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Whall Positioned to Build Protection One’s Future

Jim Covert's and Tim Whall's track record of taking over the reins of struggling national electronic security systems providers has become the stuff of industry legend.

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Jim Covert‘s and Tim Whall‘s track record of taking over the reins of struggling national electronic security systems providers has become the stuff of industry legend. First, there was the acquisition of SecurityLink (a company Covert had founded and sold to Ameritech in 1994) in 2001 and subsequent $1 billion sale (included parent company Cambridge Protection Industries LLC) to Tyco later that same year, and then there was the purchase of Honeywell Security Monitoring (HSM) in 2004 (when Covert’s and Whall’s noncompetes ran out) for $315.5 million and eventual sale to Stanley three years later for $545 million (Whall stayed on for a year, stepping down as COO in 2008).

<p>Jim Covert</p>Well the clock had been ticking and once again Whall and possibly Covert (not yet officially revealed) have once again entered the fray with yesterday’s announcement that “an affiliate” of private equity firm GTCR has offered $392 million for Protection One, also assuming $436 million of debt. GTCR was also involved in Covert’s SecurityLink and HSM acquisitions. Is Covert associated with this “affiliate”? We might gain a clearer picture when the official offer (which Pro One has already said it will accept) is made May 3. What has been confirmed is Whall will be taking over for Richard Ginsburg as CEO. Ginsburg was instrumental in resurrecting Protection One from the brink of bankruptcy oblivion and a tarnished reputation during the early years of this century. His effort contributed to him being named to SSI‘s Industry Hall of Fame in 2008. While both Whall and Ginsburg are consummate professionals, my take on Whall is he has more intensity and carries more of a take-no-prisoners attitude.

There are many other interesting wrinkles to this story as well. Among them: Whall is a former  executive vice president of operations for ADT Security Services; Whall helped turn SecurityLink into an operation (along with other Cambridge holdings) ADT was willing to shell out $1 billion for; and the sale of Cambridge to ADT included National Alarm Computer Center (NACC), which later became part of Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) before being taken over by current owner Protection One (although the company likes to keep this somewhat hush-hush). Talk about six degrees of separation.

<p>Tim Whall</p>This is shaping up to be quite a year in the national security services arena, with the top three providers all involved in major transactions (Tyco acquiring and merging No. 2 Broadview, formerly Brink’s Home Security, into market leader ADT accounting for the other two) during the first half of 2010. Just when it looked like ADT was going to ride off into the sunset as the uncontested dominant nationwide security systems and monitoring provider, particularly in the residential market, here comes a rejuvenated Protection One with deep pockets and superior leadership. I for one would never bet against Whall. This guy lives and breathes the business of security, but is just as driven to serve the customer as he is the bottom line. 

This situation is going to be fascinating, exciting and fun to watch unfold and play out. Is the purchase price a bargain, too steep or just right? How long will Whall (and perhaps Covert) stay in the game this time? Will we see another meteoric rise and sell-off (perhaps seeing these assets eventually wind up with Tyco, Stanley, UTC, etc.) or are the principals in it for the long haul? HSM Protection Services was acquisitively aggressive; will we now see that with Pro One? Should ADT and Stanley Convergent Security Solutions (where current Stanley CSS North America President Tony Byerly who had been a long-time close colleague of  Whall’s now becomes a rival) be concerned about Pro One stepping up its commercial business? What will the impact be for other national, regional and local security services providers? What about the investing community and end users?

The answers to these questions are anybody’s guess, but all will be made known in the coming months. Until then you can also read what several of the industry’s leading analysts have to say here.

As always, thanks for reading ...

Scott Goldfine


Article Topics
Blogs · Acquisitions · Business Tools · Protection 1 · Under Surveillance · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration, directing all editorial aspects of the magazine brand in print, electronically, online and in person. The voluminous, innovative and award-winning body of work he has distinguished himself with since joining the publication in 1998 includes groundbreaking research, landmark features, leadership roundtables, high profile case studies, and many industry exclusives. Well versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is a nationally known figure in demand as an industry presenter and subject matter expert to mainstream media. He is responsible for developing many unique products and programs, including the SSI Industry Hall of Fame, Control Panel (industry’s first E-mail newsletter), Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ), Marketing Marvel, Installers of the Year, Integrated Installation of the Year, Security Industry Census, Systems Integration Study, Installation Business Report, Operations & Opportunities Report, Commercial End-User Study and Security’s Fantastic Fleets. Recognized for his relationship building, integrity and lead-by-example ethic, Goldfine is a solutions-oriented team player who advises and collaborates with industry dealer/integrator, consultant, distributor, central station and manufacturer icons, luminaries and executive business leaders on a daily basis. He is also actively involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), PSA-Tec, SAMMY Awards, International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC), Electronic Security Technology Summit (ESTS), Mission 500, Electronic Security Expo (ESX), ASIS Int’l, Honeywell CONNECT and other supplier conventions. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee and PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council. A certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast, Goldfine graduated with honors from Cal State, Northridge with a management degree in Radio-Television-Film. His professional media endeavors have encompassed magazines, Internet, radio, TV, film, records, teletext and books. Goldfine resides in the Charlotte, N.C., area with his wife, son and three cats.
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