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State of Residential Security 2019: Challenges & Opportunities in the Connected Home

Industry execs share which technologies excite them, challenges that keep them awake at night and how they are pursuing success in the connected home in this exclusive roundtable.

State of Residential Security 2019: Challenges & Opportunities in the Connected Home

From left: Michael Morton (EMC Security), John Campau (Comtronics), Bryan Bates (Bates Security) and Paul Romanelli (Suffolk Security Systems).

In past years, Security Sales & Integration has convened a group of executives during Honeywell’s annual authorized dealer convention for an in-depth conversation about their particular challenges and successes.

The goal: To cultivate an open dialogue that provides SSI readers insights into what other companies are experiencing in their respective markets and the obstacles they are navigating.

In the January issue we are pleased to bring you two exclusive roundtables — specific to the residential market (below) and the commercial sector (coming next week) — conducted at CONNECT 2018 co-hosted by Resideo and Honeywell, in Marco Island, Fla.

The event marked the final time all the residential dealers and commercial integrators would convene at the same convention, following Honeywell’s decision in 2017 to spin off its Homes product portfolio and ADI Global distribution business into the standalone company, Resideo.

In the ensuing discussion, you’ll hear from Bryan Bates, vice president of Bates Security in Lexington, Ky.; Michael Morton, chief revenue officer of EMC Security near Atlanta; Paul Romanelli, president of Suffolk Security Systems in Southold, N.Y.; and, John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics in Jackson, Mich.

Find out how each of these respected security pros is responding to an increasingly crowded marketplace, their residential strategies for 2019, as well how new technologies and services are helping them meet the demands and expectations of their respective residential clienteles.

What brought a smile to your face in 2018 or made you glad you’re doing what you do?

BRYAN BATES: For us, we’re very new in Jacksonville [Fla.]. We are only in three markets — Lexington and Prestonsburg [Ky.], and Jacksonville. Every week is something new for me. It brings a smile to my face, as I’m bringing on new, additional clients. We had a big win in Nassau County’s school system, where we put in 800 cameras. It’s pretty exciting for us to be in the market for about a year-and-a-half and to bring on that kind of client. We just trained the principals. I’m working directly with their security specialists. It’s been neat to see how they’re using the technology to help with the very real problem that America is facing with a potential crisis within the school. That’s probably what stands out to me the most.

Jacksonville has been fantastic for us. I would not recommend a greenfield expansion to any fellow dealer, but it’s been rewarding because you know that everything you’ve got you’ve had to earn. We’ve traditionally been a big fish in a small pond at the mothership, if you will. To move into a location where there is no name recognition and you’re literally just deciding what you’re doing every day has been eye-opening.

MICHAEL MORTON: We’re in Metro Atlanta. It’s an extraordinarily competitive market, but I think what we’re most happy about is that we haven’t reached a stall point, or it hasn’t seemed to slow. We see a lot of commercial growth and development. We see a lot of multifamily new construction, which is a great business for us. There’s the fact that we haven’t softened on the economy, to a great degree. Residential build is starting to slow a little bit, but it carried us all the way through 2018. We’re happy about that. We’re a little nervous about what’s going to happen next year with the economy, but it’s been a good year this year.

When we started our budget season at the end of last year, we kind of thought this weight was going to carry us through 2018. Much beyond that, we were a little nervous and remain nervous. We’re starting to see signs that the residential new construction is slowing. That’s an indicator that maybe we reached that overbuild point again, which is a little nerve-wracking, but we’re not seeing [a downturn in] multifamily or commercial industrial build. That gives us some positive indicators.

PAUL ROMANELLI: We’ve had some really good success this year with the Lyric product line. That’s been really a mainstay of us for the last two years now. We’ve been grateful to be on board with that product from the beginning. We know all the quirks and little idiosyncrasies to make sure it’s placed properly and working successfully. Our clients love it, which is great. It’s been nice to see some cleaning up of the Total Connect this year and some new features that were added. That’s a big part of our market.

We have kind of become known on Eastern Long Island as the premier company for remote services. There’s a lot of opportunity for that out there. We also have an HVAC background as well. Adding thermostats into that market has been big for us. Nationally, I think the No. 1 selling Z-Wave device is a door lock. In our market, it’s thermostats. That’s been really good for us. I’m happy to be along on that ride.

JOHN CAMPAU: What puts a smile on my face? There are a few things. Let’s start with technology. I’m just thrilled and excited about all the new technologies, the apps and the Cloud. It’s not so much now owning stuff. It’s just having access to stuff, and I think that’s pretty cool. Our employees really give me good reason to have a zip in my step because it’s fun to watch them grow into their own positions. I remember, when I was younger, it was always exciting when my dad would throw a bone out there, and I chased it down. Now I’m the guy throwing them, and it’s really gratifying to watch everybody rise to the occasion. I just like to empower them and let them blossom, and they’re doing that.

We have these Verizon retail stores. Our tagline in our business is “Smart phones connected to smart homes.” We just drive that. Our two businesses have converged. The two industries have converged. It’s just been an exciting ride, watching how these two industries — the cell phone industry and the electronic security industry — come together. Now we sell the phone. We sell the alarm. We get the app going, and we make it all happen. We hand them the phone, and they’re connected. That really gives me a lot of excitement and a lot more excitement when everything just fits together so well.

Keep reading to find out what had these execs most aggravated in 2018, as well as what tech they’re looking forward to in 2019…

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