Alarm Watch | Making sure you are safe and secure 24/7

Wanganui alarm and monitoring company, Alarm Watch Limited, is an innovative business that’s moved ahead in leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings 27 years ago.

In 2015, Alarm Watch secured a major contract for a nationwide medical alarm provider, which meant work for 12 new staff. Last year also, the go-ahead company developed a new smart phone app that informs its clients about any event on their premises.

General manager, Wade Coneybeer says the feedback to the app has been really positive. “It’s unique because it allows two-way interaction between the on-shift operator responding to an alarm and the client at home or at work. It’s nice and transparent and very easy to monitor.”

The core business, which began in 1988, was initially the installation of alarm systems and advising customers on their security needs. Then 11 years later the business joined forces with another alarm company to start Alarm Watch. In 2007, the focus changed from working solely with local retail customers to supporting a nationwide network of professional alarm installers.

Now Alarm Watch provides 24-hour monitoring of security systems nationwide and looks after 24,000 homes, businesses and people.

“While the majority of our business is responding to alarm activation from commercial and residential property, a large portion of business is monitoring medical alarms. When someone has a fall and pushes their button for help that comes through to us. We also provide telephone answering around the clock for businesses that want a real person answering their business phone, when they go home,” says Wade.

Neil Campbell, who co-owns Alarm Watch with his brother John, started the business, then known as Electro Guard, with “just a ladder and a farm Ute”.

Creating a new business was the Wanganui farmer’s response to the stock market crash of 1987, it was a time he says, when “things got a bit tight, so we needed to up stakes and diversify. Fortunately the timing was perfect and the business took off immediately.”

However, it was always his intention to add value to the business by not having it reliant on him and it took a while “before we got the right employees and the right ethos”.

Neil knows his strengths; “I am good at dealing with people but I leave the handling of technology to others.”

Alarm Watch now employs 51 people. One of the biggest challenges, says Neil, is training and retaining staff.  “If you can hold onto a crop of staff for at least a year then their delivery of service becomes really valuable. We are doing well in this area but it’s still a battle.”

Because of the pressured work environment, with staff often responding to life threatening situations, it’s important to try and keep things light hearted after work, according to Wade. After-hour staff activities include indoor netball, a book club, and frequent board game nights held on the premises.

James Bowen at Moore Stephens Markhams in Wanganui, is an integral part of Alarm Watch according to Neil. “James is different to any accountant that we’ve had previously. He provides far more than just a business service – he’s very good value.”

Adds Wade, “James is a mentor for me. He’s always there for advice. I am in touch with him a few times a week; it could be about something he’s noticed, like my overspending on entertainment or me asking for general advice.”