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Monitronics hopes to boost Canadian dealer network with Lanvac alliance

Ottawa-based Lanvac hopes an alliance with Monitronics will help its dealer base access much needed financing options while the Dallas-based monitoring company aims to attract more dealers to its Canadian network.



June 16, 2009
By Jennifer Brown

Although Monitronics has been in Canada for two-and-a-half years, it
has been monitoring dealer accounts Stateside. The company is one of
the largest in North America with close to 800,000 accounts.

Lanvac, which provides third-party wholesale monitoring, has provided
service to Canadian dealers for 25 years with stations in Quebec City,
Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto (Scarborough) and Burnaby, B.C.

Monitronics currently has 22 dealers with about 6,000 accounts
in Canada. Those dealers run from Toronto to the west, but the company
was lacking a presence in key provinces such as Quebec and anxious to
grow.

To attract new dealers, Monitronics felt it had to offer a
Canadian-based monitoring service, says Patrick Soo, director of
Canadian operations, based in Vancouver.

“While existing dealers were quite comfortable with the operational
side of the way we conducted business, it was more the prospective
dealers we were hearing the feedback from. While they liked that we
don’t compete with our dealers they had concerns that we monitor
outside the country,” says Soo. “It was a perception issue and based on
that response we felt it was necessary to make some changes and find a
partner we could move forward with.”

By offering bilingual call centres, Soo says Monitronics will hopefully
become more appealing to dealers in other provinces, especially Quebec
which represents a significant chunk of the Canadian market.

“Our central station is bilingual, but it’s English and Spanish, so
with Lanvac having two central stations in the province of Quebec it
opens up 22 per cent of the Canadian market for us,” he says.

In B.C., the Burnaby Lanvac monitoring centre is trilingual, offering
Cantonese, Mandarin and English speakers to deal with clients.

Soo and Lanvac’s director of special projects, Bert O’Grady emphasizes
that ownership of Lanvac remains the same and that no shares changed
hands.

“There is no financial relationship,” says O’Grady, wanting to put to
rest rumours that the arrangement might have meant a merger or takeover.

In choosing a company to do business with in Canada, Steve Baker,
vice-president of sales and dealer development for Monitronics, says it
had become apparent that to continue to successfully attract dealers in
Canada the company had to offer monitoring based here.

“When Patrick first came up here to Canada his goal was to create a
professional network of dealers and that was the focus,” says Baker.
“But to be truly competitive in Canada we realized we had to have an
alliance like this.”

Baker says Lanvac fit the bill because they share the same philosophy that says they won’t compete with their dealers.
“We did a fair amount of due diligence in terms of the quality of the
contract monitoring central stations we looked at and we had numerous
discussions with various companies and through that process it was
apparent Lanvac possessed more of the same forward-looking goals we
did,” says Baker.

Lanvac, which is owned by brothers Bill and John Georgoudes, has always been adamant that it won’t compete with its dealers.

“I am extremely grateful to all those alarm dealers across Canada who
have placed their faith in us and have helped us to develop into the
company we are today,” John Georgoudes said in a statement. “No matter
how big a potential subscriber might be, they cannot deal directly with
the Lanvac Group and the same is true at Monitronics.”

“Our customer base is important to us in that we are dealer-only
focused and Lanvac is dealer-only focused and that is a pillar of our
program,” says Baker. “That attracted us to Lanvac initially and the
more we got to know John and Bill and Bert it became readily apparent
the integrity, trust and quality of their operation was hands and feet
above everybody else. At that point it was an easy decision to say
these are the guys we want to partner with.”

O’Grady says he first met with Soo 18 months ago.

“I was a skeptic at first; I wasn’t familiar with the Monitronics
brand, but we quickly discovered that we are both strictly dealer based
companies — we own no accounts of our own and we’ve committed that to
our dealers for years. It doesn’t matter how big the prospective client
is, they can’t deal directly with Lanvac and they can’t deal directly
with Monitronics — they are going to have to find a dealer to take care
of them.”

O’Grady says the alliance with Monitronics will hopefully provide
Lanvac dealers with the ability to access financing to grow their
businesses.

“We see it as advantageous to our other dealers in that in the past
some dealers have had to look elsewhere to find the financing they’ve
needed to run their business and of course most often when they find
that financing their monitoring goes with it. So here’s an opportunity
for some of our dealers who may wish to grow their business to seek
outside financing with Monitronics and continue to use our monitoring
services.”

O’Grady says Monitronics did an extensive review of Lanvac’s operation prior to completing the alliance agreement.

“When they came to Montreal both Steve (Baker) and Patrick (Soo) were
there along with Rick Hudson, vice-president of operations, and they
opened the closets, looked for the skeletons and watched our people.
They checked our technology and came and saw our Ottawa station and the
Vancouver station. They are comfortable with the way we operate and
frankly that makes us a little bit proud,” says O’Grady.

He also said the relationship with Monitronics will hopefully help grow
Lanvac’s Toronto monitoring station, which was acquired from Level 6
Security two years ago, but which remains one of Lanvac’s smaller
stations.
The transfer of Canadian Monitronics accounts to Lanvac’s central
station network will begin in July and both companies predict the
switch should be seamless.

“It’s a relatively normal transition to take the existing Canadian
account base into our stations,” says O’Grady. “It’s not a volume we’ve
never dealt with before and we’re comfortable we can handle the influx
of existing accounts.”


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