AlarmForce – A Detailed History

AlarmForce Industries Inc. is a Toronto based home security and home automation systems manufacturer and provider. Founded in 1988 by Joel Matlin, AlarmForce had over 135,000 customers across Canada and parts of the US at its largest point. In November 2017 AlarmForce was purchased by BCE.

In 1987, Joel Matlin was bought out of his former company Frisco Bay Industries. Frisco Bay Industries was a systems integrator, primarily focused on securing banks. There was a subdivision of Frisco Bay called Alarmtron. This division was focused on residential security. After years working together, Joel’s partner, Barry Katzoff, triggered a shotgun. Either Barry buys Joel’s stake or Joel buys Barry’s. This lead to Joel being bought out of Frisco Bay Industries.

After Joel’s leaving Frisco Bay Industries, he wanted to get back into home security. He did this In 1988 when Joel Matlin founded AlarmForce. AlarmForce focused primarily on residential home security. Matlin wanted to provide high level security at a low price. AlarmForce’s value proposition was $25/month monitoring with a three year contract. AlarmForce would provide a wireless alarm system for zero down. The customer would be responsible for the monthly monitoring.

In 1991, Joel Matlin wanted to bring two-way voice security to the residential market. He did this by creating Alarmvoice. Alarmvoice was a two-way voice home alarm system. AlarmForce began to market about two-way voice security. This was done through radio and tv marketing across Canada. All spots had Joel as the spokesperson and incorporated their jingle. AlarmForce became a known brand with Joel Matlin being the face of the company.

In 1997, Matlin decided to take AlarmForce public. AlarmForce became a publicly traded stock on the TSX. This allowed Matlin and the AlarmForce team to devote more attention to mass growth.

In 2000, AlarmForce launched AlarmPlus. This two-way voice alarm system had to be installed by installers. AlarmForce had installers across all major Canada markets.

While growing throughout Canada, Matlin and the AlarmForce team focused next on the US. AlarmForce expanded to the US in 2004. The first US state for expansion for AlarmForce was North Carolina. In 2007, AlarmForce expanded to Ohio and Georgia. Over the next three years AlarmForce expanded to Minnesota and Florida.

Joel Matlin knew that video surveillance was important to homeowners. This is why AlarmForce created VideoRelay in 2011. VideoRelay was a unit placed on the front door. VideoRelay had a camera and two-way speaker. This way when someone would come to the front door, video would be sent to the homeowner. It would also trigger a two-way voice call on the users smartphone. Well before it’s time, VideoRelay was a precursor to Ring.com.

Under Joel Matlin’s watch as President and CEO, AlarmForce had 135,000 monitored accounts.

In 2013, Joel Matlin was fired without cause. The AlarmForce board of directors appointed Anthony Pizzonia, then CFO, to become CEO. After the promotion, Anthony Pizzonia was fired a year later. After Joel’s firing, AlarmForce’s growth lowered. AlarmForce had to rebrand, as Matlin was the face and voice of the company. As opposed to doing marketing in house (which they historically did), AlarmForce started using outside marketing agencies. The results of this was new commercials, changing the jingle and changing the AlarmForce logo.

Joel Matlin sued AlarmForce for wrongful dismissal. AlarmForce settled with Joel. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

In 2014, AlarmForce launched AlarmForce Connect – a mobile app allowing users to control their systems. AlarmForce also started transitioning away from their proprietary hardware. AlarmForce began using 2GIG alarm panel instead of their own panels. AlarmForce also moved away from their VideoRelay product to a more common Skybell doorbell unit.

In 2015, Graham Badun was hired by AlarmForce and became President and CEO.

By 2017, every board member that was around for the Joel Matlin firing was no longer on the board of directors. In June 2017, AlarmForce sold off their US subscribers to Select Security. Select Security bought over 35,000 accounts for only $11.6 million.

The sale of the US accounts, was part of a larger plan, as AlarmForce was later sold to Bell Canada in November 2017. Bell purchased AlarmForce for $166 million. Bell then sold 39,000 customers located in Western Canada to Telus. Telus paid $66.5 million.

Bell continues to use the AlarmForce branding. The one difference is that they now state that AlarmForce is a Bell Canada company.

After Joel Matlin’s firing from AlarmForce, he founded Think Protection. Think Protection is a DIY home alarm company with $12.99/month monitoring. Think Protection also has no annual contract, a risk free 30-day money back guarantee and a three year warranty. Think Protection also provides their mobile app free.

 

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