Tyco Safety Products Chief Streamlines Division

Handling the manufacturing needs of Tyco Fire & Security, and keeping up with R&D


A red standard-issue commercial fire extinguisher with black-rubber hose sits in a window of Ron Krisanda's corner office at Tyco International Ltd. here. A gas mask is perched on a bookshelf nearby.

The gear are tools of the trade for Krisanda.

His business, Tyco Safety Products, is the research and development branch, as well as manufacturing arm of Tyco's Fire and Security Division, one of Boca Raton's largest employers.

It designs and makes many of the devices used in burglar- and fire-alarm systems sold by sister businesses, ADT Security Services and SimplexGrinnell, also based in Boca.

"We're the products business," Krisanda said recently. "We sell products inside the company and out."

Last year, the Tyco Safety Products business sold $1 billion of equipment and related components to other Tyco companies such as ADT and SimplexGrinnell and generated another $1.37 billion in sales to other firms.

In the quarter ended March 31, Safety Products accounted for 10 percent of the Fire and Security Division's revenue and generated mid-single-digit sales growth, mainly from more sales of breathing devices.

Safety Products makes smoke detectors, control panels for fire alarms, air packs and gas masks for firefighters, motion and audio detectors, fire-suppression gear, video security recorders, employee-badge readers for building access and anti-shoplifting systems.

The company's products are used at the Kennedy Space Center, the British Ministry of Defense and Bill Gates' house, among other places.

Krisanda, 43, was brought in 20 months ago in a second wave of new management at Tyco.

In the wake of Chief Executive Officer L. Dennis Kozlowski's ouster in 2002, new CEO Ed Breen hired Dave Robinson away from Motorola and installed him as head of the Fire and Security Division.

Robinson, in turn, called Krisanda, with whom he and Breen had worked, at cable-television equipment maker General Instruments from 1996 to 2000.

"He is part of the team brought in to refocus the company after the Kozlowski era," said Jack Mallon, a security industry analyst with C.E. Unterberg Towbin in New York. The former CEO is now on trial, accused of stealing millions from the company.

In Safety Products stable of products, Krisanda found several security brand names to build on -- Software House, Sensormatic, Kantech, Scott Health & Safety and American Dynamics.

But he also saw a company bloated with fiefdoms, a remnant of Kozlowski's reign.

"When Tyco acquired all these companies, they acted as little silos unto themselves," Krisanda said.

After moving Safety Products from London to Boca, Krisanda then divested poor performing or unwanted businesses and restructured what remained, lowering projected sales this year to $1.2 billion.

To reduce capacity, he pared Safety Products' distribution centers from 32 to 15.

He closed 14 factories and cut the workforce from 9,740 to 8,156.

And he transferred management responsibility from manufacturing sites to distribution centers to focus more on customer development.

"Their old strategy was to buy square pegs and force them into round holes. Now, they're generally dealing with round holes," security industry consultant Sandra Jones said.

In Boca Raton, Krisanda's unit employs 800, the largest of Tyco's businesses here.

Since joining Safety Products, he has hired 100 people in Boca, mostly engineers and business strategists.

He also closed a manufacturing plant that made anti-theft tags for retail stores, freeing up space for more engineers.

"I don't think they're on the edge of innovation but they're not sloths, either. They are spending money to enhance their products," said Alan Kruglak, owner of Genesis Security System, an installation company in Germantown, Md., that buys Tyco products.

With restructuring mostly behind them, Krisanda and his counterpart at SimplexGrinnell, Dean Seavers, face stiff competition from traditional foes, Siemens and Honeywell, and new rivals, United Technologies and General Electric, which have entered the fire and security product industry through acquisitions.

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