When I made the call this year to let Ackerman Security Systems, Atlanta, know they had been chosen as SDM’s 2007 Dealer of the Year, I got a loud scream at the other end of the phone. “Excuse me,” said Jim Callahan, vice president of sales at the company. “I hope that wasn’t too much!” he said. The competition for SDM’s Dealer of the Year award is fierce and we want all entrants to feel proud of their accomplishments and growth. We are lucky to have the opportunity to profile one outstanding dealer company each year, and provide that recognition.

This year we had several dozen amazing nominees for the award. What made Ackerman stand out above the others? The Atlanta-based company has launched some truly unique and exciting marketing campaigns, including one SDM covered in August 2007 (p. 15) on the company’s partnership with marketing the Permanent Escape And Rescue Ladder or PEARL. Ackerman also partnered with a pest control company recently for a marketing campaign — another unique way to earn recognition and extra revenue.

Since its start in 2004, Ackerman’s false alarm prevention program has yielded a 32 percent reduction in false alarm dispatches, according to the company…another significant milestone that stood out for the judges. And of course, numbers played a role. Ackerman had phenomenal growth. From 2005 to 2006 total annual revenue grew 13 percent and recurring monthly revenue (RMR) grew 21 percent for the same time period — and all this accomplished with an employee base of 142. These are just a few of the reasons that we think you’ll want to learn more about Ackerman. Turn to p. 42 for senior editor Russ Gager’s article on SDM’s 2007 Dealer of the Year.

In choosing this year’s Dealer of the Year, we also chose one Honoree, which showed tremendous dedication and growth as a physical security dealer. ASG Security, Beltsville, Md., was chosen as an SDM Dealer of the Year Honoree in 2006. We felt ASG continued to show their strength as a company and the reasons they are a top-notch player in the industry. The self-proclaimed service-oriented company reported an estimated $53.37 million in total annual revenue for 2007 and $3 million in RMR for 2007. You can read more about our Dealer of the Year Honoree beginning on p. 50.

Finally, this issue brings us another article in our vertical market series — this one on industrial and manufacturing facilities. Find out what it takes to keep customers in this market and what specifically customers are looking for in their security systems in this market that includes: water treatment facilities, energy and utilities plants, and chemical facilities. You can find the full article on p. 60.

Our goal with this series is to bring to you ideas, tips and education on how to break in to specific vertical markets, as well as what you need to know to succeed, or continue to succeed in each vertical market. We talk to manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and end users in each market to get their assessment and advice.

In 2008 we will continue SDM’s vertical market series with some new and exciting vertical markets previously not covered. Give me your feedback about what you’ve liked and what you would like to see done differently for future articles in the series. I look forward to hearing from you!