Notably, the pending transaction is not a sale of company shares but rather a sale of assets, in this case product lines in the access control, CCTV and intrusion categories. In effect, a company is being created to manage those assets, and Vanderbilt has been working for the last several months to create the required corporate infrastructure. Just this week came news of a new international headquarters for the business in Wiesbaden, Germany, near Frankfurt.
The new headquarters is centrally located with easy travel to the various locations of the business throughout Europe. “It’s a 10-minute walk to a train station and a 15-minute taxi ride to the airport,” says Joe Grillo, managing director of Vanderbilt, who moved from the United States to Germany last August in anticipation of the acquisition, which was announced in October.
After the sale is complete, Vanderbilt will be “much larger, with greater resources, greater opportunity, a bigger R&D budget and have more ability to build the brand name” – on both sides of the Atlantic
Although it will manage a mature and successful business, creating the company has been a little like launching a start-up, says Grillo. The new owners-to-be have had to create an infrastructure to take the place of the “shared services” previously provided by corporate owner Siemens. That includes basics like information technology (IT), human resources (HR), insurance, finance – the whole gamut.
“Tremendous progress is being made in the separation issues as we extricate processes from a large, complex corporate bureaucracy,” says Grillo.
Soon there will be 10 or so employees in Wiesbaden providing those infrastructure services to employees of the various businesses who are scattered throughout 17 different countries. Around 235 employees are being impacted by the change, including 70 at the access control business in Sweden; 50 at the CCTV business in Karlsruhe, Germany; and 35 at the intrusion alarm business in Ireland. Because the transaction is an asset sale, employees have more flexibility about whether they want to stay with the new owner, but Grillo says he expects most of them to stay.
Looking ahead, Grillo anticipates having to deal with branding challenges – specifically, how to overcome loss of the familiar Siemens brand. “Siemens is a strong brand throughout Europe, and we will be rebranding from a well-known brand name to something that’s not so well known.” (Interestingly, it’s not an unfamiliar challenge for Grillo, who earlier in his career faced a need to rebrand HID [after it was severed from Hughes Aircraft] and another business acquired from Motorola.)
“It’s the same great products and the same great people,” says Grillo. “We’ll just be better focused on the business.”
After the new company launches, what does the future hold? “We have some overlap in access control (products), and we’ll have to take a look at that. In video and intrusion, there’s more cross-selling opportunities. The most important thing is the international growth opportunities. We have very good products, multilingual, so we can expand to Latin America and Asia-Pacific. We’ll be looking at international growth as the top priority.”
Vanderbilt has been active in the United States for a couple of years, since it was launched to manage the former Schlage Security Management Systems (SMS) product line after it was acquired from Ingersoll Rand. The scale this time is much larger, however – the Siemens security business is “seven or eight times larger” than Vanderbilt in the U.S.
After the sale is complete, Vanderbilt will be “much larger, with greater resources, greater opportunity, a bigger R&D budget and have more ability to build the brand name” – on both sides of the Atlantic.
And Siemens’ Security Products will be history.