Earlier this year, ADT Security Services broadened its reach into the petrochemical, education and banking industries by purchasing commercial security systems integrator FirstService Security, a division of publicly traded FirstService Corp., for about $187 million. Headquartered in Collegeville, Pa., FirstService Security operates under the Security Services & Technologies (SST) brand name in the United States, and under the Intercon Security brand name in Canada.
FirstService possesses a roster of Fortune 1,000 companies and large regional institutions that include Ernst & Young, Manulife Financial, Royal Bank of Canada, University of Pennsylvania, Shell, Toronto Hydro Corp., Verizon and Waste Management. In Canada, the business also offers central station monitoring and guard services. FirstService reported revenues of more than $200 million during the past 12 months and employs about 2,400 people with 17 offices in the United States and Canada.
I recently sat down with ADT Regional Director Jim Lantrip to discuss what this major deal means for the nation’s largest installing security systems contractor, and its impact on the industry. He provides keen insight on the current state of the petrochemical marketplace and other hot verticals. I hope you enjoy this online exclusive.
Jim, what’s going on with ADT? Bring us up to date.
We recently acquired FirstService Security/Security Services & Technologies (SST), which is a big deal to us. They’ve been running down a parallel path that ADT has been going down in certain markets. So they bring a lot of exciting things to the table inside our company that help us be a better integrator across the board. And we probably bring some exciting things to the table for them to help them be a better, bigger integrator with a farther reach across America, and around the world. From a product and integration perspective, I think one of the neat things we have happening today is the vertical market segmentation at ADT. We’ve gotten a bit more succinct in our vertical markets, and with the FSD acquisition that puts us right in the forefront of a couple key ones like petrochemical. ADT has done a reasonable amount of petrochemical work and SST has been extremely strong there, so getting them on our team now makes us even stronger in that arena. Put the two companies together and we’re the guys now.
There’s a lot of legislation and regulation in that particular market. How do you keep on top of that?
I have a couple guys on my team and talk with the advanced integration folks because they have a number of guys on their team where that is kind of what they do. They only do petrochemical and they stay current with MARSEC and all the FIPS stuff that’s coming down the pipe; it’s a full-time job. If you’re going to be on the petrochemicals side, you have to spend your day keeping up with that to see how our products apply to those solutions and solve our customers’ business problems.
How integrated of a solution are you typically providing them? Is it also integrated into some of their functions, operations and facilities or is security pretty much kept separate?
In my experience, there are two types of guys from the petrochemical market, and this kind of applies to the rest of the marketplace as well. There’s the hardcore security guys that want nothing to do with their systems touching anything else, maybe the network, but that’s about it. And then there are guys that are more operational and security is a piece of it. They are trained and have a great security understanding, and they want it all integrated across the board. So their SCADA system might be the backbone of our equipment to communicate, or we might integrate it at a software level so we can take some of their alarms into our systems. More often than not, the customer deals with a plant-wide operations perspective via a single platform and we monitor the valve pipes, pressures and the alarms associated with security.
What are top challenges right now?
I would still say it is getting security and IT together. Everything is going IT right now; you know it, everybody knows it. We’ve gone beyond just having traction with IT and IP cameras and readers and whatnot. Now we are really making inroads to get security and IT to work together from the early stages so they don’t come in later and have to battle it out. That is our biggest challenge in my opinion. The other biggest is getting to the right folks inside the companies so we can truly understand all their business issues. A lot of times we just deal with security and the rest of the players come in after the fact and say, “Oh, you put in some cameras here … you got that one in the corner. It’d be nice if it could go in this corner instead cause it would help me solve this problem if I could have access to the video, etc.’ But getting all the right players to bring a fully comprehensive solution to the table for our customers is still going to be our security focus.
Beyond petrochemical, what’s another hot market right now?
Universities is still a very hot market for us. We’ve got a lot of things going. In fact, we just segmented that out to different markets to create a more defined focus. I don’t remember if we’re calling it higher education or colleges and universities. We segmented out the K-12 from colleges and universities, junior colleges, that whole area to create a better focus on it, give more attention where it’s needed. Transportational logistics is the other key vertical we see as a hot market that we’ve broken inside our company.
What about utilities?
Utilities and logistics kind of fall in together. We talked about that, because petrochemical has some interesting aspects to it when you get to the energy companies, not necessarily petrochemical companies. The energy<