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Monitoring in the IP age

Panelists at ESX discuss how central stations need to evolve to prosper in the age of IP signals
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07/09/2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Good advice on running a central station was in no short supply at ESX. The show’s entire lineup of monitoring track seminars covered virtually every aspect of what it takes to thrive as a central station in 2014 and beyond.

ADT closes Protectron acquisition

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The ADT Corporation announced yesterday that it has closed its acquisition of Canadian monitoring giant Protectron.

ADT, which executed a definitive agreement to acquire Reliance Protectron in April, acquired the company for total cash consideration of CAD $555 million.

ADT has now officially added 400,000 customers and 31,000 accounts north of the border, worth approximately $11 million in RMR.

ADT, which already has two central stations in Canada, adds four more through the acquisition. Protectron, a portfolio company of investment funds managed by Alinda Capital Partners, has 900 employees. Its customer base is 75 percent residential.

ADT’s plan, as stated at the time it agreed to acquire the company, is to use the acquisition as the platform for a stand-alone business in Canada with a dedicated management team, a move designed to address the country’s specific market needs. In a news release, ADT said it planned to continue to using the Protectron brand under ADT ownership.

In late April, following the acquisition agreement, Lee Jackson, regional VP Canada, said it was too early to say whether ADT would keep all six Canadian central stations in operation. He noted that ADT has yet to determine which resources and administrative functions it will transfer to Canada to supports its expanded account base in that country, now up to 800,000.

The acquisition goes down as ADT’s largest since becoming an independent company, far surprassing its 2013 Devcon deal, according to John Mack, EVP and managing director at Imperial Capital, who spoke to SSN when the agreement to acquire became public. At the time, Mack said the deal signals a return to “growth initiatives [through] high quality acquisitions” and predicted the deal would help ADT’s attrition profile while bolstering its enhanced services sales.

It will be interesting to wait and see if Mack's words prove to be prophetic.

ESX seminar explores new models for customer engagement

 - 
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It’s that time of year: ESX is closing in on us, and my schedule for the show is beginning to take form. I’m envisioning a high-energy, well-paced show, with an array of educational sessions geared to new and important topics, and a show floor conducive to getting the skinny on the trends shaping the industry.

I wanted to use this space to draw attention to a seminar I’ll be moderating Tuesday, June 24 at 3:15 titled “Monitoring: A Quality Customer Touch Point.”

I’ll be talking to Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, Tom Szell, SVP at ADS, and Brandon Savage, SVP of customer experience and operations at Alarm Capital Alliance / My Alarm Center about the new means of customer engagement brought on by the rise of mobile apps and interactive services, and how those in the industry can leverage these advances to minimize attrition.  

With Nashville roughly ten days away, I encourage folks (particularly those on the monitoring side) to contact me in the days ahead to arrange a meeting on the show floor. Given the structure of the show, and its emphasis on education, I don’t anticipate fodder for conversation being in any short supply. Industry shows like ESX offer a valuable stage not only for discussing initiatives specific to a single business, but also broader trends affecting the industry writ large. I look forward to chatting.

Investor speculates on Monitronics outlook

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greater visibility, broader market acceptance and (for some central stations) more wholesale monitoring accounts are just some of the benefits often mentioned in connection with the entrance of cablecos and telecoms into security.

A recent Wholesale Monitoring study by the Barnes Associates (co-sponsored by the CSAA and SSN) largely attributed the 19 percent growth the segment enjoyed in 2013 to the influence of the new entrants. To be sure, there seems to be a prevailing belief that the rangy, big-money advertising campaigns of such companies can be the proverbial “rising tide that lifts all boats.”

That’s not to say there’s no ambivalence. That was apparent enough in a recent SSN News Poll that dealt with the topic. A number of readers expressed concern about the long-term viability of smaller players in the home security space, given the influx of these major corporations who have already made inroads into the home through Internet and cable, and thus have that previously established “stickiness.”

That ambivalence was also reflected in a recent analysis by Rajiv Bhatia on Seeking Alpha, a crowdsourced platform for investment-based ideas, who discussed what the new market players could mean for Ascent Capital, the holding company of Monitronics. Bhatia acknowledged that the company faces “increased competition” from the large new cableco/telecom entrants, which he says are gaining traction despite unsuccessful forays into the market in the past.

Regarding Monitronics’ business model, Bhatia offered a mixture of encouraging and somewhat cautionary words:

“While management and sell-side analysts believe that Ascent is better insulated from competition via its dealer-only business model, Ascent faces upward pressure on the multiple it pays for its dealer contracts from competitors. Additionally, its growth through its internal channels is weakening.”

Those multiples, he noted earlier, are based on an RMR multiple of 50. Ascent faces “upward pressure on the multiple it pays to acquire contracts,” he said.

With more than 1 million subscribers, Monitronics trails only ADT in terms of marketshare in the alarm monitoring space. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the market presence of both companies as the cableco/telecom ads continue to appear on our television screens.

AES' IntelliStart service making an impact

In addition to the training service, the company launched a pair of "productivity tools" at ISC West
 - 
04/16/2014

LAS VEGAS—Since August 2012, when AT&T announced it will discontinue its 2G service on Jan. 1, 2017, talk about the need for central stations and dealers to protect themselves from the adverse effects of cellular “sunsets” has picked up.  

San Diego central earns Five Diamond Certification

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alarm Relay, a UL-listed alarm monitoring company based in San Diego, became the latest central station to earn Five Diamond Certification from the Central Station Alarm Association, the company recently announced. Fewer than 200 central stations in the country have the certification.

Among the most rigorous requirements for completing the Five Diamond program include the commitment to random inspections by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as FM Global, Underwriters’ Laboratories or InterTek/ETL, and central stations must also comply with quality criteria standards developed by those same organizations.

Five Diamond Certification also testifies that 100 percent of central station operators at a given company have been certified through the CSAA online training course, which covers all phases of central station communications with law enforcement, customers, and fire and emergency centers.

For an operator to achieve certification, they must demonstrate (among other things) proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false dispatches, and in communications with Public Safety Answering Points.

That latter requirement is bound to be vitally important as central stations around the country forge more partnerships with PSAPs, allowing the ASAP to PSAP program to expand. 

Alarm.com puts its own spin on PERS

The offering, called Wellness, leverages sensors, panic buttons and mobile notifications
 - 
01/21/2014

VIENNA, Va.—Alarm.com, an interactive services provider based here, unveiled an offering at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that blends traditional PERS elements with the sensors and home automation features the company has built its brand around.  

AT&T rolls out mPERS unit

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

AT&T has officially launched its mobile PERS unit, called the EverThere, a small wearable unit manufactured by Numera Libris. The device automatically detects falls, has two-way emergency calling, and will deliver both enterprise and direct-to-consumer solutions.

Chris Penrose, SVP, AT&T, emerging devices, shed some light on AT&T's plans for channeling the product to market. “In terms of end-users, unlike traditional PERS, which target individuals in their 80s, this mobile solution would offer true independence and freedom for the healthy aging population as well as those living with chronic conditions.”

For me, AT&T’s announcement has a touch of synchronicity.  For something of a niche offering, mPERS has come up quite a bit over the past two weeks, the topic surfacing in conversations with Josh Garner, CEO of AvantGuard Monitoring, and Kristin Hebert, dealer relations at Acadian Monitoring Services, who both said their companies have made strides with the fledgling offering. Though traditional units still comprise about 90 percent of their PERS account bases, the gains do represent some modest traction for a market that was essentially a non-starter some three or four years ago.

Unlike the market for traditional PERS, which consensus says is poised to explode, mPERS tends to have a few more skeptics. A common critique I hear about mPERS is that if you’re pitching the product to a healthy, ambulatory, active senior demographic, that very same demographic, by virtue of being healthy, ambulatory and active, will see no reason to pay for the unit. Another position I encounter is that cell phones, in all their ubiquity, have all but usurped the value of mPERS units.

This second point is worthy of consideration, but as AT&T’s device illustrates, the automated response provided by certain mPERS units or even professionally monitored mobile apps offers some differentiation.

As always, time will tell whether mPERS adoption will be buoyed along with traditional PERS, as the latter makes its projected rise in the market. As these markets become more valuable, I’ll be interested to see how some of the central stations fare as competition proliferates, both in the industry and outside of it.

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.

SecurTek taps new CEO

 - 
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.

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