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Lancaster security firm sold

Teri Yarnell routinely fielded offers from buyers interested in Yarnell Security Systems, her family-owned company in Lancaster County.
  • She and her brother, Ron Yarnell, said "yes" this month to Pye-Barker Fire & Safety, an Atlanta-based company that is on an acquisition tear through a historically fragmented industry.
  • "This was what we thought would be best for the people that work here. That had a lot do with it," Teri Yarnell said Friday in a phone interview, adding that she and her brother are planning to retire after assisting with the ownership transition.
  • Yarnell declined to share the terms of the transaction. Efforts to reach an exec with Pye-Barker were not successful.
Who's the seller: Yarnell Security was founded in 1967 by the late Harold Yarnell Jr. 
  • Based at 131 Elmwood Road in East Lampeter Township, the company provides monitoring and security systems for homes and businesses in Central Pennsylvania.
  • It employs 47 people, Teri Yarnell said.
  • She expected the company to keep its name for the time being.

Who's the buyer: Founded in 1946, Pye-Barker now has more than 110 locations around the U.S, and positions itself as a willing acquirer of security companies.
  • It has had a revolving series of private equity owners over the last several years.
  • The action started with Carousel Capital. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based investment firm partnered with management to recapitalize Pye-Barker in 2016.
  • At the time, the company had 17 locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
  • Three years and 35 acquisitions later, Carousel sold a majority stake in Pye-Barker to Leonard Green & Partners, a private equity firm based in Los Angeles. Carousel held onto a minority stake.
  • In June, Toronto-based investment firm Altas Partners became Pye-Barker's majority owner.

Has the action slowed: No. Pye-Barker has struck 17 deals this year, including its purchase of Yarnell.
  • The deals have involved companies in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. 
  • In August, Pye-Barker bought Montgomery County-based Keystone Fire Protection, which continues to operate under its own name.

The bottom line: The fire safety and life protection industry overall has been a "hotbed" for M&A, according to a 2020 article in Forbes magazine.
  • Investors are attracted to the stable stream of recurring revenue from security contracts.

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Court lifts pause on vaccine-or-test mandate

The Biden administration rule requiring larger companies to have their employees vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 is back in place.
  • A federal appeals court on Friday ended a hold on the rule imposed by a lower court.
  • The move by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was quickly followed by a deadline extension for complying with the rule, though legal uncertainty remains.
  • Critics of the rule have already appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a new stay, according to NPR.

What's the new deadline: Employers have until Jan. 10 to come into compliance with most portions of the rule, according to an update from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • The rule requires employers with at least 100 workers to identify which workers are vaccinated and to come up with a plan for vaccinating the rest -- or requiring regular tests for those who decline.
  • Vaccinations must occur or testing begin by Feb. 9, according to OSHA. The original deadline was Jan. 4.
  • The rule also requires unvaccinated workers to wear marks.

What about other vaccine mandates: One for federal contractors is still on hold.
  • However, a federal court partially lifted a stay on the rule affecting hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers that get reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.
  • The end of the stay covers more than two dozen states, including Pennsylvania.
  • However, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which proposed the rule, has temporarily suspended enforcement -- though that could certainly change.

The background: President Joe Biden proposed the rules requiring vaccines or testing in the workplace back in September.  

Quick takes

WHO'S MAKING PROMOTIONS: WGAL-TV. The regional NBC affiliate has named Cynthia DeLuca its president, according to the Lancaster County-based station. DeLuca has been general sales manager at WGAL since 2017 and has worked 28 years overall for its New York-based parent, Hearst Television
  • DeLuca succeeds Justin Antoniotti, who has been named president and general manager of two Hearst stations in Kansas City.
  • WGAL has seen some high-profile retirements over the past year, including the departures of longtime news anchors Ron Martin and Kim Lemon. 

WHO'S CROSSING LINES: F&M Trust. The banking subsidiary of Chambersburg-based Franklin Financial Services is hoping to open its first branch south of the Mason-Dixon line. The bank is applying for regulatory approval to open the branch in Hagerstown, Maryland, at 83 W. Washington St., according to F&M spokesperson Matt Weaver.
  • If all goes as planned, the branch would open in early 2022.
  • The Washington Street space is currently occupied by Fulton Bank, which plans to close the branch in January, according to Fulton spokesperson Steve Trapnell.
  • Fulton is closing two other Hagerstown-area branches and consolidating all three at a new branch slated to open Jan. 24 in a shopping center at 1107 E. Maryland Ave., Trapnell added.

The background: F&M Trust has 21 branches in Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon counties, as well as a regional headquarters in Dauphin County. 
  • It has assets of more than $1.7 billion.

WHO'S SKIPPING LINES: Employees at The Giant Co.'s ecommerce warehouse in Philadelphia, which opened in November. Giant sister company Retail Business Services has installed "frictionless" checkout technology in the warehouse's employee-only store. The technology allows the center's 125 employees to scan in, pick up items and then walk out.
  • An app "admits" shoppers into the store and then charges them for purchases through a digital wallet, according to a press release.
  • Similar technology is in place at Giant's perishables distribution center in Cumberland County.

The background: Amazon has pioneered similar technology but it ran into challenges in Philadelphia because its frictionless stores would not accept cash.
  • In 2019, the city passed a law requiring retailers to accept cash.
  • The law does not apply to the store at the Giant ecommerce center, since it is only for employees, according to Erin Dewaters, a spokesperson for Retail Business Services, or RBS.
  • Both Cumberland County-based Giant and RBS are subsidiaries of Ahold Delhaize USA

WHAT'S TICKING DOWN: Pennsylvania's unemployment rate. It fell to 5.7% in November, down from 6% in October but still above the 5.1% rate recorded in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic began. 
  • Employers added 6,000 jobs statewide in November, according to the Department of Labor & Industry.
  • But employers continue to recruit from a shrinking pool of people. There were 6,259,000 state residents in the workforce in November, down from 6,311,000 a year earlier.
  • The workforce was over 6.5 million before the pandemic.


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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