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“AAI”, Camden: red triangle


“AAI” burglar alarm, Camden • Today I start the theme “monograms”. The UK definition of a monogram is “a design composed of one or more letters, typically the initials of a name” (though in America I think it is defined as at least two letters); and the initials should be specially-drawn, generally entwined in some way. There are so many monogrammed sounders I can’t show them all in one run – it would go on for months – so I’ve decided to start with nine of my favourites, taking us up to the end of the year. Honourary pole position must go to Hertfordshire-based AAI, whose boss Andy Gilmore is a regular commenter on this blog. I always reckoned the AAI monogram had been designed to fill up as much of the sounder as possible, which he confirms: “Our logo was designed by my [business] partner’s daughter-in-law, who was studying art. When designing the logo, we wanted something which was clear and obvious even from a distance.” Apparently it was inspired by the Nu-Tron design, another of my favourites, and AAI base all their company’s branding round their logo’s triangle – never changing the shape of the bell box, even when switching manufacturer. And though AAI, like most monograms, also falls into the “unexplained acronym” camp, Andy Gilmore confides that the initials were based on Andy, Adam, Ian – the latter pair his first (brief) business partners, when he was just 14. What a great story! • Spotted: Percy Street, Camden, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras

12 replies »

  1. Normally I’d comment on the incorrectly formatted phone number but as this is Andys box and he comments on here a lot I will refrain this time!

    • Hi. Yes, I’m aware that it should be 020 8207 0900, but hey, not sure how it would fit on the soundr and its been wrong for so many years a few more won’t matter. Seasons Greetings to all :)

  2. You have made an old man very happy :). Thank you. I feel as if I have reached the pinnacle of my professional career :). When you stated that it was in Percy Street I had to check our database and can confirm that the sounder still belongs to a live account. Although this is still our current shape, this sounder dates back to August 2005 so it isn’t looking to bad for 7 years old. Due to a change of UK standards a few months ago, the guts the of sounders we fit today are a little different, but the box looks identical. On some premises, (mainly listed buildings) you may come across white triangles with the AAI being in either Red or Black. It’s an Elmdene sounder. Vicki has very elegantly explained the background to the logo and the history of the company…I could go into much more detail but fear I would bore you all. All I will say is, that April 2013 marks our 25th Year in business. I would like to take this opportunity in wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a safe, prosperous New Year.

    • Hi Andy – thanks, I’ll look out for newer / different coloured AAIs now! Also, I’d value it if you did post all (or even some) of the history you sent me. If people think it’s boring they don’t have to read it – but I think some of the regular contributors would enjoy it, and could also add their own reminiscences. Happy Christmas – Vici

      • At Vici’s request, I have written a brief history of our company. I hope I don’t bore you too much, but as Vici has said, you don’t have to read it.

        AAI Alarms Limited, trading as AAI Security Systems, started trading in 1988. I fitted my first alarm when I was 14 years old. At the time I had two friends, Adam and Ian, therefore AAI was an acronym of Andy, Adam and Ian.
        We were all 14 or 15 at the time.

        Adam, being the brightest of us all soon realised that no real money was to be made in our industry and left to concentrate on his studies. I hear that he is now a very successful solicitor. Bt the time that Ian and I left School, Ian decided to become a photographer. The daily Mirror readers amongst you, if you look, will often see his name – Ian Vogler – as the byline in many of the Daily Mirror’s pictures. After leaving school at 16 I joined Chubb Alarms and did a three-year apprenticeship with them. Even whilst working for Chubb Alarms I was doing ‘Privates’ under the name of AAI. As you can imagine, I got caught and got into loads of trouble.

        After my apprenticeship I worked for Chubb Alarms for year, by which time I had built up a large private database. I took a month off work (with Chubb) unpaid to install systems for my private clients. I was called into my Supervisor¹s office (Colin Frost) and he said that I had to either give up the private work or concentrate on Chubb or leave. He recommended that I leave. At that time I lived at home and had no expenses. He said that if it failed he would take me back, but if I didn’t leave and give it a go, I would always wonder ‘what if?’

        I left Chubb, much to the dismay of the senior management at the Chubb City Office in Clifton Street (Martin Flood and Pierre Howard) and met up with a guy who had just sold his alarm contracts to Britannia Security – now ADT. With his knowledge and contacts we got going, now under the current limited company name of AAI Alarms Limited, with him advising me. The company grew very quickly and I needed a partner who was hands-on. I was introduced to my current business partner, Keith Avey, through an insurance broker. Keith came and worked for me as a surveyor for a year with the option of buying my original partner out – and that is what happened.

        We initially traded from a small shop in Edgware, Middlesex, and progressed to our current offices in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

        Over the years we have made two acquisitions: one being Knight Electronic Security Systems of Luton, and the other being Anglian Alarms of Tingrith, Bedfordshire.

        Soon after Keith joined AAI, we changed our bell box from the vertical Novaguard type to a triangular shape, initially manufactured by Nintek Engineering. At the time, we simply had ‘AAI Alarms’ in yellow writing across the bell box – it looked pretty poor.

        At fear of repeating the posts, Keith’s daughter-in-law, Claire, who was studying art, designed our logo. When designing the logo, we wanted something, which was clear and obvious even from a distance. We used the Nu-tron logo as our lead.

        With the Nu-tron logo, even from a distance you could make out the ‘N’.

        Therefore, our current logo was designed around the shape of our bell boxes.

        Since then, whilst we have changed manufacturer, we have never changed the shape. Everything in our company is based around the triangle shape, with our business cards even having the corner cut off.

        Several different styles of our bell box exist, these mainly being takeovers where we have changed the cover: in particular, the horizontal bell box, which is called ‘old style bell box’. This was the shape used by Anglian Alarms. The phone number on the box is our Bedford office number. Not many of these to be seen in or around London, they are mainly in Bedfordshire.

        We have over 8000 contracts made up of over 6000 Intruder contracts, with CCTV, Access Control and Fire Alarms. We have recently entered the Portable Fire Extinguisher supply and maintenance business.

        I believe that I still hold the record of being the youngest Managing Director of a NACOSS Approved Company back in 1991 when we achieved approval.

        Major clients of ours are Swinton Insurance. We do approx. 250 of their shops from Leicester down…. you must have seen a few. Austin Reed (including flagship branch at 100 Regent Street), Versace (Sloane Street), Channel 4 Television, Pickford’s Removals and Trail Finders to name a few.

        We have a HUGE domestic client base. Being based in North West London, an affluent area, our clients are generally high net worth – using us after having used the well-known national firms and now wanting a more bespoke service and approach. !

        If you look hard enough, you will find loads of our systems in and around the West End. However, for some reason we have never done that many retail premises, more houses, offices, factories etc.

        • Thanks Andy, glad to see even more detail added. You mention so many names that I am sure it must be of interest to at least a few of the burglar alarm community…

        • Very interesting Andy, Martin Flood took over my Wimbledon branch when I left Landers in 1985 to start up Westec Security. Out of interest how old were you in 1991.

            • Wow that was young, although I was managing companies from when the NSCIA was formed, I didn’t start my own company till 1976 when I was 30. I would imagine Eddy Enright & Mike Sacre of Solar Security were young when they formed the company but in the 60s there was no NSCIA. You must be around 42 now, at that age I was three years into my second company.

  3. Nice one Vici, this will make Andy’s Christmas!

    And on the subject of Christmas, a very merry Christmas to all bell cover watcher’s and a also a smashing new year.


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