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The Protection Bureau moves into Virginia

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Systems integrator The Protection Bureau has opened a new branch office in Richmond, Va.

I talked to Matthew Ladd, CEO of The Protection Bureau, about the new office today. “We had an opportunity that came to us with people in Richmond who wanted to work for the Protection Bureau,” he said. The integrator has 152 clients in the area and has had “an ongoing service need in region,” he said.

“It was the perfect fit and opportunity. It made sense to open a branch office and we were able to do that with two technicians, a branch manager and a part-time office person,” Ladd said.

“It all came together in two weeks,” he said. The new staff members visited The Protection Bureau headquarters in Philadelphia last week and this week the office manager is in Richmond “teaching them about our systems and procedure so they can blend into The Protection Bureau way of doing business.

The Richmond office will service current and future Protection Bureau customers and Security-Net customers as well. The branch manager will handle sales initially, but Ladd plans to add more sales personnel. “We’ll look to expand and grow the office and make it another success for The Protection Bureau,” he said.

The Protection Bureau does about $15 million in sales annually and has 97 employees. In addition to its headquarters in Philly, it has a satellite office in Plainfield, N.J. That office has three technicians, but Ladd said it's not a branch office. “It’s a service point for our clients in North Jersey through New York and into New England.”

Ladd said that business in 2015 has been good and he’s hearing the same thing from other integrators. “The overall economy is getting stronger.”

Firstline outgrows headquarters

Integrator moves to larger HQ, and larger facility in San Diego, sets sights on being $25m company

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Systems integration firm Firstline has more than doubled in size since 2009, and company founder Steve Morefield anticipates that growth to continue.

G4S Technology awarded $1.8m airport contract


OMAHA, Neb.—G4S Technology announced July 23 that it won a $1.8M contract to upgrade security for the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport located in Killeen, Texas.

Updates on Idesco


NEW YORK—Idesco, a security systems integrator, launched a new corporate website in July that showcases Idesco's solutions, including access control, video surveillance, ID badging, turnstiles, managed services, biometrics and visitor management.

Speco woos integrators with IP savvy

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Speco Technologies, a video surveillance manufacturer based in New York, may be best known for its analog solutions, but it is well into IP-based technology these days.

Today, Speco counts 25 of the largest and most sophisticated independent integrators in the U.S as its valued resellers, with Protection 1 as one of its marquee customers.

These are relationships the Speco management team has actively pursued. And, their pursuit of integrators has just begun, they say. The company’s sales, engineering, marketing, training and management are eager to talk about what they’re doing daily to increase the number of security systems integrators who turn to Speco for easy to use, innovative IP-based video technology.

I visited Speco this week, got a look at their headquarters in Amityville, the manufacturing and training operation and had a chance to hear Speco executives talk about their strategy.  

In business since the early 1960s. Speco is a privately held business owned by the Keller family. The company went private on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  

Todd Keller, Speco president and owner, said the business employs about 100 people. In 2008 it broke $100 million in revenue, today it’s “headed back to about $85 million” in 2014 revenue. The company is selling more products, but prices for many products have come down.

All of its products are assembled here at its headquarters in New York and most everything is engineered here or “outsourced in America.” Keller and other management believe that being family-owned gives Speco an advantage over corporations. "We have the flexibility to pursue ideas, to engineer, innnovate, design," TJ Dickson, VP sales and marketing said, adding that Speco constantly tests and evaluates, and re-evalutates its products. It does the same with competitors' products, he said.

It has a warehouse in Amityville and a new warehouse in Reno, Nevada which it opened in April. This new warehouse houses $3 million in inventory and enables Speco to get products to distributors in the west much more quickly and inexpensively.

Corporations use "voice of the customer" Dickson said. "They hear the customer, but I'm not sure they listen to the customer." Because Speco is not a giant corporation, it is able to implement changes quickly, he said.

Speco is well known for some signature products: two way audio; Digital Deterrent; inventing (Keller says) the bullet camera; its wall-mounted DVR. It's also known for private labeling its products for customers large and small. Keller said he'd much rather have an installer's name on a product than Speco's name, saying that if they sell more "Speco wins."

Speco is also well known for its "Intensifier" technology, which several years ago made it possible for analog cameras to "see" in the dark and low light conditions. This September Speco is planning an "all out blitz" to launch its Intensifier technology built into HD IP cameras, according to Peter Botelho, EVP and GM at Speco Technologies.

"It will be a very aggressive launch aimed at a target group of integrators," he said. Botelho said Speco has taken its time and "worked to get it right." Some competitors have similar technology, he said, "but it doesn't perform like ours and when you add [Speco's lower] price point, this is a potential big win for us in IP," he said.

Speco also last week released its SecureGuard Plus, a VMS that "provides access to multiple DVRs, NVRs and IP cameras for remote viewing, playback and other functions." It does not have licensing fees. Botelho said that SecureGuard Plus is "all American programming, American processing, and an All-American idea" that was developed with input from the SecureGuard User Group, which consists of 15 to 20 integrators.  He called SecureGuard Plus "a VMS with some serious plans to take it way beyond [the traditional] VMS." Future versions of this software will "have special features and integrate with some things that we believe others haven't thought of."

Where's Speco heading in terms of software engineering? Developing software that "runs all peripheral devices and does something with the all the data that's collected," Botelho said. "We are well positioned to move into that space," he said. Why? "More than anything we have a management team that has the ability to understand what's really happening at the installer level. ... and that comes from listening," Botelho said.

Speco "listens" in many ways. Its Tech Support department takes between 300 and 500 calls per day. At the end of every month, Speco takes the top 10 issues its Tech Support department has dealt with, assesses those issues, solves them with other department input if necessary and "turns them into a positive," Keller said.

It does the same thing with the products themselves. Speco has a 2 percent rate of return and defective rate of less than a half a percent. All of the returned products are assessed as well. If, for example, a number of products have been returned because they've been damaged by a lightening strike, this may not be a defect, but this is good information for Speco engineers to have as they design a newer version of the product, Keller explained. 

Speco also "listens" to its customers during training sessions. It has invested significantly in bringing its dealers to its headquarters for training. This year it has done more than 100 trainings so far in 2014. It has had 10 different distributors, dozens of independent integrators and all of Protection 1's national account managers to its headquarters this year.

Trainings held at the headquarters are the most effective, Dickson said, because Speco has a chance to talk about the company as well as the products.

Botelho said he also sees the trainings as "built-in focus groups" where engineering, marketing or sales people can learn what Speco customers are looking for.

However, it's important, Dickson said, to be able to execute on what you learn from customers. He said Speco can do this and cited a recent example of an integrator who wanted a special feature on its wall-mounted DVRs, a button that would flash and alerting a local store manager to push the button to download video. "We had it done, designed and the software written within a week. They were blown away," Dickson said.



Integrator iTech goes with IQinVision


INDIANAPOLIS—Mark Nazarenus, president of iTech Digital, an Indianapolis-based integrator of video surveillance solutions, announced it will use IQinVision in its IP and hybrid surveillance packages.

Feenics: Led by industry vet, attracting integrators' attention

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Have you heard of Feenics? It’s a new cloud-based access control platform that’s being run by an industry vet and that attracted the attention of some integrators who are demoing, or getting ready to install “Keep” which is Feenics’ first product.

Paul DiPeso, who was most recently with Lenel, is running the show for Feenics as VP and GM, and this week he’s at the Feenics’ office in Ottawa conducting a “voice of the customer” meeting with some integrators, including Alpha Corp, GS Security, Contava, TRL Systems, Open Systems and Koorsen Security.  

I had a chance to speak to Di Peso as well as Skip Sampson and Shannon Martindale from Koorsen, and I’ll have a regular story on the whole Feenics offering next week.

Suffice it to say, Sampson and Martindale are excited about the offering. Sampson believes Keep will be an RMR generator for his company and a product that his customers will like.

Sampson installed Keep at the Koorsen office and tested it for six months. “We gave [developers] feedback and they were quick to acknowledge and implement [some changes],” he said.

He’s sold two systems and “has quite a few in the pipeline,” he said. Asked about hosted and managed services, Sampson said he’s dabbled in hosted video, but he believes that managed access control is "the most viable managed service. You don’t need a huge pipe, huge SAN or attached storage, a DSL works just great,” he said.

And with Keep, which works with standard Mercury panels “there’s comfort that if the customer for some reason doesn't like it, you can put in something else without replacing the infrastructure. I think Sam was wise in doing that. We play on that point.”

Sam is Sam Shalaby, former owner of FSC, who developed the product. Shalaby is still 100 percent owner of Feenics and sits on the board of advisors, but he is not involved in the day-to-day business.

Sampson acknowledged that there are “multiple other products that do similar things, but what’s different with Sam’s is that he didn’t take a product that’s been out there for 10 to 15 years and take the same GUI, and same layout and try to make it work as a hosted product. He started to build it with an integrator’s mindset. It’s not an access control panel-centric product.”

Sampson called it “fresh and new and relevant,” and said it has “kind of a Google look to it.”  

Working with DiPeso are Dave Charles who does business development, Ralph Shillington who is CTO and who developed the original software, and Anthony Shalaby who is running logistics.

Check back next week, for more details on Feenics’ and DiPeso’s go-to-market strategy.

Nemerofsky named CEO of Xentry Systems Integration

Acquisitions are in the pipeline

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Xentry Systems Integration, which was formed in January, today announced the appointment of John Nemerofsky as president and CEO.

Interface raises $115m

Installations for new retail customer with 8,000+ locations begin this month

ST. LOUIS—Interface Security Systems, an integrator that offers physical security with managed network solutions in a bundled service, has raised $115 million to fund growth that includes adding an important new retail customer.

Xentry acquires Acree Daily Integrated Systems

Tsourides: ‘We have the appetite to grow to be a very large super-regional’

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Systems integrator Xentry Systems expects to hit $25 million to $27 million in revenue in 2014, thanks in part to the acquisition, announced May 21, of Acree Daily Integrated Systems, an integrator based here.