In this Research Note, we examine the acquisition strategy of ACRE, a Dallas, USA-based platform company backed by private equity capital. Founded to acquire, partner or invest in specialized players in the physical security industry, ACRE has become one of the largest independent providers of access control, intrusion detection, video surveillance, and communication networks in North America and Europe.
With three acquisitions in 2021 and a change of ownership, ACRE has continued its buy and build strategy. The December announcement of two strategic acquisitions, Feenics and Matrix Systems enhanced its access control offerings. Feenics, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, is the developer of Keep by Feenics, an access control as a service (ACaaS) platform built specifically for and hosted in the public cloud. Ohio-based Matrix Systems is a provider of conventional access control and security management technologies to well-known organizations, such as Miami International Airport, The Ohio State University, Cleveland Clinic, and General Electric.
An Irish acquisition, completed in April 2021, of Dublin based TDS (Time Data Security) founded in 1990, brings a portfolio of products including cloud-based visitor management, life safety and access control applications. TDS has over 30 years’ experience supporting clients with 3000+ sites and over 25 million users worldwide. This purchase was intended to enhance ACRE’s strategic expansion plans for strengthening their product portfolio and geography in the UK and Europe and providing cloud-based workspace solutions that will complement the existing ACRE portfolio including the Vanderbilt, RS2, and Open Options brands in North America.
ACRE’s private equity investors, LLR Partners and Egis Capital Partners, who partnered with the company since 2013, exited the business in March 2021 when Triton Partners acquired the business. Triton is expected to bring industry expertise and additional capital to support ACRE’s acquisition strategy.
ACRE has completed 11 acquisitions and 1 divestment (Mercury Security was sold to HID Global in September 2017) since its founding in 2012 when Schlage Electronic Security’s Software & Controllers unit was spun off to Vanderbilt Industries from Ingersoll Rand. The software and solutions provided by ACRE's family of companies operating under the Vanderbilt, Open Options, RS2 Technologies, ComNet and Razberi brands, help secure the assets of large and small customers operating in the private and public sectors.
Razberi Technologies, a Texas-based video surveillance solutions provider, was acquired in November 2020. Razberi, founded in 2011, has developed a portfolio of open product platforms which work with third-party video cameras, video management and video analytics software. ACRE announced that it intended to leverage the technology and expertise of Razberi beyond video across its access control brands for providing server builds, cybersecurity and system health monitoring.
ACRE completed the acquisitions of two access control businesses – Open Options in December 2018 and RS2 Technologies in May 2019, both of which have built ACRE’s access control strength and reach in the North American market.
Comnet, a U.S. manufacturer of video and data transmission equipment was acquired in December 2016, providing complementary communication technologies utilized across its access control, intrusion, video and cloud-based product ranges.
In Europe, ACRE broadened its geographical reach in June 2015 when Siemens Security Products Division was acquired and rebranded as a European-based provider of security products and systems. The Security Products division brought to Vanderbilt a comprehensive technology suite including access control, intrusion alarm and video surveillance products, as well as well-known brand names, such as Aliro, Alarmcom, Bewator, Cotag, Europlex, SPC and Vectis. In 2016, the group continued its European expansion strategy with the acquisition of Access Control Technology Ltd (ACT) based in Dublin, Ireland.
Vanderbilt International, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, reported 45 employees and 2020 sales of 6.36 million euros versus 8.06 million euros in 2019. As a result of the pandemic, sales in the Vanderbilt International group of companies decreased by 7% in 2020. At the same time, however, the operating result increased, according to the German accounts.
Overall, ACRE group sales declined 5% in 2020 but they are reported to be significantly increased in 2021, mainly due to acquisitions. The group currently has more than 400 employees in over 25 countries.
Further additions to the ACRE platform in the fragmented electronic security landscape are expected, driven by their ambitious revenue targets for 2022.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.