A Heartfelt Thank You

Today, our Founder Joe Grillo begins the transition of his role as CEO to the next generation of leadership. While he may have joked about retiring for some time, we never actually thought it would happen. But today, he’s closer to closing the book on this significant and impactful chapter.

It isn't easy to retire from a company that you've helped create, nourish, and grow for more than ten years. Joe has been instrumental to our success, not only from a business perspective but in his effort to instill strong values, provide a clear sense of purpose beyond profits, and build a culture that has allowed our team and our company to flourish. 

As we reflect on Joe's history within the security industry, we are inspired and proud to be part of his evolution as a leader, industry evangelist, and trusted voice. The success of ACRE has created tremendous value for all of us, including our partners, who have been able to realize growth, and our customers, who are better equipped to address evolving security risks through the deployment of ACRE technologies.

Joe built a career that went beyond what he had envisioned for himself and the industry. There are so many highlights, but here are a few we feel are worth noting:

  • At ACRE, Joe's deep knowledge of the security and access control businesses resulted in strong operating results, 11 successful acquisitions, and the unification of unique brands under one umbrella.
  • Joe spent more than 40 years with leading high-tech brands across the globe. 
  • He established ACRE in 2012 as Principal and CEO, focused on developing the company's position as a leader in the access control industry with an eye on rapid organic and acquisitive growth. And grow we did…
  • Under his leadership, ACRE has grown to a company with close to $300 million in revenue and more than 500 employees worldwide.
  • Joe was one of the founders and president of HID.
  • He led the effort to sell HID, which Assa Abloy acquired in January 2001.
  • As ASSA ABLOY’s Global Technologies Division President and CEO from 2003 to 2008, Joe successfully transitioned its HID Global, Besam, and Hospitality business units through acquisitive growth and improved financial success. 
  • He was instrumental in launching the Global Technologies Division while a participating member of ASSA ABLOY’s Management Board since 2001.

How's that for a career? 

But there's more beyond the strategies, deals, and business successes. Joe has been a trusted mentor to so many of us and has always taken the time to share his knowledge and insights to ensure we can be as successful as possible in our daily roles. He's contributed significantly to the modernization of the industry and given his time to causes outside the business's day-to-day operations. He's wildly popular at events like ISC West, where you can't go five minutes without hearing someone call his name (Hey! Joe!) He's also never been one to shy away from the spotlight, which has made him a favorite contact of journalists across the globe.

We're honored to be part of this organization that you built, and we are truly grateful for your dedication that made ACRE what it is today.

Joe, here's to relaxing Wednesday afternoons by the pool with an umbrella in your drink and Mondays that don't start until 10 a.m.

The ACRE team

One Show, One Team, One ACRE

We were excited to have the opportunity to attend ISC West 2022 in Las Vegas last month, and we're so thankful for those that came to visit with us at the event. It was a busy few days for us, so there's a lot to cover. While nothing is quite like being live and in person, here's a short recap of a few of our exciting experiences.

So Fresh and New

ACRE leaders David Sullivan and Kim Loy had the pleasure of discussing the future of ACRE with several journalists and analysts at ISC West. They highlighted new ACRE innovations, the #OneACRE transition, and what the year ahead holds for our ever-growing organization.

Innovations Abound

At ACRE, we have an extensive portfolio of products and services designed to help our dealer partners build new revenue streams while ensuring the end-users we work with have access to the advanced solutions they need to ensure comprehensive security processes. We put some of our favorite access control solutions, AccessIt! and DNA Fusion, on display for our visitors to view throughout the conference and offered a new demo of one of the upcoming products that we expect to be highly valuable across the ACRE portfolio: ACT Mobile!

We Have a Winner

ACRE's Chief Product Officer, Kim Loy, was inducted  into both Security Sales & Integration's “2022 Hall of Fame” and the Security Industry Association's “Women in Security Power 100 List.”  Both recognitions celebrate those who have served as role models and shown leadership in the security industry. We can think of no one more deserving of these honors than Kim, who has made a difference in so many of our careers. Congratulations, Kim!

Live and On Stage

ACRE's Chuck O'Leary joined Paul DiPeso, Rich Lyman, and Security Systems News Editor Paul Ragusa to discuss myths about the cloud and answer the most prominent cloud questions of a few of our peers and stakeholders at our Q&A panel "When to Cloud and When to On-Prem."

Joey St. Jacques, Director of Global Business Development, Feenics, an ACRE brand, also had the chance to take the SIA stage to give an overview of the cloud in the physical security domain and discuss the benefits of ACaaS at the “Cloud or Server-based? Which Offers the Best TCO? An End User’s Perspective of How to Determine the Best Total Cost of Ownership” session. 

So many sessions, so little time! ISC West was just the tip of the iceberg of a year full of exciting opportunities for ACRE. To keep up with what's to come, visit us here.

Intelligent Security, the ACRE Way

Here at ACRE, we are always looking for innovative ways to connect with our team, customers, and dealers. Earlier this year, we hosted our first-ever virtual Dealer Days meeting to connect with our diverse dealer network. With close to 300 attendees on both days, we were able to share insights from ACRE leadership, discuss expanded programs with technology partners, learn from ACRE’s product management about the latest technology highlights, and an exclusive sneak peek into new products coming soon, while also networking (virtually) with one another.

We broke down the 2-day event into focused sessions: day one was for dealers who support the Access It! product line and day two was for those that support DNA Fusion. We also introduced new solutions into the portfolio, including Feenics, a cloud-based enterprise-class access control system. Our main message to the market is our continued focus on the customer. Our world-class support and customer service teams are readily available to help end-users and partners understand their ACRE solutions and ensure they are getting the most ROI out of their investment. 

The future of ACRE is now. We build a brand of intelligent security solutions that simplify how we operate and protect our customers. We are dedicated to expanding our product portfolios with more advanced software solutions and deeper API strategies to grow our integrations and partnerships. We continue to be laser-focused on commercial applications and offer various products and services to accommodate. Although we are generally the best fit for medium- to enterprise-level accounts, we have solutions for all types of client deployments. In addition, we will be evaluating additional strategic mergers and acquisitions of technology, vertical markets, and other key solutions.

On the product side, we shared some recent innovations and ongoing plans for the following platforms:

  • Introducing ACT Mobile - ACRE’s latest move to mobile is coming soon! We are building a white-label app platform that connects your digital universe with one single user experience. From security to deliveries to where to eat, ACT Mobile Platform will bring it all together, allowing our partners to easily design and deploy custom apps within their organizations that meet industry standards and individual security requirements. Some of the critical features with ACT Mobile include push notifications, standard command and control features for your access system, private/public distribution channels, auto-updates for software and bug fixes, streamlined area approval workflows with multi-level approval, advanced video integrations, and the ability to work across all ACRE brands with a unified app experience.
  • Razberi Technologies - ACRE continues to offer these powerful servers bundled with our ACRE software platforms to enhance ROI. We also focus on cybersecurity and investing in different ways to layer built-in and automated protection to the devices.
  • Access It! - The most recent version of Access It! included powerful features and functionality, including its auto-update, incremental site search, single-sign-on for more security, bi-directional integrations, passwordless authentication, 64-bit encryption, and expanded APIs. Learn more about Access It! version 9.0
  • DNA Fusion - With the latest version of DNA Fusion, users can now get Windows 11 support, integrate with new technologies, enhance searching within SQL search builder, and quickly schedule tasks and pull reports.

Everything that we do here at ACRE falls under these three pillars: Customer-First Mindset, Support, and Collaboration. We look forward to another great year with our partners and welcome any new opportunities to work with additional innovators in the industry. Please reach out to your ACRE representative HERE to learn more about all the products and services available to you.

The Lastest is Here! DNA Fusion 8.1.1 is Now Available

Introducing DNA Fusion 8.1.1! We are excited to announce that the newest version of DNA Fusion is available now. Let’s take a look at how the latest release can benefit you! 

DNA Fusion 8.1.1 Benefits

The new update improves several features while also adding new abilities to the DNA Fusion solution. Customers will find that the update improves auto-reactive door functionality. For example, when a user presents a deactivated card to an activation door reader, the user is granted access instead of needing to badge a second time to gain entry. 

The update adds the ability to promote 1501 panels to 1502 or 4502 panels; it supports the added integration for the Inovonics Mobile Duress Integration and support for the true 64-bit card numbers. It has improved support for date/time formats when running with Non-US date/time settings, and the Mercury Driver has been updated to 4.7.1.31. 

8.1.1 also moves scheduled commands like downloads, batch files, and reports to the driver, so the front end no longer has to be open for scheduled items to run. It includes Windows 11 support, improvements to the SQL search builder, and searches across tenants. 

This is a significant update, and we hope you are excited about some of these new features. Thank you for your continued support; please enjoy the latest software release!

DNA Fusion 8.1.1 is available now. To learn more about these solutions, visit our website. 

ACRE Dealer Days Announcement

New year, new opportunities, and we are excited to announce the ACRE Dealer Days 2022  virtual meetings! Dealer Days is an exclusive virtual conference where ACRE brands will gather to network, have interactive sessions, exciting giveaways, and more. We will be discussing ACRE solutions like Access It!, DNA Fusion, and the dealers that support and sell these innovative solutions. 

We have made it easy for you to attend one of two days for your specific product interest. Whether you are focused on selling and supporting Access It! (Tuesday, February 15th) or DNA Fusion (Wednesday, February 16th), we've got a great day-long program planned to get you the latest on product advancements, sales tools, and what's to come to help you grow your business and create a safer, more streamlined future. 

We are thrilled to have you come to learn, network, share strategies and unlock all the features and innovations around these platforms. 

Schedule of events: Pick the date and time that works best for you!

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022, | 10:00 am-6:30 pm (CT) - Dealers Focused on Access It!
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022, | 10:00 am-6:30 pm (CT) - Dealers Focused on DNA Fusion

Register Here

Glancing Back: ACRE’s Year in Review

No matter where you were in 2021, we all shared some very similar experiences to what we experienced in 2020 — ones that redefined the way we worked, lived, and supported each other. This year, for ACRE, we continued to highlight our resilience as an organization, our ability to adapt, and how we came together as the team we now refer to as One ACRE.

Going into 2021, we had clear objectives for our organization. Following the previous years, our overarching goal was to drive organic and acquisitive growth while delivering trusted, reliable, and enterprise-ready solutions for our customers and partners. We aimed to drive innovation across our brands, grow and foster our teams, and improve operational efficiency. Here is a look at how we achieved our goals:

Growth

In March, ACRE was acquired by the European investment firm Triton. Triton has delivered the industry expertise and additional capital to support ACRE’s continued innovation and proven buy and build strategy. Over the past nine months, they have actively supported us by investing in the growth and development of the company. Their industry expertise and international network have further strengthened ACRE’s position as a leading global provider of intelligent electronic security solutions. We are beyond happy to be part of the Triton organization.

And only one month following Triton’s purchase of our company, we delivered on our promise of continued growth via acquisition. We purchased Time Data Security (“TDS”) based in Dublin, Ireland, to strengthen our product portfolio and increase our geographic reach. TDS, which delivers cloud-based visitor management, life safety, and access control applications, has benefitted by leveraging our existing reseller channels and end-users to help grow this business globally. 

And we didn’t stop there. We closed the book in 2021 with the acquisitions of Feenics and Matrix. Feenics brings cloud-based access control solutions to our rapidly growing network of global customers while also expanding its portfolio to support the growing demand for cloud-based security solutions. Matrix enables us to expand the addressable market for the company’s technology portfolio, offering customers a broader breadth of reliable, integrated access control and video surveillance technologies designed to meet evolving business and security requirements.

This year, one of our primary goals was to bring the industry’s best technology innovators into our network of brands. We have accomplished that; however, we are not pumping the breaks there. We will continue onward.

Impact

We delivered beyond our expectations for 2021. To list a few highlights, razberi Monitor won a 2021 Detektor International Award. ACRE Chief Product Officer Kim Loy was honored as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology and was named a top Women at the Frontline of the Industry

This year, we leveraged the power of our team to offer new services and products that redefine security. Vanderbilt International launched its new ACT Kit Builder to help partners build the correct access control solution based on specific project needs. Open Options released a new DNA Fusion recertification option that enables customers to take it at their own pace. And RS2 introduced razberi bundles to deliver integrated, easy-to-deploy solutions for security environments. 

Collaboration

We created a variety of conversations — from training to specific product features. Our marketing teams worked diligently to provide partners and customers with the information and support needed. As a team, we made the most out of another challenging year, turned it into an opportunity, and continued to accelerate forward. 

As technology leaders, our day-to-day work is more collaborative than ever before. We constantly brainstorm, connect, and work with our cross-functional teams to find the best solutions and drive results. We’ve identified areas we can further improve on as we build out our team, and we are looking for new ways to communicate effectively as more and more of our workforce is remote.  

Looking Ahead

We don’t know what the future holds, but we know that there are great things in store (and indeed some more acquisitive growth!). We’re incredibly thankful for our customers and partners, and team. Here’s to another year of collaboration, creation, and more growth in 2022!

Throwback Thursday: The Challenges of Securing a City

The Open Options and City of Belluve Success Story

Bellevue is the fifth-largest city in Washington, with a population of about 120,000, and is the high-tech and retail center of the Eastside. The city spans more than 31 square miles between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish and is short of the Cascade Mountains. The population is consistently growing and regularly becoming more diverse. 

The Challenge

The City of Bellevue quickly grew during 2005 and soon saw the need to expand its government facilities and overall security. Being a high-tech city, Bellevue had several requirements for sharing data across other business applications and integrating existing video and intercom systems for a well-rounded approach to security. They were using a Kalatel CCTV switch to monitor video and a Commend intercom system for communications. The goal was to interface these systems into the access control interface seamlessly. Other challenges facing the city were controlling several banks of elevators, parking control, and securing the prisoner transfer area of the police department and jail. 

The Solution

Open Options teamed up with Guardian security of Seattle, WA, to propose a comprehensive security solution that addressed all of Bellevue’s needs. The city implemented Open Options’ Universal ASCII Driver (UAD) to pull together both video and intercom communications. The initial access control project consisted of over 100 reader doors secured with Open Options open platform hardware. Open Options and Guardian worked with Bellevue’s IT department to ensure shared NT security across the network. They use OpenDX to share personnel data across the Active Directory and DNA Fusion database to eliminate redundant data entry. The entire project comprises all city departments, including PD and jail, across three buildings and continues to grow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of the Open Options and ACRE Family, we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Before we all take a break this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, family, and loved ones, we want to send a quick message to let you know how much we appreciate your support and partnership. As you know, the ACRE family of brands continues to deliver global security systems for access control and intrusion detection as well as innovative video solutions with a communication networking and intelligent appliance portfolio. Our comprehensive solutions provided by ACRE’s family of companies (Open Options, Vanderbilt, RS2 Technologies, ComNet, and Razberi) help secure the highest valued assets of large and small customers operating in the private and public sectors. 

We are so thankful that we get to work with and support security professionals like yourself. During the week, the ACRE global and regional offices will remain open from Monday, November 22nd to Wednesday, November 24th providing world-class support from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT. Our offices will be closed in observance of Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 25th, and Friday, November 26th. 

Just as a friendly reminder, calls placed after hours, on weekends, or holidays are handled by our automated answering service. Follow the instructions to leave a message and callback number, and a representative will return your call as soon as possible. Please keep in mind any email directed to technical support may not be answered until offices reopen. *Additional charges may apply for phone support after hours and on holiday.

Thank you, and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!  

Security for Higher Education: Access Control on the College Campus

An Open Options and Young Harris College Success Story

Young Harris College is a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through the highest quality liberal arts education.

The college currently has more than 1,100 students across multiple divisions — Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences — and employs nearly 250 faculty and staff. YHC was named to the 2017-2018 list of Colleges of Distinction and listed as a "Best National Liberal Arts College" by U.S. News & World Report.

The Challenge

Young Harris College has recently completed major campus improvements to accommodate its growth. These LEED-certified improvements include the 121,000-square-foot Rollins Campus Center, new residence facilities, and a 57,000-square-foot recreation and fitness center. Hollis Townsend, Director of Technology Support & Operations for YHC, saw this expansion as the perfect opportunity to implement a state-of-the-art access control solution in the new buildings and upgrade the existing access control system in other areas of the campus.

YHC's previous access control provider posed numerous issues that threatened the overall safety and security of the campus, including licensing, annual maintenance contracts, and technical support, to name a few. "Integrations we needed were stalled because we weren't able to upgrade the software every release due to costs, and calling in a problem was never a quick process," said Townsend.

When searching for a new access control provider, Townsend cited the security of students and protection of facilities as two of the biggest challenges the new system needed to manage. "We also wanted a system that worked seamlessly with our existing Schlage locks, so Allegion provided us with about six manufacturers for consideration," said Townsend. "After review, we had three of those companies come to campus for presentations."

Guess which provider received an A+ on their presentation? 

The Solution

 In addition to their partnership with Allegion and compatibility with Schlage locks, Open Options was awarded the project because, according to Townsend, "their product had the most integration options available, and they showed they were in a position to continuously offer more."

A huge factor in the selection of Open Options as the college's access control provider was the company's extensive portfolio of technology partners and integrated solutions. In addition to integrating Schlage AD and NDE locks with DNA Fusion, YHC also deploys Milestone Systems' XProtect software for their video management needs.

The integration between DNA Fusion and XProtect enables complete control of live and recorded video from XProtect through the DNA Fusion client. DNA Fusion software manages the entire access control system, including door controllers and door hardware, users, cards, and access levels. The highly customizable DNA Fusion client is used to configure, maintain and monitor the access control system, including viewing live and recorded video integrated from XProtect software.

In addition to a well-rounded security solution, YHC has numerous efforts in place to streamline and control access, which increases students' safety on campus. Students are assigned credentials that are used to gain entry to facilities campus-wide, including residence halls, common student areas, and more. YHC also requires students to present their access badge at elevators, where the students can choose from set floors depending on their access level.

Though Townsend and his team are happy with the college's current security solution, he wants to stress this isn't the end of the road for system expansion. "Future plans include implementing emergency procedures and tying them into our existing systems to keep our students safe," said Townsend. "Open Options is the standard for our access control, and we look forward to working with them, our other product vendors, and our integrator, GC&E Systems Group, to continue upgrading our security."

Hiking, Biking, and Access Control

An Open Options and Specialized Bicycle Components Success Story

Located just south of San Jose, California, in Morgan Hill, Specialized Bicycle Components has grown into one of the most successful bicycle manufacturers in the world. For more than 40 years, their business has operated from the ground up on a campus that includes three facilities totaling 250,000 square feet. Visitors and more than 400 employees regularly traverse the dynamic complex, which hosts a variety of unique and wonderfully eccentric facilities.

Specialized Bicycle is an American brand of bicycles and related products that has always maintained a sharp focus on providing a better biking experience for all riders. Specialized's success lies in their ability to expertly design and develop road, mountain, fitness, utility, and BMX bicycles as well as equipment and gear while working hard to protect trade secrets in this highly competitive market.

The Challenge

Upon entering the impressive lobby of Specialized headquarters, visitors can instantly access the history of this exceptional company in the Specialized museum that showcases the 40-plus year history of the brand and includes race-winning bicycles, original production pieces, and even extreme sports legend Shaun Palmer's downhill race bike. Visitors find themselves on a quiet street facing a real-life example of a storefront that was expertly recreated to illustrate how these top-of-the-line products should be showcased. With state-of-the-art facilities comes an imperative need for reliable and cutting-edge security. 

There are many challenges associated with securing Specialized, including theft protection and loss prevention, general security for employees, and protecting the company's highly confidential trade secrets, which are safeguarded at headquarters. Although they had an access control solution in place for nearly a decade, Head of Security, Alfredo Echauri, put the brakes on the previous provider and sought out a better solution. "The access control provider in place at the time required an expert level of access control user knowledge, which made it extremely difficult to use and therefore ineffective," says Echauri. 

So, Specialized Bicycle Components explored replacement options while keeping expense in mind, as they did not want to lose their initial hardware investment by converting to a new system. 

That's when they discovered Open Options.

The Solution 

Open Options provided Specialized with a complete security solution along with the added benefits of ease of use and the customer-centric nature of DNA Fusion that was exactly what Specialized was seeking. Because Specialized had Mercury Security hardware control panels installed, the conversion from their existing access control solution to DNA Fusion was seamless. The panels, readers, locks, and all other hardware infrastructure were able to stay in place while their existing database was converted to use the DNA Fusion access control software. 

The Specialized deployment consisted of access control coverage for more than 50 doors throughout the complex. The supporting hardware for the installation was the existing and new Mercury Security authentic hardware supplied by Open Options, including LP1502 intelligent door controllers, MR52 reader sub-controllers, and RP 405 HID readers.

Echauri says he was surprised at how smooth of a ride it has been from the existing system to Open Options, and is glad Specialized had invested in open architecture hardware from Mercury to help facilitate the transition.

"You don't expect to have to change access control software providers mid-ride, but we are so grateful at the options we had because we wisely chose an open platform hardware solution. As world-renowned winners in bicycle racing, we know that it takes a winning team to deliver an excellent product, and we are extremely pleased with our technology partners," says Echauri.