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ISC West coming up fast

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Will you be at ISC West? Will you have news about residential security, home automation, impactful legislation or end-user focuses that our Security Systems News readers need to know? If so, please let me know.

I’m putting together my show schedule now. Because the show is so huge and offers up so many opportunities, it’s difficult to meet up with everyone I’d like to, but I do my best, as do my SSN colleagues.

I’d like to hear about new and emerging resi securty technology, its current uses and successes. I can’t write about every new product out there, but if you’ll have end users in attendance to tell me how it works for them, that works for me.

It’s a busy show so let’s—and I mean this politely and beneficially to all—try not to waste each other’s time. I’ve booked booth visits and attended ISC press conferences before that have promised news for our readers that just haven’t panned out. As readers of SSN, you know the types of articles we report on and print.

Please contact me at acanfield@securitysystemsnews.com with your news items.

Also, we’ll be holding our annual “Meet the Editors” event starting at 10 a.m. April 15 at our media stage right near the entrance of the show floor. Please stop by to say hi to us. It’s completely informal, no presentations, just a way to reconnect and in some cases put names with faces.

I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

'Gone Girl' for the win

Film receives annual award for using security tech in plot
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02/26/2015

REDONDO BEACH, Calif.—The winner of the 2015 Morepheus Award is David Fincher, film director of the thriller, “Gone Girl.”

Vivint and Undercover Boss: Lessons learned

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen wasn’t “fast enough” to work in one of his own warehouses, was “moving a little slow” on an installation job and should have been more adept at handling a basic tool, according to two of his  employees.

Pedersen got those professional reviews during his stint on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Feb. 20. I wrote about that here. During that experience, he says, he learned much about being a company leader and that “details matter most.”

For the popular reality show, Pedersen posed incognito, which included wearing a wig, as a Vivint trainee and met with four of his company’s employees at their workplaces.

First he worked with Mark on an install job that involved being up on a roof. That encounter enlightened him on the need for Vivint workers to have proper, non-slippery footwear.

He then worked with a monitoring center rep, Sandy. Pedersen, handling a call, disconnected it inadvertently. During one call, static was prevalent and Sandy told Pedersen that the system needed some fine-tuning.

On his third stint he worked at one of the company’s warehouses with Alma and was surprised when he had to fill out a work order on paper rather than digitally. Alma is the employee who told him he wasn’t suited to work for Vivint: “Too slow.”

He also was told he was working too slowly by employee Will during Pedersen’s final “Undercover Boss” gig at a smart-home installation. And, Will added, Pedersen needed practice working with a basic tool—a drill.

When I talked to Pedersen before the show aired, he couldn’t say all that much about the outcome of the show due to CBS restrictions. But I did catch up with him via email this week to get more details.

Here’s what Pedersen had to say.

Q: What was the top lesson you gleaned from being on the show?

A: As a leader, it’s your job to look at the big picture and focus on the vision of the company, but I learned that when it comes to employees, the details matter most. The smallest upgrades in equipment and installation hardware can shave off significant amounts of time and stress for employees. Little things really do make a big difference to the people you employ.

Q: How will the show have an impact on the way your company is run/managed in the future?

A: After each day on a new job [for the show], I would get on a conference call with senior management and discuss what I learned and potential improvements pertaining to that job. And while the experience hasn’t changed the way we run the company in a major way, we have made several changes in equipment and processes. 

The most significant change we implemented was announcing a brand-new facility for our monitoring professionals. As I worked alongside Sandy, she had interference issues with her equipment. In addition to improving phone cords and headsets for Sandy and her coworkers, we decided to give them a beautiful new facility. 

Q: Any other insights? Would you do this again?

A: The most interesting part was just being able to work alongside my employees as a regular guy, rather than the CEO. I truly enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and learning about their backgrounds and the things they’ve overcome. I’ve always believed in cultivating strong relationships with my employees, and this experience reaffirmed the importance of that for me.

While not every executive has the chance to go undercover like I did, taking the time to work side by side and connect with employees is important for all members of the leadership team. I plan to give this opportunity to other executives so they can benefit from the invaluable insight that comes from being on the ground. (Although, I won’t make any of them wear a wig!)

I don’t think I could get away with going undercover again. Word has definitely gotten out around the company, but I did really enjoy going out in the field and working with employees across the business. I would definitely do that again, and I’ll probably take some of our other executives along with me next time. 

Pedersen also heard the four employees’ personal stories and responded to their hardships—widowhood, bankruptcy, cancer treatments, custody disagreements and more—with compassion and with his wallet. Kudos to him.

 

 

Vivint boss goes undercover

TV show experience offers insights
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02/18/2015

PROVO, Utah—Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen’s incognito stint on “Undercover Boss” prompted him to make some “tweaks” in his business, he said.

ADT puts muscle, aka Ving Rhames, into ad campaign

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

BOCA RATON, Fla.—He had commanding roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “Mission Impossible” and starred in HBO’s “Don King: Only in America.” Now award-winning actor Ving Rhames is putting his tough-guy persona and deep voice to work for ADT.

Well, wait a sec. According to Rhames, he’s not just working for the huge home security firm; he says in the new commercials that he “is ADT.”

The ad campaign seeks to set ADT apart from the increasing number of smart home products available to consumers. The spots are based on the premise that consumers often mistake convenience “with the added safety of professionally monitored security,” ADT said in a prepared statement.

In the ads, Rhames asks, “What good is a smart home if it’s not a safe home?”

“Our new campaign addresses the desire for connectivity, control and most important of all—security. Self-monitored security solutions do not provide police, fire or emergency medical response in the event of an emergency,” Jerri DeVard, chief marketing officer of ADT, said in the statement.

Rhames says in one of the spots I viewed: “Strong isn’t wrong, I’m ADT, I oughta know. But what makes brawn even better is brains. See, I’m both the big brain at the center of your peace of mind and the big muscle to keep the peace.”

Big brain, big muscle, gotcha. I'm not going to argue with Mr. Ving. Good ad campaign, I think. What do you think?

Speco launches factory outlet

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York-based Speco Technologies, which provides residential and commercial video surveillance, electronics accessories and audio products, has opened an online factory outlet store.

That’s right, a factory outlet store.

Security Systems News, being just down the road a piece from Freeport, Maine, one of the nation’s outlet meccas, knows a thing or two about factory outlet stores. A lot. But an outlet security store? Hmmm. That’s interesting. Is this a new trend?

Speco’s online outlet store will offer limited-inventory closeout and refurbished items at “bargain prices,” according to a statement from the company.

A perusal of the e-store site found a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras, monitors, NVRs and power supplies and switchers, among other products.  

Specostore.com is a full e-commerce site with SSL encryption, which allows users to browse and purchase products and track and follow up on orders, all through a secure login, the company says. All products sold through Specostore.com will have a 90-day warranty.

A call into Speco wasn’t answered by press time, but we’ll certainly update if we can.

Penn's gov-elect will pay for own security at private residence

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pennsylvania's governor-elect, Tom Wolf, plans to use his own money to rent office space for state police security officers to guard him at his private residence, according to a Wolf transition team spokesman.

We here at Security Systems News would also like to know what security technology Wolf already has in place, or will be putting in place, at his home in light of this announcement.

An Associated Press report said that Wolf, who has has declined to live at the official governor’s residence in Harrisburg, will pay out of his own pocket to secure his personal residence in Mount Wolf, about 20 miles south of Harrisburg.

Wolf, who takes office Jan. 20, will personally pay the rent for space in a building across the street from his home. Wolf transition team spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan told AP that he didn’t know if the security team would be allowed inside Wolf’s residence when he is there.

Wolf, who reported $1.3 million in adjusted gross income in 2013, also has turned down the governor’s salary of $191,000.

Security Systems News has a call in to Wolf’s transition team inquiring about any security technology he may be using. Stay tuned.

B Safe acquires Dunlap Electronic Security

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11/26/2014

WILMINGTON, Del.—B Safe, a regional provider of security and fire alarms, has acquired Dunlap Electronic Security of Red Bank, N.J.

The purchase of Dunlap furthers B Safe’s growth plan, Philip Gardner, B Safe president, said in a prepared statement.

Scout Alarm system now shipping to crowdfund backers

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11/26/2014

CHICAGOHomesecurity systems provider Scout Alarm is finalizing partnerships with Lockitron and IFTTT that will allow consumers to integrate Scout’s home security product with Lockitron and IFTTT by the end of the year, according to Scout.

Some takeaways from Honeywell's Connect2014

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla.—“The Big Picture” was the focus of Honeywell’s annual event for authorized dealers, Connect2014.

The conference, held here, started Nov. 13, but the glitzy kickoff was on Friday morning with a general session that was quite a production, featuring a live orchestra, big screens, top execs, award winners and more.

Marek Robinson, president of the First Alert Professional and CSS Authorized Dealer programs, told the audience that “The Big Picture” means taking a step back and looking at everything that’s going on in the world and the industry. “How does it impact the industry? What are your resources to deal with it?” Those are the questions dealers should be asking, he said.

People are spending from three to five hours a day on their devices, said Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security, and they’re inundated with technology.  Honeywell and others have been waiting for this trend for a long time, but that also means a slew of new entrants are going after a piece of Honeywell’s pie—31 new start-ups just in October, he said.  However, the power of the Honeywell brand and the upcoming investments the company will make in technology, marketing and advertising will prevail, he said.

Alex Ismail, Honeywell Automation and Control Systems president and CEO, said Honeywell aspires to be the Apple of industrial companies when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. A five-star customer experience was a recurring theme throughout the two-hour session. (More on that later.)

Inder Reddy, president of Honeywell Security Products Americas, reminded dealers that while they need to adapt to the new environment they also need to stay grounded in the fact that they are protecting families, homes and businesses. “Security is still central to the Connected Home and Connected Building,” he said.

Authorized dealer tenure awards were presented, and the general session wrapped up with a moving tribute to the folks who helped saved a little girl’s life—they received the Life Safety award. A 6-year-old boy, a nurse, a Palm Bay, Fla., police officer and the Palm Bay Fire Department all played a crucial role in resuscitating an 8-year-old girl who was found unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool. She was on stage to present the awards to her heroes.

The second general session of the day featured a boisterous Rudy Wolter, director of the North America Region of Citigroup Security and Investigative Services and a key player in Honeywell’s End Users Group. A “five-star” experience for end users is “partnership, not perfection,” he said.  (More on this later, too.)

Raymond Dean, former president and founder of PEI and now senior vice president at MSA Systems Integration, spoke on treating customers as a company’s best assets.

“Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you,” Dean said.

Visit customers regularly when there are no problems and they won’t associate you with negative connotations; don’t send new hires out to a homeowner without a formal introduction from someone they know; show respect, he said.

“Growth makes us complacent, the roots of our success get forgotten,” Dean said. Customers made you a success, don’t drift away from customer service, he added.

Keynoter Jeffrey Gitomer, a best-selling author and sales and customer service professional, gave a humorous and insightful talk to the appreciative crowd. He discussed the need to be adept at social media to boost company reputations and branding, because “the old way of selling doesn’t work anymore. Social media has changed the way you sell and serve forever.” (More on this later, too!)

I also attended three breakout sessions, the first of which was “Communication Strategies—2G, 3G, 4G and Beyond,” Dan Jarnigan of Guardian Systems, Dave Hood of EPS and Alan Buffaloe of Gill Security discussed their approaches to customer upgrades.

Next was a discussion on the Connected Home with Jeremy Bates of Bates Security, Larry Comeaux of Acadiana Security Plus and Rence Coassin of American Total Protection. The panel discussed tailoring “connectedness” to meet customers’ needs, while reminding customers that security comes first.

Honeywell’s Jan McBride presented “The next BIG THING: Emerging Technologies.” It’s not just wearable devices, she said, showcasing a number of other products—“not sure if they’re creepy or cool”— that could impact the industry. Those include Bluetooth-enabled gloves; smart appliances that can text you when, for example, your clothes are finished in the dryer and refrigerators that can track your eating habits; smart doorbells that allow you to “answer the door” via cellphone even when you’re not home; and home robots that can not only read to your children, but can remind you of appointments and take photos of your events so you can be in the pictures.

Eye-tracking technology, gesture recognition (to pull down window blinds, for example) are all here now, McBride said. “These trends will be a driving force in terms of home automation. The impact on our business is whether these things are of real value or are these applications a passing fad?”

On the final day of Connect 2014, Steve Means, district sales manager for Honeywell in Texas, encouraged dealers to leverage Honeywell’s services to grow their businesses. “Connected solutions are what your customers want, and it will be good for your business,” he said during the morning’s general session. From detecting mold to being notified when kids get home from school, along with myriad other applications, it’s the way to go, he said.

Russ Ackerman, district sales director for Vector Security, said his company’s RMR will be up 20 percent this year because of Connected Home. He doesn’t care about competition. “I don’t care what Comcast and AT&T are doing. Competition is for crybabies, sissies and whiners. I don’t want to compete. I want to dominate.” Connected Home will “help get us there,” he said.

New selling techniques are required. Where before Vector would use with its customers a “security evaluation questionnaire,” now it uses a “lifestyle analysis,” Ackerman said. Vector gives prospective customers a test drive of its products rather than “glossy pictures” of those products. It shares a two-way voice demo during the sales presentation.

“We’re closing 83 percent of presentations on the first call,” he said.

Other speakers during the general session drilled down on Connected Building for the commercial sector.

I attended two educational sessions later in the day, one on “Building Your Brand,” the other “Creating a Culture People Love.”

John Schwartz, marketing director for ADS, discussed a number of branding myths—for example, that branding is complicated, expensive and had to be done solely by marketing professionals; advertising vs. branding—advertising is pushing the message out, branding is solidifying that message; and social media’s power, both pro and con—“if someone is mad at you, they can go on every social media outlet and let everyone know.”

Sales people should be involved in branding, with input from customers, Schwartz said. Companies should pick one word they want to be associated with, such as “trust,” and take it from there, he said. Facebook can be used for “sideways selling:” let people know how your company helps the homeless or conducts other community service projects, he said.

At my final Connect2014 educational session, LOUD Security’s John Loud explained how his company, with 57 employees, has built its culture to be engaging and fun. It all starts with company leadership, he said. Events for employees, teamwork and recognition all matter, he said. (Read more about this later, too!)

Complete with a ‘70s Fever Costume Party and the Awards Gala, Connect2014 put on a big event in keeping with its “Big Picture” theme.

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