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Lethbridge security entrepreneur opens Calgary operation

In June 2009 Nick Nicolacopoulos, president and owner of Guardian Security Solutions Ltd in the southern Alberta city of Lethbridge, opened Guardian Security and Technology Solutions Ltd in Calgary, 216 km to the north. Both companies are dealers for SecurTek Monitoring Solutions, a wholly-owned security and monitoring subsidiary of SaskTel, the Saskatchewan telco.


October 26, 2009
By Peter Caulfield

The Calgary operation is a former AAA Alarm Systems Ltd. dealer outlet
that came up for sale in May 2009, when AAA Alarms, a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc., and SecurTek announced an
agreement whereby AAA Alarms acquired SecurTek’s Manitoba customer
accounts in exchange for AAA Alarm’s accounts outside of Manitoba,
predominately in Alberta. SecurTek and AAA Alarms began servicing their
respective customers on 29 June 2009.

Service continued uninterrupted during the transition and both
companies agreed to honour existing contracts and pricing. A former
regional manager for Shaw Cable in Saskatchewan and Alberta,
Nicolacopoulos says he had a hankering to go into business for himself
for a long time before he finally took the plunge.

“My father back in Montreal is an entrepreneur and I always wanted to do the same thing,” he says.

While he was working in Saskatchewan, Nicolacopoulos became well acquainted with SaskTel, SecurTek’s parent company.

“They’re very good at serving their customers,” he says. “When I
decided to start my own business, I knew I wanted to become a SecurTek
dealer for that reason.”

Nicolacopoulos says SecurTek has an excellent understanding of its
business. "They don’t disappoint their customers," he says. “They have
a good sense of the market in western Canada and what makes it
different from the rest of the country. And they know what they have to
do in order to make it happy and keep it that way. SecurTek runs its
business to very high standards. It gives me a comforting feeling to
know our customers can trust SecurTek. It takes a big burden off our
shoulders.”

When Nicolacopoulos started his Lethbridge-based company in October
2005, he focused on designing, installing and servicing alarm, access
control and surveillance systems for residential customers. In 2006, he
saw there were other business opportunities and expanded into the local
commercial market. Today, approximately 80 per cent of his business is
provided monitoring-related products and services for residential and
commercial customers and the remaining 20 per cent is
non-monitoring-related products and services, such as surveillance and
access control, for the commercial market.

Nicolacopoulos says he enjoys being a SecurTek dealer.

“SecurTek isn’t a huge company,” he says. “It’s small enough that I
know I have a voice with them. Nicolacopoulos appreciates the marketing
support he gets from SecurTek. “We get together with other SecurTek
dealers at dealer conferences and exchange ideas back and forth,” he
said. “It works well for the company and for the dealers.”

The fact SecurTek is a western company with “western common sense” is
also a plus. “We don’t have to follow a particular cookie-cutter system
that’s set out for us by SecurTek,” he said. “We can custom-design
systems for customers that fits their needs. For example, we offer 20
alarm panels by three different manufacturers — Honeywell, GE and DSC.
We have plenty of choice.”

With headquarters in Yorkton, a small city (population 19,000) in
southeastern Saskatchewan near the Manitoba border, SecurTek is
celebrating its 10th anniversary in business in 2009. Supported by two
Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC)-listed monitoring stations in
Yorkton and Winnipeg, the company’s authorized dealer network stretches
across the country, providing commercial and residential customers with
video monitoring solutions, medical alert systems, guard services and
home automation.

SecurTek has 40 retail dealers across Canada and 60,000 retail and
commercial customers, most of whom are located outside Saskatchewan.
SecurTek offers a freeze monitoring service. Operating 24/7, the freeze
sensor transmits an alarm signal when the temperature drops quickly.
According to the company’s website, “Freeze sensors are extremely
beneficial in seasonal homes or anywhere there may be a concern of
pipes freezing in winter months.”

Barry Rogers, SecurTek’s president and COO, says his company was formed
when SaskTel, Canada’s only remaining publicly-owned telco, “saw an
opportunity to leverage its strengths and offer a full suite of telco
services and leading-edge products and services.”
“SaskTel has a very loyal customer base in the province,” Rogers said.

“It supports public service initiatives that are combined with private
sector opportunities.”
Rogers says SecurTek has a similar business model to other service
provider-dealer networks, such as some wireless telephone and public
automobile insurance companies. Rogers says the company has grown since
it was founded in 1999 because of the TLC service it offers its
customers and the close relationships it enjoys with its dealers.

“We offer competitive dealer commission structure,” he said. “And we
don’t compete directly with own dealers.”

Thanks to the recently announced deal with AAA Alarms, SecurTek has
become one of the largest providers in Alberta and AAA Alarms has
strengthened its position as the leading security provider in Manitoba.