Sonitrol adds new franchise locations

Friday, February 1, 2002

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Two new franchises of Sonitrol Corp. have opened in the eastern portion of the United States, filling in the gaps in territories in northwestern Pennsylvania and the eastern coast of Florida.

The two new locations, opened by independent franchisees, gives Sonitrol 170 locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., or coverage in the top 150 domestic major metropolitan areas, said Todd Leggett, vice president of distribution and franchise development for Sonitrol. The company has about 100 central stations in its coverage area.

Sonitrol Security Systems, a sales and service office located in Erie, Pa., was opened by a franchise group that owns and operates locations in Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y. as well as in Toronto. The new Pennsylvania location, which is located about 95 miles from Buffalo, covers 10 counties in that state, which until now was "virgin territory as far as Sonitrol is considered," said Steve Miller, general manager of the Erie branch. The few accounts located already in that region were serviced from a Sonitrol branch in Pittsburgh, he said.

Both the Erie branch and Sonitrol East Coast of Florida, in Cocoa, Fla., are strategic for Sonitrol Corp. because both locations fill in areas where local accounts were being serviced by far off branches, Leggett said, particularly Cocoa, where it fills a gap between locations in Orlando and Daytona Beach. There are at least 12 other locations in Florida, but the company is still hoping to open a franchise in the Ocala/ Gainesville area.

"The Orlando group helped us service the Daytona area for a number of years," Leggett said. "It's a very good strategic fill for us by adding some visibility to the coast of Florida."

Visibility, particularly in the franchise world, is something the company has been taking advantage of, particularly over the past few years, Leggett said, as the corporation changed to Tyco ownership and began to become more aggressive in seeking new franchise opportunities. At the same time, the concept of franchising has also grown exponentially, he said.

"We have had more interest in franchising in the last six months that we've ever had," Leggett said. "We've probably have had up to 30 to 40 inquiries a month."

Sept. 11 events have played a role in an uptick in interest, he said, but inquiries rose before then. Last year the company saw eight new locations open, while the previous year saw five, he said. The company is already on track for at least two franchises this year, well on its way to meeting the company's business plan of between five and 10 new locations each year.