ADT Remakes Commercial Division With Expertise From P1 ‘Owner’s Club’
A group of owners and executives from systems integration companies acquired by Protection 1 are playing a central role in helping ADT become a leading national accounts provider after its split with Tyco.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — After taking the helm of Protection 1 in 2010, Tim Whall proclaimed an intent to exponentially grow the sputtering national accounts division inside the largely residential-focused company. The goal: take the roughly $6 million business unit to $100 million in three years.
Significant strides were made toward making that objective a reality, and today a hyper focus on national accounts has never been more acute. Whall and his executive team are working to reconstruct a commercial division at ADT, following last year’s blockbuster deal by Apollo Global Management to acquire ADT (stripped of its commercial business in the Tyco split) and merge it with P1.
Fueling P1’s success in the hotly contested national accounts arena is a handful of strategic acquisitions consummated in recent years. These regional integration specialists provided P1 with complex skillsets, highly sought-after clientele and a customer-centric business culture that dovetails with its own.
Most important, and unique to the industry, was to retain key executives and allow them the autonomy to operate free from corporate bureaucracy that may otherwise smother their business acumen and the ability to execute initiatives that made them successful in the first place.
“The companies that we acquired brought in leadership in specific areas of the commercial business that furthered Protection 1’s capabilities in integrated systems, network security and sophisticated video applications,” Whall explains. “The companies that we acquired were led by owner/operators that were deeply entrenched in the day-to-day operations and provided high-touch and personal service to their customers.”
The acquired companies that operate within P1’s Integrated Solutions (IS) division, and the owners and executives that stayed on, include: Camtronic Security Integration (Jay Linton, Jim Finley and Paul Yezzi); Integration Logistics (Ken Schafenberg and John Smolinski, who retired); Suntera Security (Les Paul Vernon); Vintage Security (Bert McDonald); and Pacific Security Integrations (Rick Osborne).
At ISC West 2017, P1 hosted a dinner for the group, dubbed the Owner’s Club, to mark the (roughly) five-year anniversary for several of the members. Each of them has assumed a leadership position as director, vice president or senior vice president. (Joe Nuccio of super-regional ASG Security, acquired concurrently in 2015 by Apollo with P1, assumed a role as senior vice president of business development prior to being appointed president of ADT’s dealer partnerships in May.)
Gaining IT, Cybersecurity Expertise
As one example of the IT and integrated systems expertise acquired by P1 in these transactions, Newark, Del.-based Integration Logistics came with a Cisco-certified network operations center (NOC) and a team of software engineers that provide 24/7 remote diagnostics and monitoring services. This allowed P1 to expand its commercial play to include cyber/network security via a managed services offering.
Integration Logistics’ client roster included major national accounts, led by Bank of America. The fast-rising company had become a hot commodity in the market; Schafenberg and Smolinski fielded acquisition meetings from multiple national players.
How Integration Logistics came to be an integral piece to the IS division is not dissimilar to other Owner’s Club members. Each offered its own commercial expertise. The assurance of autonomy and the P1 executive team’s granular understanding of the industry appealed to them all. Each had deep relationships with their clients, Whall explains, and wanted to stay with a company that was fixated on those things as well.
“It takes effort and focus to deliver it,” Schafenberg says. “Other companies become bureaucratic and they become too process-driven and everything has to fit into a production model. They lose sight of what it takes to deliver to the customer. We have that magic.”
The IS division has further solidified with each passing acquisition. Where once members in their respective regions communicated independently, the inaugural Owner’s Club gathering served as a kick-off for future powwows. The idea is to better foster communication and leverage the group as a whole for best practices, explains Chris BenVau, P1 senior vice president, enterprise solutions, who oversees the division.
“A part of the story is it’s for our customers so we can be a full-service provider, and the secret sauce there is to be nimble but have the national footprint,” he says. “The other thing is the executive team recognizing that we have to find valuable, rewarding roles for them but also give them that flexibility they have always had. It’s not a façade. The talent these gentlemen bring to Protection 1 is real.”
The Owner’s Club is not exclusive to its current membership. BenVau explains P1 is in acquisition mode and actively looking to beef up its IS division ranks and customer base. For now the P1 brand in the national accounts space will go forward before an eventual transition to ADT.
“We are really happy with the growth and diversification of our commercial market through these strategic acquisitions. And just as important has been the quality of talent we have been able to bring into the organization that makes us better overall,” Whall says. “It’s been a great strategy for us at Protection 1, and one we will continue to leverage at ADT as we bring ADT back as a powerhouse in the commercial market.”
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