Vivint has had a disputed ride to its place as the No. 4 company in the industry on the SDM 100, but its bold “first adopter” attitude of new technologies is helping make security a “Best Buy” and opening new growth — and that needs to be recognized.

Every year, the SDM editors feel honored to take an in-depth look into the leading RMR companies across the nation as part of the Dealer of the Year awards program. This year’s applicants made choosing the Dealer of the Year one of our toughest decisions yet, with multiple companies demonstrating many notable accomplishments and growth.

The Dealer of the Year program is about acknowledging a great year, and love ‘em or hate ‘em, Vivint Inc., Provo, Utah, certainly had one in 2011. It grew its revenue by 40 percent and its recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by 34 percent — all while successfully undergoing a total rebranding of its company, previously known as APX Alarm, and completing its one millionth installation. More importantly, it is pushing the industry forward in the pursuit of new technologies and services, and in the process making home automation mainstream.

I know that some people picking up this issue are going to find it hard to believe that SDM named Vivint its 2011 Dealer of the Year, while others will support the decision. We’re very aware of Vivint’s rocky ride to the top and the questionable business practices it has previously employed. Vivint’s history exposes a very tender area of the industry — the practice of door-to-door sales and “aggressive” sales methods. The passionate response many people have when discussing Vivint’s history is good; we need to collectively protect this industry and its reputation, which includes what people think of its door-to-door salespeople, contracts and customer services efforts. We all need to hold each other accountable to the highest standard. We also all need to push forward together with equal passion into the new form of security that is unfolding that includes interactive and home management services. That’s Vivint’s “big idea” that especially deserves your attention.

Vivint’s use of GO!Control is proving the security industry can successfully provide additional enhanced security services and home management services that are affordable for the masses. In fact, in July of this year, Vivint’s Home Automation Package and Advanced Security Package received “Best Buy” ratings from Consumers Digest.

In the past few years, Vivint has made the effort to overhaul its practices, better monitor its salespeople, and clean up its image. You can read about those efforts in the article on page 44. Time will continue to tell how sincere Vivint’s efforts are to regulate the tactics of its door-to-door salespeople, and how committed it is to the industry’s Code of Ethics it helped author in 2010. At this time, SDM is willing to stand behind that effort in good faith of the company’s continuing efforts. Only Vivint can continue to win over its critics and we certainly hope it does because it is doing some incredible things for the industry that deserve a closer look.

Vivint isn’t the only company we’re recognizing. Protection 1, Romeoville, Ill., one of this year’s two SDM Dealer of the Year Honorees, completed a “rebrand” of its own — internally. New chief executive officer Tim Whall took on the challenge of changing the company’s identity from the inside out, refocusing on service, metrics, and internal operations while piloting a significant turnaround.

The second, equally deserving SDM Dealer of the Year Honoree is Security Networks, LLC, West Palm Beach, Fla. The company operates under an innovative business model that uses affiliate partners for installations. With impressive growth (a 28 percent increase in revenue) while launching iNet, its own suite of interactive services; and growing its business into major markets in the western United States and Puerto Rico, it had a great year as well. Read more about Protection 1 on page 57. For a closer look at Security Networks, turn to p. 63. All three companies reflect the industry’s best in many ways — each with individual stories of success that deserve a closer look.