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Connecting—with costumes and without—at Honeywell's Connect 2012

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Imagine Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell Security Products, lumbering about in an inflatable sumo wrestler suit. Envision Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, stalking around in a long cape as Count Dracula, looking for blood as well as donations to SIAC. And then picture Patrick Egan, president of Select Security, scarily attractive in drag as a red-lipsticked brunette in an elegant gown.

Those attending the Honeywell First Alert Professional Convention here in Hollywood, Fla. didn't need to conjure up those images—they were all there for everyone to see tonight as security dealer attendees let their hair down (quite literally in Egan’s case) at a belated Halloween costume party.

They got into the fun with inventive costumes, which included a nun and monk, wizards with tall hats, a beekeeper, a gladiator, a Wizard of Oz scarecrow, Popeye, cave men and cave women in leopard skin clothing and one brave dealer in a Scottish plaid kilt and matching tam–o'–shanter.

It may sound silly, but it turned out to be a good way to break the ice at a networking event—and it was just another way to connect at Connect 2012.

Earlier today, Harkins, in his more familiar attire of a suit and tie, explained why the event was given that name this year.

Speaking on the first full day of activities of the annual event, which launched yesterday and runs into this weekend, Harkins said, “Why the name ‘Connect’? … We wanted to rebrand the entire experience.”

Networking was one reason, he said—“connecting companies and individuals.”

But he said the word also shows how home automation services are transforming the security industry. “It’s not just a security space anymore,” he said. “It’s a connected home space.” And, he added, “we think interactive home services will continue to expand under our brand Total Connect.”

Harkins’ talk this morning also included a sober moment that contrasted with the lighthearted event that ended the day.

He asked everyone in the audience to pause a minute to think about fellow FAP members who couldn’t make the event because of Hurricane Sandy.

He said this year’s event was slated to have had pretty much the largest attendance ever, with 165 companies represented and 740 people total. But he said about 50 of those companies were “in the eye of the storm,” which early this week battered the East Coast, especially New Jersey, where Honeywell is located, so some people couldn’t attend.

However, Harkins said he was impressed with the numbers of people who did turn up despite problems like delayed flights and power outages in their homes. “There has to be about 400 to 500 people here,” he said. And some attendees were still arriving Friday evening.

Harkins already has set his sights on 2013, which will be the 24th year for the dealer program, which Honeywell bills as the “longest running” in the industry. “Our goal is 250 companies and 1,000 people next year,” Harkins said.

And what will the name be in 2013? Expect something similar. Harkins said that “Connect” also will be “a brand going forward.”

‘Make sure mobile is part of the solution you offer’

Industry experts say mobile apps must be part of a successful security business today
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09/07/2012

A smart revolution quietly occurred this year—one that’s dramatically changing the security industry.

As of February, a Nielsen report showed, about half of all Americans with mobile phones—49.7 percent—now own smartphones. And the number of smartphone owners is rapidly growing.

Getting to know the media can improve ROI

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Erica Wood, co-owner and chief security officer of Dayton, Ohio-based American Fire & Security, said she kept getting turned down by a business newspaper in her community when she tried to get it to publish news about her company.

It wasn’t until she met with the publication’s editor that she found out the paper only wanted stories focused on business growth. Now Wood knows how to tailor press releases about her company to win the interest of that publication.

Talking to editors and reporters to find out what kinds of information they’re looking for was one of the tips offered during a panel discussion I moderated today at the ESX show in Nashville, titled “Maximize Your Media Relations ROI.”  The focus was on how to get favorable publicity to help market your company.

The session included lively discussion from audience members such as Wood, who shared their experiences and posed questions to the panel of public relations experts: Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator, Select Security; Beth Welch, public relations manager, Honeywell Fire Systems; and Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer and VP, residential sales, Securewatch24.

Panel members offered a number of tips. Welch urged use of social media sites like Facebook and Linked In to get information out about company news and also make connections. And she said to make sure that media outlets correct any mistakes they make in writing about your company online, because those kinds of stories “last forever.”

Welch said that sometimes sending a compelling photo along with a press release can help catch a publication’s interest.

When it comes to deciding what’s newsworthy enough about a company to put in a press release, Stuck suggested to the audience that they ask themselves, “So what?” If they can’t answer that question, he said, it’s probably not news.

Among tips from Mitton, a former television journalist, was to work to establish friendly relationships with reporters and editors, making it easier to pitch them story ideas.

ESX recorded the session—something it’s doing for all the seminars offered here—so it will be available online. I hope you’ll find what we had to say rewarding for your company!

Day 2 at ESX: Looking ahead, on technology, leaders, and sales

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“Forward thinking.” That the term that Hank Groff, national director of Pittsburgh-based Guardian Protection, used today when I asked him about his impression of the second day of the ESX show, being held here in Nashville.

Groff told me that’s a theme he’s noticing at the show, and said it dovetails nicely with Guardian’s approach to the latest technology.

“We’re really driving our dealers to sell everything cellular and mobile app technology,” he said.

He also said a Texas dealer is the first among Guardian’s dealers to go completely paperless. Every one of the dealer’s approximately 40-50 sales reps has an iPad, which they use to do everything from the presentation in the home to the contract, he said.

His comments got me thinking about other aspects of the show that also were about the industry adapting to the future.

Take this morning, for example. I attended the ESA Eye Opener Breakfast, which honored a group of Security Systems News20 under 40 Class of 2012 professionals.

A panel discussion—led by SSN editor Martha Entwistle and featuring class member Laurie Jackson, VP gaming sales, North American Video; Mike Jagger, CEO and founder of Provident Security and an alumnus of the SSN 20 under 40 Class of 2008; and also Mel Mahler, CEO of ADS Security and a mentor for the class of 2012—talked about such topics as what companies can do to encourage their employees to become future leaders of the industry. You can’t get much more forward-looking than that.

Afterwards, I chatted with Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell Security Products, who attended the breakfast and said he found the panel discussion enlightening.

Harkins said Honeywell was not introducing any new products at this show. Of course, the company just announced earlier this month the release of some very forward-looking technology:  the LYNX Touch 5100, the latest version of the company’s popular self-contained wireless touch-screen security system; and the Wi-Fi version of Tuxedo Touch, a touchscreen security and automation controller with Z-Wave functionality.

Among other activities on Tuesday, I also attended a seminar titled “Achieving RMR from Home & Building Automation,” which focused on how market leaders are creating new RMR models around home automation. The panelists were Patrick Egan, president and founder of the Pennsylvania-based super-regional Select Security, and Greg McLochlin, head of the Honeywell Security Dealer Development Group.

During the discussion, McLochlin expressed a forward-thinking idea about the entrance of telecoms and cablecos into the security market.

“Are they a threat to RMR or an opportunity for RMR?” he asked. “Are they turning over rocks we never thought about turning over anymore?”

He suggested the latter. “They have a different view of the market,” McLochlin said. “They see it as a lifestyle sale as opposed to a life safety sale. We as independent dealers can learn from them."

ESX 2012: Maximize your ROI—by talking to the likes of me!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Want a tip? One of you best ways to market your company may just well be contacting me.

No, I don’t have an inflated ego. What I’m talking about is good old-fashioned publicity about your company that I and other members of the media can provide—it’s still one of the best content market strategies there is. And you can learn about how to get the most out of media relations by attending a seminar I’m moderating this week at the ESX show in Nashville.

The seminar is called “Maximize Your Media Relations ROI,” and will take place Wed., June 27, from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in room 208. You’ll get lots of tips from our panel of public relations experts: Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator, Select Security; Beth Welch, public relations manager, Honeywell Fire Systems; and Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer and VP, residential sales, Securewatch24.

We’ll answer such questions as “How do I figure out what is newsworthy about my company?” and “How do I build a media contact list?” Also, you’ll learn the difference between working with broadcast, print and online media.

I hope you’ll attend this session and let us share with you the best ways to publicize your company’s information and expertise. See you in Nashville!

Select Security lifesaver for nonprofit that helps disaster victims

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

This Thursday, on Thanksgiving Day, Tad Agoglia, founder of First Response Team of America—a nonprofit that uses specialized equipment to do rescue and recovery work around the nation for victims of such disasters as the deadly tornado that hit Joplin, Mo. in May—will be honored in a special television program called CNN Heroes. Agoglia’s organization also was the winner of a Special Community Service Award at the Honeywell First Alert Professional 2011 Convention, held earlier this month in Scottsdale.

But Agoglia credits Patrick Egan, founder and president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Select Security, with helping to make the work he does possible.

That’s because when Agoglia relocated his organization to Lancaster about 15 months ago—attracted by the hiring opportunities in the agricultural community of a workforce skilled in operating heavy machinery—Egan stepped up and volunteered to provide First Response with 10,000 square feet of warehouse space, for free.

The clean, heated, well-lighted space now provides a home for the tractor trailers and other heavy equipment that First Response, which Agoglia said is supported by companies such as Caterpillar Inc. and Peterbilt Motors Co., needs to mobilize at a moment’s notice to race to the next disaster anywhere nationwide.

Agoglia said others in the Lancaster community responded to an ad he placed seeking donated space as a home for First Response with offers of rental opportunities. But Egan understood the organization needed a donation, Agoglia said.

 “The donation came with no strings attached,” Agoglia told me. He said that’s actually a rare occurrence in charity work.

He said Egan told him he was donating use of the space—for which Egan could have gotten $10,000 a month in rent—because he felt that as a security provider, Select Security shared similar “core values” with First Response of helping people.

When I asked Egan about the donation, he brushed aside any praise. “It’s worth it,” he said.

Select Security heads West...again

Earlier this month this super-regional expanded into Utah and California, now it has acquired in Ohio
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10/20/2011

LANCASTER, Pa.—Select Security—a super-regional that made news by branching out into door knocking in Pennsylvania and now California and Utah—recently acquired a security company in Medina, Ohio, with more than 3,000 accounts.

Select Security branches out to Utah

Super-regional to open Orem, Utah office
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10/06/2011

LANCASTER, Pa.—Select Security--a super-regional based here that has spent the past two summers trying to beat the big summer-model companies at their own game by running its own door-knocking program--is upping the ante.

State Systems adds sprinkler division

Company says sprinkler services answer customers’ demand for ‘one-stop shopping’
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05/05/2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—State Systems, a provider of life safety and security systems based here, has joined a small but growing trend in the industry: the addition of fire sprinkler division.

PA fire sprinkler measure under attack

But NFSA predicts eventual requirement of sprinklers in new homes
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03/10/2011

PATTERSON, N.Y.—A new Pennsylvania law requiring automatic fire sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes as of Jan. 1 was battling for survival this week in the General Assembly.

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