Established in 1930, Southfield-based Guardian Alarm has acquired several alarm companies since 2010 and has grown to employ about 1,250 workers in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Canada. Karen Majeske, Guardian’s director of customer care, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about the company’s growth and how trends in technology have impacted their services.
DDN: Guardian hired more than 300 metro Detroiters this year. Why the sudden growth?
KM: (The growth in 2013) was primarily in our guard services division, where we do mostly guards for areas like multi-tenant office building and industrial type parking lots. We have received quite a few contracts in that area, so it’s a good sign to us that the industrial industry is growing.
DDN: How has technology impacted your business?
KM: Our medical monitoring division includes a personal emergency response system, which is an emergency button that customers can wear around their neck or like a wristwatch. It was getting more and more challenging as a lot of seniors were opting not to have their traditional phone lines in an effort to save money. Once we teamed up with AT&T about two years ago to use their wireless (machine-to-machine) technology, we no longer needed a landline to install (those systems). The wireless transmission of signals has been a real plus in our business.
DDN: What other security trends have you seen or do you expect to see in the near future?
KM: A lot of homes and businesses are getting (closed-circuit televisions) CCTV. Everybody wants to be able to be able to look at cameras on their smart devices and iPads. They can log onto their smartphone or iPad and see what’s going on inside and outside of their home, or in their businesses and parking lots.
On the business side, we’re seeing growth in access control, which is where people present either a card or a key fob, and it unlocks a door. In fact, I just had a vendor with a new access control that comes with two door readers. It was plug-in-play, really easy to install. You don’t have to have a lot of complex software.
DDN: Guardian has seen a 15 to 20 percent year-over-year increase in customers installations for 2013 over last year. What do you think has most influenced this growth?
KM: Our 2013 year-to-date growth in both installation and service revenue is attributed to a number of business development strategies, such as referrals from our existing customers, acquisitions, strategic marketing and the insurgence of new construction activity in both the residential and commercial markets.
DDN: You’ve acquired four companies — Alert Alarm, Allstate Alarm, AAA Alarm, and Master Guard — over the past two years. Why did Guardian feel it was a good time to make these acquisitions?
KM: Guardian has been building relationships with various alarm company owners for years and many are now reaching retirement age. A slower economy will usually prompt these owners to retire as they may have been losing more business than they were able to replace.