Securicor Wireless sells LMR unit to Midland Radio
Midland Consumer Radio, Kansas City, MO, announced on July 24 that it had acquired the U.S. land mobile radio operations of Securicor Wireless. The next day, the company changed its name to Midland Radio Corporation. The value of the transaction was not disclosed, but it is estimated to be worth about $2 million.
Midland Radio faces a challenge in rebuilding a land mobile radio dealer network and the confidence of dealers.
“We don’t do a lot with the Securicor Wireless product line,” said Ed Folta, president of Com-Rad, a dealer and repeater systems operator in Des Plaines, IL, whose market area includes Chicago. “We’ve been waiting to see what would happen. There are certain products in the Midland-Securicor world we seek that we can get only through them. But I’m not sure how good the supply line will be when they get back on their feet,” he said.
Cliff McCormack, sales manager of Middle Tennessee Two-Way in Murfreesboro, TN, said: “We have a few customers who really like their Midland equipment. But under Securicor Wireless, we had huge delays on parts and equipment. It used to take nine months to get a microphone. The problem has straightened out some, and it doesn’t seem to take the company that long to fill an order anymore.”
Folta added that Securicor Wireless had been working on its 220MHz airtime business and hadn’t placed much emphasis on marketing strategies and on promoting its FM two-way radio product line. He characterized as “weak” the exchange of information between Securicor Wireless and Hitachi Denshi, the Tokyo-based company that has manufactured most of the Midland-Securicor FM land mobile radio products.
“It’s not a surprise that Securicor Wireless spun off the land mobile radio business,” Folta said. “It will be a help to the Midland product line. Midland Radio has people who are familiar with Midland to begin with.”
Folta said that Com-Rad’s strongest Securicor Wireless products have been the VHF and mid-band mobile radios.
“We export some mid-band equipment, and we do some work with UHF, but most of our newer UHF is trunking, and Securicor Wireless doesn’t have a product available in that category. They did for a while, and then dropped it,” Folta said.
Folta had some suggestions for Midland. “I would suggest they do two things: Advertise like hell, and open some serious dialogue about a program to advance products or concepts that will be in step with what’s going on today,” he said.
Folta said that Midland once was a strong player in state and local government land mobile radio sales. Although Securicor Wireless still has business there, he said it has mostly fallen apart, beginning with Simmonds Communications’ acquisition of Midland International and continuing under Intek and Securicor.
“It got to the point where you couldn’t get cooperation or delivery,” Folta said.
John Chass, Midland Radio’s chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement: “We are excited about the future opportunities for Midland as a market leader in professional and consumer radio products.”
A statement from Robert Shiver, Securicor Wireless’ chairman, added: “Securicor Wireless can now focus on what we see as our primary strategic growth opportunity—consolidating spectrum, leveraging our technology and building voice and data recurring revenue….”
Owned by Securicor plc, its British parent, Securicor Wireless has its headquarters in New York and its U.S. operations center in the same Kansas City building as Midland Radio—although both are said to be preparing to relocate. The land mobile and consumer radio businesses originally were part of Midland International, a company founded by Kansas City investors. The original owners sold Midland International to Western Auto, which sold it to Simmonds Communications (since renamed Simmonds Capital), King City, Ontario, Canada.
Midland International sold the U.S. land mobile radio business to Intek Diversified, which changed its name to Intek Global and then to Securicor Wireless when Securicor plc acquired Intek. Intek also acquired a 220MHz airtime business that continues with Securicor Wireless. Midland International sold its U.S. consumer radio business to CTE International, an Italian company headed by Guido Rocca. When that part of the business separated, it was named Midland Consumer Radio. John Chass, the executive who ran the consumer business for Midland International, moved over to the new CTE subsidiary.
Based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, CTE International has 200 employees in facilities in Italy, the United States, Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria, Spain and Ukraine. Its three divisions offer products for consumers, land mobile radio users, and FM and TV broadcasters.
Midland International licensed Intek-Securicor to use the Midland brand in the United States and gave a similar license to Midland Consumer Radio for consumer products. That’s why, when Midland Consumer Radio introduced VHF and UHF land mobile radio portables in the United States two years ago, they bore the Alan brand used for CTE International land mobile radio products elsewhere. Simmonds still owns the now-inactive Midland International, which retains the right to the Midland name in regions outside North America and Europe
Prior to acquiring the land mobile radio business, Midland Consumer Radio already offered Citizens Band, Family Radio, General Mobile Radio and Marine Radio Service mobile and portable radios, along with NOAA weather radio receivers. It also offered amateur radio, CB and marine antennas and a line of accessories. The acquisition brings to Midland Radio Securicor Wireless’s Titan, Bantam and BaseTech brand FM VHF and UHF base stations, control stations, mobiles and portables.
It seems likely that Midland Radio will rebrand the Titan, Bantam and Basetech equipment with the Midland name, although the announcement issued by Midland Radio did not say, and no company official was available for comment.
Securicor Wireless will continue to sell its linear modulation products, including a dash-mount 220MHz mobile and a portable 220MHz transceiver; the company’s mobile data products, including Fleet Management 2000 software, a protocol converter, a Dispatch Express mobile unit and a mobile printer; and its 220MHz trunked radio system infrastructure products. Securicor Wireless has retained those product lines to sell in support of the 220MHz airtime businesses operated by some of its dealers, by some members of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and by Securicor Wireless itself.
Securicor Wireless also owns substantial 220MHz spectrum, many 220MHz repeater systems in large U.S. cities, and intellectual property rights connected with linear modulation technology. Its parent, Securicor plc, released information in May that said it intended to divest Securicor Wireless. At the time, Securicor’s semiannual report said that a letter of intent had been signed with a purchaser that put the value of the transaction at $36 million. A spokesperson for Securicor said that there was nothing further to say about the pending transaction.