Illinois Bill Allowing Fire Departments to Do Monitoring Moves to Executive Committee

 On February 14, 2014 as SDM previously reported, Illinois Representative Timothy Schmitz (R) introduced House Bill 5683 (HB5683), an amendment to the Fire Protection District Act to allow the adoption of ordinances regulating the supervision and monitoring of fire alarm systems maintained within a district.

On March 3, 2014, the bill was moved to the state’s Executive Committee of the House. If Schmitz calls the bill for review and it is approved by the committee, the next step would be for the bill to continue on to another committee or to go in front of the House.

According to the synopsis, Illinois House Bill 5683 “allows the board to collect reasonable fees for fire alarm services that are provided to customers by the district itself or through a vendor approved by the board.” The bill also amends the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004 and exempts a unit of local government or its employee from the state licensing requirements that alarm companies are held to.

“If 5683 passes, it allows fire protection districts in Illinois to enter into the alarm monitoring industry legally,” Kevin Lehan, executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) told SDM. While the precipitant and timing behind the bill is not entirely clear, and calls to Rep. Schmitz’s office were not returned, Schmitz’s biography on the Illinois General Assembly website lists Part-Time Firefighter for the City of Batavia, Ill., as one of his occupations.

The bill seemingly would circumvent the Lisle Woodridge Fire District (LWFD) ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in July 2013 that ruled in favor of private monitoring companies, upholding an earlier decision by a federal judge who said fire districts do not have the authority to be in the monitoring business, nor charge fees for such monitoring.

The case was regarding LWFD’s 2009 ordinance requiring businesses to cancel private contracts for alarm monitoring and dispatch services and use the LWFD dispatch services for a monthly fee. Several security industry companies sued LWFD after the ordinance was adopted and the case went before the Federal U.S Court of Appeals twice. Since the last ruling in July 2013, it was reported that LWFD was considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter.

The language of HB5683 is not specific on whether private monitoring services and fire protection districts could be providing services to members in the same community, or whether districts could require businesses to only receive monitoring services through the district itself. But, said Lehan, the bill could open up the possibility that communities would pass ordinances similar to the Lisle Woodridge Fire Department ordinance of 2009.

“We are very surprised by how vague the language is,” Lehan told SDM. “It does not exclude licensed alarm contractors, however, we believe that with the ability for them to be in the market, that would open up the legal possibility that these communities would enact ordinances allowing this or giving exclusivity to the fire protection district for monitoring.”

Should a bill such as HB5683 pass, it could have implications across the country. “Every legislature is looking for ways to garner revenue,” warned Lehan. “If something like this receives endorsement here or in any other state, it would certainly get attention in other states as a potential revenue stream.”

The IESA has made a call to those in the industry to join the association in contacting its lawmakers in opposition of HB5683. For more information or to join IESA’s efforts, visit — By Maggie McFadden Shein, SDM Contributing Writer


Samsung’s Sr. VP  of Sales Appointed  to SIA Board

Frank De Fina, Samsung Techwin America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing was appointed to the Security Industry Association (SIA) Board of Directors Executive Committee. De Fina is designated as vice chairman of the board’s six-member Executive  Committee.

“I am looking forward to serving on the executive committee and helping to steer decisions that will address and fulfill the needs of the security community both now and in the future,” De Fina said.


Nationwide Digital Launches Mobile PERS Service

Nationwide Digital Monitoring Co. of Freeport, N.Y., just launched a Mobile PERS offering for its dealers. The solution, manufactured by Numera, provides end users with a hands-free, GPS device that they can incorporate into their lifestyle, whether at home, on the golf course, or on the road. The remotely managed, two-way voice device has built-in fall detection, and is a great fit for end users that have active lifestyles, according to Howard Avin, vice president of sales and marketing at Nationwide Digital.

“We’ve been looking for a product like this for at least a year and a half,” Avin said. “I really believe that this is where the industry is going in terms of PERS. This is ideal for so many seniors who are very active and who need something that they can take with them. This is going to lend itself to people who are more active and probably a little younger in age than the average PERS user right now. It will open up a lot more opportunities for alarm dealers.”

Dealers can purchase the devices directly from Nationwide Digital, and the dealers themselves come up with a pricing structure that suits their company. Nationwide Digital plans to start offering marketing and sales materials for dealers targeted to the end user  very soon.

The monitoring company has been offering a traditional landline PERS service for about 15 years, according to Avin. The push to cellular offerings across the alarm industry as a whole created a demand for cellular PERS offerings, and a completely mobile offering is the next logical step, Avin said.

“This is a huge marketplace and alarm dealers should really look at the mobile PERS service as an add-on sale to almost anything they are doing,” Avin said. “Almost any end user has a parent or aunt or somebody that could benefit from a product like this. It’s a much less expensive alternative to assisted living. If it can help keep someone out of assisted living for six months or two years, the savings are huge and create a great opportunity for the dealer.” — By Maggie McFadden Shein, SDM Contributing Writer


Vivint Announces CMO & New Social Marketing Strategies

Home technology services provider Vivint, Provo, Utah, recently announced the promotion of Jeff Lyman to chief marketing officer (CMO). Before being promoted to CMO, Lyman served as Vivint’s vice president of consumer experience, and spent nearly a decade at Nike before that. In this new role, Lyman will lead initiatives to elevate the brand awareness of Vivint, streamline the company’s message, and expand its reach.

With a product launch of the company’s first line of fully integrated products, including hardware and software, to be released through all of its channels later this year, Lyman’s task will be to continue to elevate the brand’s distinctiveness to both its channel partners and end users.

“Our unique challenge is to amplify the merits of that product suite and our world-class services,” Lyman told SDM. “You’ll see us in places you haven’t historically seen us before.” Those new places that Lyman mentions include digital and social media platforms to reach end users and channel partners in an interactive, relationship-driven environment.

“Ten years ago, brands often had a monologue with consumers, by talking to them. But with the advent of social media and digital channels, it truly is an interactive dialogue where consumers are building relationships with brands,” Lyman shared. “In our rapidly evolving industry specifically, there is a tremendous opportunity to create that dialogue. Consumers invite a short list of brands into their homes and place a significant amount of trust in those brands and we take that very seriously.”

Lyman told SDM to expect Vivint to dive into many of these social and digital channels going forward.

One of the key messages that Vivint will focus on, according to Lyman, is making security, home automation and energy management as simple to the end user as possible. “It’s important to focus on a simple, human, intuitive and cohesive experience,” Lyman said. “Security will always be critical and important. The real ticket for our industry is to take the complexity out of the experience so consumers don’t have to fuss with complex systems.” — By Maggie McFadden Shein, SDM Contributing Writer



ADS Announces 2 Alabama Acquisitions

ADS Security (ADS), Nashville, Tenn., acquired the customer accounts of Advanced Electronic Solutions of Opelika, Ala. and Guardian Security of Decatur, Ala. These purchases further ADS’ pursuit of growth across the Southeast.

Between Advanced Electronic Solutions and Guardian Security, ADS has acquired approximately 1,200 customer accounts, Patrick Ritter, vice president/controller at ADS told SDM. The newly acquired businesses will bring the ADS customer base in Alabama to more than 20,000 accounts.

“ADS is always looking for high-quality companies that are growing and that have low attrition and good customer agreements,” Ritter said. The acquisitions bring ADS into markets where they already had existing customers, but no office locations. Advanced Electronic Solutions is made up of 90 percent residential accounts, while Guardian Security’s residential accounts make up 60 percent of its customer base, according to Ritter.

“It’s important to ADS that we acquire companies that have a strong local presence and a reputation in their community of outstanding customer service,” said ADS President and CEO, John Cerasuolo. “The purchases of Advanced Electronic Solutions and Guardian Security support that mission.”

Ritter added that ADS has had a long-standing relationship with Guardian Security, monitoring many of its customers, and the company’s advanced services fit right in with ADS. “The customer base is fairly progressive and they offer a lot of home automation type services that will be great going forward,” Ritter explained. “These were both logical moves for us in these territories.”

Both owners, Chuck Wright of Advanced Electronic Solutions and Ron Beasley of Guardian Security, and their teams, will be joining ADS, which was ranked no. 26 on the SDM 100.



AT&T Digital Life Launches in 4 U.S. Markets

AT&T announced that it will launch new Digital Life markets in Albany, N.Y., Dayton, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Wichita, Kan. AT&T’s Digital Life service began in 2013 and, with these new markets, it will now reach customers in 63 U.S. markets.

“This year is going to be exciting for AT&T Digital Life and the connected home industry,” said Kevin Petersen, president, Digital Life Inc. “We’re going to expand our footprint and add features to the platform while being aggressive in the market to show customers how convenient it is to control your home with our easy-to-use technology.”

AT&T’s professionally monitored security offering is an all-digital, fully integrated, wireless home management system, giving customers the ability to manage their home from a smartphone, tablet or computer. The Digital Life application is available on most Web browsers. Apps are available for iOS, as well as Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phones. Customers in these four new markets can receive a live demo and purchase AT&T Digital Life in company-owned retail stores, or by purchasing online.

Digital Life customers can choose from two base plans: Simple Security or Smart Security, which includes enhanced security features and the option to add home automation. Other add-ons include camera packages, energy/appliance control, remote door locks, and water leak detection and control.



Select Security Plans Lead Call Center Expansion

Privately owned electronic security systems provider, Select Security, announced that Tony Roberts joined the company with leadership responsibility for its call center located near Salt Lake City, Utah. Roberts has more than 17 years of call center experience streamlining functions. Most recently, Roberts ran the customer service and sales call centers for the Pinnacle and Devcon Security companies.

At Select Security, Roberts plans to launch several new initiatives quickly, including a full-scale customer loyalty and retention program, along with several other programs focused on growing additional sales channel opportunities through inside sales and new customer telesales, according to a statement.

“It [has] been a focus of ours to expand our outreach program into inside sales and customer loyalty initiatives, but we waited to make the move until we found the right person to spearhead the project,” said Steve Firestone, president of Select Security.

Select Security’s call center facility currently houses the call center agents that handle the data entry and customer verification functions that support Select Security’s Residential Direct Sales (RDS) program, which operates year-round and doubled in size last year. 

“I’m pleased to be working with the current group inside Select Security’s call center, which has done a great job handling the demand of the RDS program,” Roberts said. “I’m looking forward to working with them to increase our efficiency, and building a first-class team to handle the opportunities I see in increased customer retention and new customer sales.”



Vector Security Rolls Out Cloud-Based Video Offering

Vector Security, based in Pittsburgh, has launched a hosted video solution to provide its commercial and residential customers with an alternative to conventional analog cameras that offers HD image capture and mobile access to real-time IP video.

Known as CloudControl, the solution has been used in more than 50 pilot offerings in selected areas, installed with hundreds of cameras in a range of applications, both residential and commercial. In these installations, the solution has been effective at helping businesses monitor multiple locations remotely, reduce internal resources needed for enterprise-level security and improve internal processes through more intelligent customer and employee monitoring, Vector Security described. Those businesses who have participated in the pilot program are using it for a variety of scenarios, including monitoring foot traffic to ensure proper staffing of locations, documenting theft, training employees and receiving notifications of vandalism.

Vector launched the solution to fulfill a need for quality video that is easily accessible, tamper-proof and requires little to no maintenance, said Rick Simpson, Vector’s vice president of technology.

“We have heard one too many times that when a customer goes to access video, a DVR or other device wasn’t working properly. As a result, what they thought would be there wasn’t. CloudControl takes this worry out of the equation,” he said.

According to Vector, the benefits of CloudControl include:

  • low up-front investment with no software or equipment updates required;
  • simultaneous multi-site viewing via smartphone or desktop Web browser;
  • health monitoring for all cameras with triggered alerts to your mobile device; and
  • in-camera analytics to leverage data for business needs.

CloudControl is the latest in what Vector plans to be a continued series of offerings that takes advantage of the latest technology to offer customers the kinds of services they want and need, said Pam Petrow, Vector’s president and CEO.

“Hosted video surveillance, backed by Vector Security’s top-of-the-line security and managed broadband solutions, enables businesses and individuals to achieve highly effective, reliable monitoring that is affordable, operationally efficient and scalable as their needs evolve,” she said.



1st Response Security Selected for Honeywell’s Dealer Program

Little Rock, Ark.-based 1st Response Security is the latest company to join the ranks of Honeywell’s Authorized Dealer for Commercial Security Systems (CSS) program. Founded in 2004, 1st Response provides a range of systems and services to its residential and commercial customers, including security systems, video monitoring, access control systems, automation, central vacuum, home theater, data cabling and audio/visual installations.

“We strive to provide tailored solutions that meet our customer’s individual needs, through educated system design, quality system installation and superior customer service,” said Jeff Marshall, manager for 1st Response Security. “Joining Honeywell’s CSS dealer program gives us access to a large portfolio of advanced technology options that will help us continue to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations.”

Honeywell’s Authorized Dealer for CSS program is designed for dealers with expertise in intrusion and fire, video surveillance and access control. Small, medium and large commercial and industrial security dealers who are selected for the program receive customized marketing support, targeted sales opportunities and technical training programs.


Refurbishment Co. Opens Second Office

Boynton Beach, Florida-based QGistix Inc., a provider of reverse logistics and refurbishment services for security electronics, announced the opening of a facility in Atlanta. The new facility is located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“We’re very excited to open our new facility in response to dynamic growth in our business,” said Mark Sherman, vice president of operations. “With several new clients coming onboard in 2014, we anticipate that our volume will exceed 1,000,000 parts for the first time in our history. Locating our returns processing center and refurbishment operations centrally was well received as it decreases transit time to all of our clients’ branches by one to two business days and [is] right next to most of our customers’ distribution centers.”


Widup Takes the Reins  as ASIS President

Richard “Rich” Widup Jr., CPP, was named president of ASIS International. A longtime ASIS member, Widup joined the organization in 2000 and joined the ASIS CIO Roundtable in 2008. He currently serves as senior director, corporate security, for Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma.

One of Widup’s main goals for his one-year term as ASIS president is to focus on building strong leaders through the organization’s training offerings.

“The security profession is evolving at an incredible pace and will continue to do so. ASIS is focused on developing and delivering the knowledge and professional development resources that security practitioners require to protect and secure people, property and information,” Widup said. “Beyond meeting potential rising gaps in knowledge and skill sets, my hope is to expand and strengthen ASIS offerings in the area of leadership and business management.”

During the 14 years he has been an ASIS member, Widup has served in a number of volunteer leadership roles, including Transportation Security Council chair, council vice president and director of the ASIS Foundation board of trustees. He was first appointed to the ASIS board of directors in 2007.


Monitronics Earns 2 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Monitronics, based in Dallas, took home two Bronze Stevie Awards at the eighth annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, given each year to recognize achievements in sales, contact center operations and customer service.

For the second straight year, Monitronics won in the Contact Center of the Year category, and was recognized in the Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year category, both of which were presented during a banquet held at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

With the vision statement “Security is Our Priority,” Monitronics’ Alarm Response Center (ARC) is a charter member of the ASAP electronic dispatch program. Operators are trained to engage customers during emergency situations, quickly assess how an alarm should be handled, then either contact emergency personnel or educate the customer about how to handle future alarms.

“Our team focuses on treating every alarm with the same sense of urgency as they would want for their own home and family,” said Darin Anderson, Monitronics’ vice president of monitoring operations. “We’re honored to win, and we remain dedicated to protecting what matters most to our customers.”


Go Safer Security Rebrands

Go Safer Security, a locally owned and operated security company headquartered in Laurel, Md., announced the rebranding of its business. This follows a period of expansion for the business and will include a new visual identity, website, marketing collateral, and company tagline — “Stay Connected and Better Protected.”

“Our technology and service offerings have evolved to such a degree that we felt our old marketing was not accurately reflecting who we are,” said Navin Goel, CEO at Go Safer Security. “In terms of the solutions we bring to our customers, it is very important for our brand to reinforce the full extent of what we do.”



‘Business Is Good’ at 2014 SedonaOffice Users Conference

The common theme among the 347 attendees who represented 100 companies at the 2014 SedonaOffice Users Conference seemed to be “business is good,” according to the company.

The 13th conference, held in late January, provided nearly 50 educational sessions on a range of topics, as well as opportunities for unscheduled interaction and networking throughout its three days. According to one attendee, these connections make the conference even greater.

“The best value of the conference is what you cannot get anywhere else and that is the ability to meet face-to-face with the SedonaOffice staff and users to talk about the real life procedures and ideas,” said repeat attendee Karen Baker, senior vice president of The Protection Bureau, based in Exton, Pa.

Guest presenters included Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, who led a panel of SedonaOffice users in a discussion of management best practices. WeSuite, New York, delivered an entire track that covered the sales process from contact to contract. New for 2014 were user discussions that included representatives from Select Security, Lancaster, Pa., Mountain Alarm, Ogden, Utah, Advantech, Milpitas, Calif., and others who shared their expertise on various aspects of SedonaOffice.

“The SedonaOffice experience is a community and we encourage interaction between our clients. It always amazes me how competing security companies can meet in this setting, offering help and encouragement to get the most out of SedonaOffice,” said Don Faybrick, co-founder of Perennial Software, the Chagrin Falls, Ohio-based company behind SedonaOffice and AlarmBiller.

Day one of the conference was filled with informational presentations during a general session. The day opened with co-founders Faybrick and Michael Marks providing an overview of what users can expect from SedonaOffice in 2014. This was followed by a special presentation explaining SedonaEnhancement, a new program where users can vote for enhancements to the application. Keynote speaker Mark McCourt, group publisher of SDM and Security, presented results of the 2014 SDM Subscriber Market Forecast.

An open forum with Faybrick and Marks wrapped up the conference. Meeting the high standards of their customers is no easy task, but Marks said they are up for the climb. “The analogy I’ve used in the past, and will use countless times again: Creating a great software product is like climbing a mountain, except there is no top to this mountain. Every day we are working to help you reach your potential.”


News Briefs


Security Control Systems Inc., Houston, a Security-Net member company, announced that Brent Balkcom received his master of project management degree (MPM) from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University. Balkcom joined Security Control Systems Inc. in 2012 and has been in the industry for more than 14 years.

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Bryan Viau was promoted to chief operating officer at VTI Security, a Security-Net member based in Burnsville, Minn. He has been with VTI since 1996, first serving as the president of loss control solutions, a subsidiary software company, until its sale in 2003 and then as executive vice president.

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Briscoe Protective Systems Inc. promoted Jennifer Sabatino to executive assistant. In her duties, Sabatino supports the company’s executive management team. She brings more than 17 years of administrative and consulting experience to her role.

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Patrick Columbia joined The Protection Bureau (a Security-Net member company), Exton, Pa., as a central station operator. In this position, Columbia is responsible for all things connected with central station operations. In addition, Ryan Mellow was hired as a senior security consultant. Mellow comes with more than 10 years of sales experience in the security integration industry with a focus on pharmaceutical and healthcare markets.

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Leland Smith joined Vision Security Technologies, a Security-Net member based in Birmingham, Ala., as a network engineer. Smith is responsible for the preparation of new hardware, installation of hardware and software, general engineering, IT duties and troubleshooting problems. Additionally, Mike White was hired as an account manager at the company. White brings more than 12 years of security industry experience, specializing in contract corporate security, including providing executive protection for Bill Gates and Bruce Springsteen. 

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Keyscan Access Control Systems announced that Brian Shrake joined as regional sales manager, U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. In this role, Brian is responsible for managing all Keyscan sales and distribution initiatives in Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Viscount Systems appointed Dennis Raefield as its chief executive officer. Raefield has been a board member for Viscount since November 2011. Raefield has a 35 year career in the security industry in senior management roles, including president of Honeywell Access Systems.

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CBC (America) Corp. added Alan Green as Eastern regional sales manager, Imaging Technology Division. Green has more than 30 years of experience in the surveillance, security and pro-video markets. Green is responsible for identifying growth opportunities in IP surveillance for the East coast of the U.S., as well as for growing the channel business in the Southeastern U.S, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

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Micro Key Solutions announced Rick Nieves as an international sales/dealer services representative. Nieves brings more than 27 years of sales experience within the automotive, real estate and hotel industries. Courtney Wagner also joined the company as a sales and marketing representative. Wagner provides the marketing department with a fresh and innovative approach to the company’s marketing efforts for 2014 and beyond.

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 Habitec Security, Toledo, Ohio, promoted Tony Adams to service manager. Adams has worked at Habitec Security for 15 years as a service technician.