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Devcon's past mistakes, future promise at Imperial Capital's SIC

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It was a very full day at the Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference on December 13. Starting before 8 a.m. with John Mack’s “State of Security Finance/M&A Markets” and wrapping up at 5:30 with a very cool panel discussion on BYOD—a great discussion topic, which should be a cause for concern for integrators, manufacturers, and end users alike. We’ll have more on this topic at TechSec in Florida, Feb. 5&6, 2013. Check out this link.  

During the course of the day I heard some cybersecurity experts prognosticating about some frightening stuff and also  listened to presentations from 13 companies (there were 60 presenting throughout the day.) The sessions I saw ranging from systems integrators like Dakota Security to manufacturers like alarm.com and interesting start-ups like Quylar and Applied DNA Sciences.

The format is efficient. Session are 20 minutes and because the presentations are designed for investors, they are refreshingly free of long diatribes about how much more maniacly obsessed XYZ company is with customer service than ABC company.

Early in the day, at the Devcon presentation, Devcon’s chairman of the board, Christopher Munday, spoke frankly about the company’s challenges in the past couple of years—including an ill-fated branch expansion.

He confirmed that the company is actively seeking a buyer and has hired Imperial Capital to "review strategic alternatives." Munday shared several operating and financial metrics to support his assertion that the company is on strong footing.

In 2010 and 2011, Devcon hired many former Brink’s Home Security dealers and quickly opened up 50 branch offices around the country.

That move was a mistake, Munday said. “In 2010 and 2011 we tried to fast-track the company. That did not work,” he said.

Today, Devcon has gone back to its “core business.” Munday said it has spent the past eight months realigning costs and reassessing its regional structure.

Based in Hollywood, Fla., the company now has 11 branches, eight of which are in Florida. It has 136,000 customer sites, 547 employees and $4.3 million in RMR.

While Devcon and Utah-based Pinnacle Security are both owned by Golden Gate Capital, the two are “separate companies with separate debt facilities,” he said.

Devcon’s business mix is 46 percent residential, 35 percent commercial and 19 percent homeowner associations. Its attrition rate varies by division, but is 11 percent across the business.

While Pinnacle does door-to-door sales, Devcon’s residential sales require an average of “1.7 to 2.3 visits—it’s a slower, controlled sale,” Munday said. Those residential accounts typically have a $200 to $225 upfront investment from the customer.

Devcon has two central stations, one in Staten Island, N.Y., and one in Hollywood, Fla. While its branch offices do some commercial work, the bulk of its commercial business comes from two New York City-based businesses: Mutual Central Alarm Services, which does large commercial deals and has many high-end retail customers, and Stat-Land, which services mostly commercial customers in and around Staten Island.

Recent changes have not affected Devcon consumers, Munday said.

The past few years have included investments in “enhanced business intelligence systems.” Those technology investments and software systems could “support tremendous growth nationwide, should [a new owner] choose to do that,” he said.

“After the uncertainty, there is positive momentum at Devcon,” Munday said.