The acquisition of a majority of shares in The Greater Alarm Co. Inc., Irvine, Calif., by Interface Security Systems LLC, Earth City, Mo., is the first move by Interface away from its Midwestern roots in states along the upper and lower Mississippi River.

“The new dimension that will be added is aggressively seeking acquisition candidates in California and contiguous states as part of our expansion plan to increase the size of our business and our customer base,” announced Michael Shaw, CEO of Interface Security Systems Holdings Inc., the parent company of Interface Security Systems. “We will continue to do business in the western states as Greater Alarm Co. The brand will continue to be Greater Alarm.”

Greater Alarm, which ranked 23rd in the 2004 SDM 100, will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary of Interface, Shaw explained, and George De Marco will remain its president and chief operating officer.

“For us, the states that border California would be the first and most logical states for Greater Alarm to expand into,” De Marco agreed.

Speaking about the merger, De Marco stated, “We found one company that could meet all our criteria. From a back-office point of view, this would be a great partnership.”

The two men agreed that the merger, which they had discussed for nearly a year before entering into it, was a win-win because each company could expand its geographic reach.

“We have accounts that we service throughout the Midwest, and Caterpillar and Williams-Sonoma would love for Interface to serve them but we haven’t had the capability,” Shaw admitted. “Now we have the ability to provide for their needs and through our Greater Alarm subsidiary get the additional business. George said the same thing – they have key accounts they would like to service beyond the boundaries of California.”

Shaw declared that unlike attempts to just buy accounts, this merger would retain Greater Alarm’s infrastructure, branches, employees and especially its current management team. “This is a one-plus-one equals three approach,” Shaw remarked.

“Interface has successfully acquired 21 companies in the last three years, and we will continue to actively pursue acquisitions in seven states,” Shaw promised.

He maintained Interface, which ranked 14th in the 2004 SDM 100, had no plans currently to expand eastward beyond the states in which it currently does business: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Interface’s business currently is a 60:40 mix of commercial and residential customers respectively, Shaw estimated. “We expect that 60:40 commercial residential will probably continue as we go forward,” he stated.

“We have stayed with the builder market, and we will continue,” De Marco pledged. “We entered into the fire and commercial arena and will keep growing those divisions as we always have. We’re not giving up anything.”

Shaw concluded, “We’re actively pursuing opportunities in both sectors.”