednesday that at the height of the storm, “we were getting pizzas delivered by the local pizza place. [Sandy] really wasn’t a big deal. It was like business as usual.”

That might have been the case meteorologically, but it wasn’t the case when it came to alarm traffic. At the peak, “we were seeing well over 100 signals a second coming in,” Hertel said, adding that Rapid is well versed in storm preparation and had extra staffing in place.

“We’re back to normal shifts today,” he said. “The technology did what it was supposed to do, the people did what they were supposed to do, and quite honestly we couldn’t be happier with the result. We even saved a few lives along the way.”

Dynamark helping dealers open door to Web

Company makes ‘big push’ at convention to promote online marketing support
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10/03/2012

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Most alarm dealers know the drill about the Web. They realize they should be using it to help their business gain and maintain an edge, but where do you start? Who do you call? And what about the time and expense?

SSN poll takers favor national monitoring license

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05/12/2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—While there were strong opinions on both sides, a recent unofficial poll conducted by Security Systems News showed a clear majority of respondents favored national licensing.