Tim Whall has wasted no time since becoming CEO of Protection One. For starters, since helping close the deal in June for the nation’s No. 2 electronic security provider, he’s met with employees in all 65 branches while assembling an impressive executive team. SSI spoke with Whall about his plans at P1 and other industry topics.
How would you describe your management style?
My managing style is to create the strongest team of industry vets and provide them the tools they need to accelerate growth and deliver world-class service. Strategically, I look for positions of strength that can be leveraged by our company and find attractive areas of growth and differentiation. The team at Protection One and our efforts align with these beliefs.
P1 has five divisions. What are your plans with each of them?
Each one of them [residential, commercial, multifamily, national accounts and wholesale monitoring] is targeted with growing its piece of the business. You are either going forward or backward. You can’t stay the same. We like each of the pieces of the business. I know it has been widely touted [we would explore selling] the wholesale monitoring piece - those were never opinions that I gave anybody.
So Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) is not for sell?
It is definitely not. We are looking at things right now that would make us an even more attractive wholesale partner and things that we could actually do for our dealers. We are the largest provider of these services. We think we have a great offering. But we are actually trying to enhance it just like each of the other segments of the business.
Did you step away from the industry in the time you left Stanley/HSM at the end of 2008?
I’m not sure I’d say that I ever left the industry. I worked in a different capacity for sure, but I didn’t go anywhere else. I was working on a lot of deals, getting a much better understanding from the financing side and a chance to see a lot of the different opportunities that were out there that presented themselves in that time. From the get-go, this was one that we really thought was the best fit.
What is your take on ADT’s acquisition of Broadview?
Acquisitions over the past few years have definitely changed the landscape of the industry. Quite frankly, they have limited consumer choice. However, we see an opportunity given Protection One’s national footprint to actually provide both a local and national choice to residential and commercial consumers. In this landscape, we believe what will set our company apart - no matter how large the competitor - is the ability to provide great customer service. Innovative service delivery will be key in the security industry and is a major focus for us at Protection One.
What were your key objectives in meeting with staff at all 65 branches?
I studied the company and followed the financials and knew quite a bit about it from afar for the last two years or so. But it is a good chance to meet all of the actual employees and get some feedback from them on what we do well as a company, what we could do better, what would the customers like to us to improve as we move forward, as well as introduce myself.
Bob Dale is our senior vice president of sales and so he accompanied me on most of the trips and to help share the vision with them in terms of where we think P1 sits inside the industry and where we think we can go with it.
What did you learn from the employees?
In a transaction like this you are never sure what the enthusiasm level is going to be. I am very impressed with the enthusiasm of the actual Protection One team that we met out there. They like working with each other, they love taking care of the customers. They enjoy working for Protection One. I think they were pleased that we weren’t a strategic coming in and I think they like the message that we gave them.
Did you learn of any challenges or facets of the company you weren’t aware of?
Definitely not. This was not a short deal in the works. This took a good long time to get over the finish line. I’m happy to say it was as expected. If I had to [identify] something that was different [than I expected] it would be that the employees are actually much more enthusiastic than I thought they might be.
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