Peter Beare positions Ultrak to compete in a changing market
Nov 1, 2001 12:00 PM
By Jack Mallon
Peter Beare was an executive in the surveillance camera industry in the United Kingdom when CCTV cameras sprang up throughout the City of London. In his current job as chief operating officer of Ultrak (NASDAQ: ULTK), Beare is in a position to visualize the inevitable industry changes in the United States.
In England, the catalyst for the proliferation of the cameras in public buildings, on street corners and in the Underground subway system was the Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist bombings. Now New Yorkers ¡ª and the rest of the country ¡ª are facing similar fears and anxieties.
Beare will need to tap into his past experience with U.K. security product manufacturers and distributors Norbain and Baxall. Since being appointed as president and COO of Ultrak, the embattled Dallas-based CCTV and access control manufacturer, Beare has been moving quickly and decisively. He closed down the company's sales operations in France, shifted the central warehouse from Belgium to the U.K., sold its Diamond Power division and its equity interest in Detection Systems and reduced the company's overall work force from roughly 750 to 550.
When asked what he believed was his most significant contribution to the company, the London-born executive responds: "I'm particularly proud of the integration layer I put over the whole operation.
"All of our products can now work off one integrated platform ¡ª and we can plug in other applications. Also, I introduced 22 new products ¡ª five or six of them consisting of total software."
Ultrak, a manufacturer and distributor of surveillance cameras and CCTV systems, hit a wall last year, reporting a loss of $57 million on sales of $199.9 million (down 4% from the previous year's sales of $208.4 million). The company saw its stock plunge from a 52-week high of $6.00 in January 2001 to a low of $1.02 on Sept. 19.
With the strong backing of founder and chairman George Broady, Beare, who initially joined Ultrak in May of 2000 as a vice president, was promoted in August of 2000 and was given the task of streamlining the company.
In August of last year, Beare brought in Wendy Diddell to head up sales, in October he hired Chris Sharng as his new CFO, and in January 2001, he recruited Ray Payne as VP of engineering.
In October, further changes in the corporate leadership were announced with four new members, including Beare being appointed to the Board of Directors. The others were Ron Harnish, a New York attorney with a strong background in government affairs, Bryan Tate, CEO of Digitel Corp, a privately held Atlanta-based telecommunications company, and Alastair J.A.B. Gunning, a U.K. barrister.
"There was a lack of integration of the company," Beare continued in an interview at the ASIS show in October in San Antonio, Texas. "Units were doing their own thing. We have been striving to create one mind, one culture and one way."
At the same time, the executive points out he doesn't want to stifle creativity and innovation, but he wants everyone to be reading from the same playbook.
Ultrak was generating revenues of just $1.7 million when it was bought in 1988 by Broady, a former banker and stock analyst who was successful in the building of Network Security, a Dallas-based alarm company he took public in 1981.
Ultrak grew rapidly and made four major security acquisitions in Europe and a fifth in South Africa in the mid- to late-1990s. Its stock price mirrored its performance, rising to a high of $37.00 in 1997.
Last year, Broady found himself in the middle of an industry controversy when he attempted a proxy battle to take over control of Detection Systems. With a 21 percent stake in the New York-based security product firm, Broady was looking to sell the company and liquefy his holdings. With the proxy battle looming, Detection One sold out to a German firm, and Ultrak netted approximately $24 million in the transaction. The bulk of the funds were used to reduce Ultrak debt.
The 44-year-old Beare was raised in Manchester and attended the University of Leeds in that city, the site of a major bombing in the mid-1990s.
"In 1998, I came to the states on behalf of Baxall when I was told that we couldn't compete in the U.S. market," Beare says. "Within a year, I had three major American accounts."
Now, he is reviving Ultrak operations to meet the strong demand for surveillance cameras as the country braces for more threats in the uncertain future.
Jack Mallon is founder and principal of Mallon & Associates, an investment banking firm in New York that serves the global security/crime control industry. He also is editor and publisher of Mallon's Security Investing, a monthly financial newsletter on investing opportunities in the industry. For more information, contact Mallon & Associates, 555 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Phone: (212) 697-0028. Fax: (212) 697-1576. Email: .Web sites: and .