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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

As you can read on the SSN website, GHS Interactive Security recently secured a $50 million credit facility. 

Michael Barnes, founder of Barnes Associates Inc., the consulting and advisory firm that specializes in the security alarm industry, provided SSN with interesting insights about the non-traditional deal, noting that GHS had recently reached a milestone $500,000 in RMR.

Here’s what he told SSN:

“GHS is a very interesting company. Steve Baker and Topspin Partners were looking for an opportunity in the industry and liked the idea of buying a sales and installation engine and building a full-service company around that, as opposed to buying an existing integrated alarm company.  We [Barnes Associates] had sold an ADT dealer the year before and knew there was real value in companies that have the account origination capability … but no RMR.

“This is not the normal path by which private equity invests in the industry. Typically, they seek out fully operating companies that have a material customer base and RMR that can be leveraged, Day One. At market prices for these companies, however, most investors can’t get the returns they are looking for without substantial growth after the initial acquisition.

“Steve Baker and Topspin Partners recognized that buying a highly capable originating company, and then building up the operations around this capability and the RMR they could generate afforded the chance to grow a large successful company using a better cost dynamic. Rather than buying a fully functioning, integrated alarm company and then taking the risk associated with developing additional growth capability at a low cost, they bought the growth engine and took the risk that they could build a functioning full-service company around it.

“Basically, this is following the path Vivint took, where they first developed a material account origination capability and then started to keep the accounts and build up the necessary infrastructure to own and service them.

“Steve Baker knew the perfect company to acquire—LifeLine Security. The company was founded and owned by Gordon Johnson and John Fox, who had perfected the year-round door-to-door sales model (as opposed to the “summer sales” model), in several California markets. They were generating almost $200,000 a year of new RMR under a dealer program and were looking for a way to change their model to one that would build a fully integrated company.

“Gordon and John also had experience earlier in their careers in other parts of the Southwest, and had the proven capability to expand into new markets. This meshed with Steve Baker’s vision to broaden geographically into Texas, Arizona and Nevada in order to have a more diversified footprint and a larger overall market opportunity.”

“Starting with no accounts in mid-2013, when GHS acquired LifeLine, they have grown to over $500,000 of RMR.

“This rapid growth requires capital, and we have enjoyed working with the GHS team to develop the best approach to satisfying this need.  We identified Topspin Partners as the best fit for the equity, given their highly successful prior play in the industry and their appreciation for the opportunity. The debt part of the capital structure was a challenge, however, as the company needed a lender that could start small, Day One, and grow rapidly with the company.  Most of the lenders that truly understand the industry dynamic typically require the full servicing infrastructure to be in place and proven, and a seasoned existing account base.  Neither of these were present with GHS.  Additionally, most of the industry lenders had minimum initial borrowing amounts well above GHS’s initial need.  We found a division of Barclays that provided the initial facility.

“Fortuitously, Brent Humphries and Patrick Fear had left Barclays and moved to Alliance Bernstein to head up a very large non-bank debt fund, AB Private Credit Investors. Brent and Patrick were instrumental in setting up the initial facility and were intimately familiar with the company. We conducted a relatively broad placement process, and they quickly distinguished themselves by proposing a highly flexible package of debt capital that met every one of GHS’s needs, along with highly competitive pricing and an ability to cycle through the approval and closing process quickly.  Since they are not a bank, they brought an inherent flexibility that was attractive.  They are truly a capital partner, rather than a “lender” in the traditional sense.

“AB was great to work with.  Not only are they perfect for GHS, but I know they have the appetite to do more in the industry.”


by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

 I hope everyone has had a great summer! I know I have. Too short here in the Northeast, of course, but it’s always fabulous.

And here comes ISC East! Just weeks away, Nov. 18-19. The SIA-sponsored show in the Big Apple promises to provide “insights, education” and information about “the latest products, technologies and services” in security.

There will be more than 200 exhibitors, including 50 companies new to the show, according to SIA, not to mention educational sessions, networking opportunities and more. 

Look out for my exec ed, Martha Entwistle, while you're there. If you have any great story tips on resi security, pass them along to her and she'll pass them along to me. I'm always lookin for trend articles, stories about companies growing, expanding their territorty and so forth. Just give me a shout! 

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

PITTSBURGH—Vector Security has acquired Pelican Security Network Inc., a regional alliance of independent life safety and security services providers, fire protection companies, alarm dealers and systems integrators based in Baton Rouge, La.

The employees and more than 17,000 Pelican customers merged with Vector Security on Sept. 1, according to a prepared statement from Vector.

Amy Varisco will lead the newly formed Gulf District, which includes the Pelican Security Network of companies, for Vector Security, according to the company.

“In Vector Security, we have found the perfect company to transition our valued customers,” said Louis J. Resweber, Pelican president and COO. “We have been impressed with Vector Security, watching as they grow and provide exceptional service to their customers, all with a focus on the regional support that communities want and need. I am confident that Vector Security will provide the quality products and customer service our customers have come to expect from Pelican Security Network since 1998.”

Pam Petrow, recently named CSAA president and Vector CEO,  “We look forward to introducing the Vector Security brand to the Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi markets as we focus the company growth across these regions in the coming months.


by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The California Alarm Association has planned four regional meetings in September.            

An EBAA general meeting will be held in Richmond Sept. 8; an IEAA general meeting in Riverside Sept. 15; an OCAA general meeting in Anaheim Sept. 16; and an an SDSA general meeting in San Diego Sept. 17. RSVPS are needed.

Additional general meetings are planned for October and November.

The organization is also planning for its winter convention, Dec. 9-12 in San Francisco, where the George A. Weinstock Award will go to Matt Westphal of Bay Alarm.

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Think Protection, the mass market home alarm company launched by industry veteran Joel Matlin in June, is preparing for another launch next month: an e-commerce store.

“The launch is incredibly exciting as potential customers can order an alarm system through the store 24/7 from anywhere in the world," Matlin's son, Adam Matlin, Think Protection's COO, told me.

"With us operating throughout the U.S. and Canada, we believe the e-commerce store will present a fantastic opportunity to dramatically expand our brand and our high value/low cost value proposition,” he said.  

Joel Matlin is CEO of the company, based and Toronto and Florida. He previously founded AlarmForce and Frisco Bay Industries.




by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I spoke with Tom Kerber of Parks Associates this morning about a survey the company recently did that showed that telecoms and cablecos are making big gains in the home automation industry. 

When I was at ISC West and ESX a few months ago, I spoke to a number of companies who told me that home automation is a giant opportunity for traditional resi dealers to up-sell—and basically stay alive in this ever-increasing competitive market. Those companies are moving forward.

Millenials—they're everywhere!—are the biggest buyers of home automation products, according to a report from Icontrol.

Then I read reports from the likes of Argus Insights about how consumers are already, and I paraphrase, fed up with home automation. That party is over, Argus said.

Meanwhile, Kerber at Parks Associates says that a greater number of traditional dealers need to get into home automation. I can’t think of one company I’ve spoken to over the past few months who isn’t offering these services. Who isn’t? 

What's the deal?

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Do you have a new product to introduce at ASIS next month?

If so, get it in gear, folks, and submit relevant information for Security Systems News’ ASIS New Show Products section. Just giving a shout out for your benefit and for your last chance. The SSN show issue is always popular and space is limited, so please get in touch asap! We want to know, and so do our readers!

All companies exhibiting at the show can submit a product that is making its debut at ASIS 2015 in September. Companies that have more than one product division may submit one product for each division.

To take advantage of this free editorial opportunity, please send an email with the following information in the body of the text to

1.  Company name
2.  Company website
3.  Product name
4.  Three bullet points that describe your product, each 12 words or less
5.  ASIS booth number (essential; you must be exhibiting at ASIS)
6.  Image of product (JPEG file with a DPI of 300 or greater. No PDFs, please.)

We can wait until Friday, but that’s it.

Space in the issue is limited, so submitting early ensures you a place in the section!

Hope you all have a great show!


by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What’s the future normal for home security? According to an article from Business Insider, it’s DIY and MIY, all from Silicon Valley giants Google and Apple along with telecom big names.

What do you think?

I speak to resi dealers five days a week. They tell me that DIY is often a selling point for them and that it works very well for some of their customers—especially in helping homeowners understand their systems better—but that MIY, on the other hand, is not beneficial. What happens if you’re an MIYer and you’re 1,000 miles away from home on vacation or a business trip?

Traditional home security systems are still the mainstay, but not for long, according to the report from Citi, the primary source in the Business Insider article. Even though traditional systems/companies currently make up 93 percent of the home security market and DIY/yet professionally monitored make up 4.7 percent, Citi says in the article, that’s all going to change.

Google’s Nest and Dropcam and Apple’s HomeKit control 2.3 percent of the market.

That 2.3 percent market share will grow to 34 percent in the next five years, Citi says, with the traditional professional systems dropping to 61.6 percent.

How will this play out? Do you agree with the Citi study? I’m interested in your opinions for future articles in Security Systems News. Please let me know. Comment, email me at or call me at 207-846-0600. Thanks!




by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Exec ed Martha Entwistle and I had an excellent conference call yesterday with SSN’s TechSec Advisory Board. We’re gearing up for the annual conference on new and emerging technology, and our advisors assist us as we determine programming.

One thing I can say at this point is that the educational sessions at the TechSech conference Feb. 2-3 will be different from what you’ve heard over and over again. I attended ISC West and ESX, and the people I met with and the panelists at the sessions I attended were certainly very smart and at the top of their games, reinforcing topics we’ve heard about for months and have written about. But I was left with the questions, “Are there new takes on these persistent topics? What angles haven’t been pursued?” We want to dive deeper at TechSec. And we will.

The conversation Martha and I had with our advisors led to some interesting, topical points. We’ll be announcing the program and panelists soon. You can check out last year’s educational here for a feel of what we’ll be aiming at, bigger and even better in 2016. It will be great, and you can hold me to that!

I especially like how we have some of our past “20 under 40” winners on our advisory board: Ralph Nerette, Sharon Shaw and Jeremy Brecher. (We know how to pick them!) Along with input from longtime industry pros, they provide us with unique perspectives and know what those in the industry want and need to know in today’s fast-changing security environment.

Thanks to each member of our advisory board. Please stay tuned for more info on TechSec, filled with what will be most current and forward-looking hot topics in the industry. 

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Security System News’ team has done a preliminary vetting of the nominations for SSN’s “20 under 40” awards, with a full study to come this week. The deadline for nominations was July 1, and thank you, readers, for coming through!

Although we do have two categories, one for integrators, I am primarily responsible for the end user awards.

I say it every year because it’s true: Each year we get such great nominees, so qualified, extremely professional, smart and deserving of being honored in the industry.

We always have a tough time selecting the final 20. We select some of them to participate on panels at TechSec and honor all of them at a ceremony at that annual premier event. The “20 under 40” panels at TechSec are always among the most appreciated by attendees, according to our surveys, because who in the industry doesn’t want to know what these smart, innovative people need and want to do their jobs successfuly?

In order to select the best of the best, we rely on nominators, often calling upon them, again, to expand upon their reasons. We talk to our TechSec Advisory Board. We mull. We agonize. Then we choose.

This year’s nominees are physical security directors at big-name corporations, major retailers and hospitality groups, healthcare institutions, municipalities and utilities—many, many nominated.

Thank you for nominating your best and brightest. Finalists will be contacted soon by me, and I’ll do a profile of each one for Security Systems News, both online and in the print edition. So stay tuned. You’ll want to hear what these pros have to say.

I think the industry is in good hands.