Subscriber Discussion

Ascendent Group - For Real?

Hi, I have been seeing messages on LinkedIn for the Ascendent Group for super high tech / long range cameras. Can anyone vouch for them or share experiences?

Ascendent sales people are very active on LinkedIn forums. However, I see a number of yellow flags.

They seem to be a tiny company, claiming to offer a broad range of products, including very advanced long range technology. Despite this, their LinkedIn profile shows only 7 employees, they have no management team page, minimal technical details, etc.

I don't know who they are but everything I see is consistent with an OEM who is reselling equipment and pumping themselves as more than that.

Anyone know anything more?

"Despite this, their LinkedIn profile shows only 7 employees, they have no management team page, minimal technical details, etc."

All that really means is that they have seven employees on LinkedIn, and nobody's bothred to create a management team page or fill in technical details. Or in short, that the company as a whole isn't leveraging LinkedIn much.

Not that I know any more about them (I see they're based up here in Cranbrook, which I wouldn't normally think of as a surveillance technology hotbed), just wanted to point that out :)

In looking at their website, every product shown looks similar to what you would find perusing Alibaba.

You know that's a good business model, buy on Alibaba, apply US (or in this case Canadian) label, sell as your own.

Btw, for those not familiar, Alibaba is an ecommerce OEM search engine that, among other things, lists over 200,000 cameras.

LinkedIn has a strong correlation with company size. Let's go canadian companies:

7 is way way out of line for a company that claims to manufacturer so many technologically complex products.

But John, LinkedIn doesn't magically KNOW these numbers - someone from or working on behalf of the company has to create the profile, create employee profiles (one presumes employees create those themselves in most cases), fill in the details, etc. Not all companies - even high-tech companies - are using social media to its full extent, if at all.

If you search the company I work for, there's no profile at all... my own profile lists my employer, but they don't have a page of their own, and AFAIK, nobody else here is on LinkedIn. If we DID have a company profile, I would likely be the one creating it, and it would show "1 Employee on LinkedIn" because, well, I would be the only one here who has a LI profile, despite the fact that we actually have four people here (the owner, his wife, and two of us techs).

Point is, they may in fact only have seven employees... but you can't trust that information coming strictly from LinkedIn. It doesn't say, "this company has X employees", it says, "X employees at this company have LI profiles".

You note yourself, Ascendent's SALESPEOPLE are active on LinkedIn... how many of their techs/designers/whatever are? We see regularly how salesdroids spam LI forums...

First of all, Ascendent did create their own LinkedIn company profile, so this is not the case of a company avoiding or ignoring it. Secondly, once you do, employees who list their company as such, automatically show / list.

For what Ascendent claims, they should easily have 50+ employees and a close number of LinkedIn profiles.

Can I trust it? I can't give it 100% confidence but it is one negative indicator.

Does anyone have anything positive to say about this company?

BTW, according to BCTechnology, Avigilon has "200 employees in BC (300 total), nowhere near the 185 "Employees on LinkedIn" in their profile. Their profile itself lists them in the "201-500" category.

If you actually scroll down to the bottom of Aemetis' profile page, you'll see they list their "company size" as "51-200 employees" - not the 34 who actually have LI profiles.

Lumenera also lists themselves as "51-200" despite having 49 on LI.

And so on...

Again, the point is, the number of employees who have LI profiles is not an accurate indicator of the number of people who actually work at the company.

Matt, I strongly disagree. If you want to say that LinkedIn profiles are 'not a perfect indicator' of the number of people who actually work at a company, sure.

However, even your own research, shows that there is a strong correlation between number of employees listed and what they have. Can it be off by 20%, 30%, sure?

But a company that shows 7 LinkedIn profiles and lists its as having 1 - 10 total employees very likely has not more than 10 or 20 employees, which would be incredibly low for someone developing and manufacturing the range of products they claim.

Maybe you should start a discussion, "Is John out of his mind for using LI information for analyzing companies?" Then we can return this to discussing Ascendent :)

If you go and look at their company profile it lists them as having 1-10 employees.

I'm just saying you're basing it on untrustworthy information. Unless you know 100% of employees at a company have LI profiles, then the "X Employees On LinkedIn" isn't going to be an accurate representation of the number actually working there. In the case of my employer, it's a 75% discrepancy (four people, only one using LI). There are far more accurate ways to get the actual number of employees at a company, such as... asking them?

Anyway, that's all I have to say on the matter.

Isn't there anyone from Ascendent on IPVM? So we could just, you know... ask them?

Matt, why are you taking such an extreme position? "Unless you know 100% of employees at a company have LI profiles, then the "X Employees On LinkedIn" isn't going to be an accurate representation of the number actually working there."

Really, so unless something is 100% accurate, it's worthless?

A four man integrator is different than a company who claims to manufacturer a wide array of high end products. If they do manufacturer these products, they should have far more employees listed on LinkedIn. It's well out of the norm for other manufacturers as both of our evidence shows.

I am dumbfounded why you are so are taking such an extreme position. I am not saying it's guaranteed. It's just one bad sign among many.

I don't know anyone at Ascendent and it doesn't seem that any of the hundreds of people who have read this thread so far have anything positive to say about them. I hope someone will come forward with some evidence that they actually do the R&D and manufacturing of these products themselves, though I wouldn't hold my breadth.

Holy crap - how is it an "extreme position" to simply point out that number of employees using LinkedIn at a company is not an accurate indicator of the number actually working there? Even your own examples bear this out - Avigilon has only 185 out of approximately 300 employees on LI. Why are you being so defensive about this?

Anyway, like I said, I'm done with this subject.

As far as Ascendent themselves, nobody who's read this thread seem to had ANYTHING to say about them, good or bad - just speculation.

From Manta:

Ascendent Technology Group Inc Business Information

Location Type Single Location
Annual Sales (Estimated) $754,560
Employees (Estimated) 5
SIC Code 3699, Electrical Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies, NEC
NAICS Code 335999, All Other Miscellaneous Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing
Products, Services and Brands Information not found
State of Incorporation Information not found
Years in Business 10

President: Brian Troxel

Carl, brace yourself from withering Matt Ion attacks on the value of Manta listings! :)

Nah, Matt's a pussycat!

I agree with John's logic on this. Sure, LinkedIn is not likely to show the precise number of employees, but it's generally a fairly representative indicator.

I think that LinkedIn is a fairly popular tool for professionals these days, and the larger a company is the more likely it is to have a majority of its employees with a LinkedIn profile. This would be, IMO, also correllated with the age of the company... a stealth company in business for 6 months might not have enough employees that have updated their profile to be representative, but a company actively soliciting business that has been around for at least a couple of years, the numbers are probably a good indicator of actual company size.

Matt, see Avigilon's IPO prospectus (page 39). As of June 30, 2011, the company reported just 129 employees. Now, they may very well increased employees by 125% in the last 18 months, given their revenue growth rate. LinkedIn profile numbers can lag in cases of rapid hiring. However, that's an exception that there is no reason to apply to Ascendent. Even if you did, shall we assume that Ascendent has 15 or 20 total employees? Still far below what they would need to pull off an R&D plus manufacturer operation for the breadth and sophistication of their line.

I disagree that no one has had ANYTHING to say about them. The fact no one who has read this thread has anything to say about them positively is a bad sign. Among all the informed insiders at IPVM, no one has had a positive experience?? The only interactions are when their salesmen promote themselves on LinkedIn. What does that say?

Matt, feel free to ignore using LinkedIn profiles as a metric in your analysis. For the rest of us, it is clearly one useful tool in assessing manufacturers.

I rarely seek out connections on LinkedIn, and I almost never feel the need to remove connections once I agree to them. However, Tim Troxel (their VP Sales) became so annoying with constant spamming that he became 1 of only two people I have ever 'disconnected' with on LinkedIn in the more than 3 years I've had my account.

Note: They also spam the shit out of yahoo answers (canada version) whenever anyone asks something about long range cameras. And the spam is the exact same canned piece (many paragraphs in length) regardless of the question.

2nd Note: Checking the wayback machine, Ascendent's webpage from October 2003 through July 2010 listed them as "worldwide DISTRIBUTORS of DVRs"

In March of 2011, the site was updated and all mention of being a 'distributor' got scrubbed.

3rd Note: They also have the site Ascendent DVR that stopped being updated in 2011.

Based on the above, I seriously doubt they make their own stuff - but who knows? :)

Marty Major, CCTV detective to the rescue!!

In fairness, going from DVR distributor to developer of long range laser based surveillance systems is a piece of cake .... ha ha ha

Btw, if there is any doubt, see Ascendent's store - do they really make IP cameras, HD SDI cameras, PTZs, electro-optic systems, explosion proof cameras and DVRs with their 7 or possibly 15 or 20 employees? 1 employee for each product line they design, manufacturer, sell and support?

Oh my! Are the Chinese ripping off this true Canadian innovator! Oh no! ha ha ha

Wow, what a find! Nice investigation!

I bow to Marty Major. That is real 'needle in a haystack' type of stuff. wow!

Not sticking up for the Ascendent Group but its not like this is the first Company to re badge soeone elses products. Take a look at Honeywell, Capture, Digimerge, Amercan Dynmaics, GE Security, ect, ect.

Duncan, thaks for bringing that up. Ascendent didn't invent this practice, not by a long shot. If anything, their use of social media to aggressively promote this distinguishes them recently.

One important difference - Not that I am a Honeywell or AD or Interlogix fan, but they are OEMing at a much larger scale and with much greater infrastructure than a 'manufacturer' with 7 employees. The risk of the big rebrands going out of business or discontinuing lines is far less than a small shop.

I would always recommend going with a 'real' manufacturer, but if for some reason the user was determined to go with a rebrander, I think Honeywell/Interlogix etc would be safer than an Ascendant.

So then, are you implying their factory is at a different location than the store front shop?

I have no idea about this company, it does seem a little strange.

Arguing about them based on # of LI profiles and/or OEM status is a bit odd.

A small company can outsource HR, Legal, marketing, IT, cleaning, manufacturing (OEM), and more. They can hire part-time staff, utilize temp agencies, and such.

Lots of companies OEM stuff...

I've got no issue with someone being a reseller of stuff - as long as they aren't maintaining that they are actual manufacturers of said stuff (which Ascendent strongly infers, though they never 'actually' say it outright).

And my bigger issue is with their repetitive use of social media platforms for broadcast spamming their marketing message.

However, there is always a risk to the end user that one day the company will simply be gone - and then they are left with no avenue for support. Manta shows an estimated annual revenue of $750K. After 10+ years. Who would buy a $50K long range camera from such a firm? When it doesn't work for whatever reason at your customers site, what are you gonna do? Daredevils and trapeze artists would think twice about that level of risk exposure.

I'm just impressed you were able to hunt those down while driving up the 95 while driving 95 and listening to Pantera on 95.5 The Drive and shooting a POV dashboard view on your cell phone.

In general, not specific to this company...

One thing with OEM is how well the original manufacturer supports thier stuff. For exmample in the PC video card business, 99% are OEM from Nvidia or AMD. Both of them support their chips very well and for a long time. If I buy a no-name brand an they go broke, then I can still use the manufacturer's drivers.

If an OEM rebrander is using the original's drivers/firmware, then there may be good support from the original.

This may be viable for some businesses, or at least screw up the pricing for purchasers with certian price and bid restrictions (e.g. lowest bidder).

On the other hand, we've standardized on three brands who are very large, experienced, and hopefully stable for our video surveillance cameras. I'd never consider off-brand or no-label cameras.

Michael, good point, support from the original manufacturer is a key element. While big brand computer component suppliers are likely to sand by their components, surveillance OEMs, as you imply, are not likely to do so.

Dahua is a good example of this, they are rebranded by numerous American companies but the possibility of getting any help from Dahua is extraodinary low. I suspect the same thing with the companies that Ascendent is OEMing from. I doubt you'd be even able to get someone on the tech side who spoke English, forget about them helping repair, replace or support these cameras.

Ascendent reponds. We sent them an email over the weekend. The responded a few moments ago:

"Ascendent Technology Group Inc. custom builds to suit a variety of applications and our assembly and final fabrication take place inCanada. Our housings and mounts are built to meet our specifications in a variety of countries spanning three continents. The lenses we use are usually Japanese, sometimes Fujinon, and often other types depending on who can offer custom optics at lead times that work for us. We have lenses custom built for us to work with our ZLID. For standard applications we use Bosch, Panasonic, or make one based on a Fairchild imager when required to meet special requirements unless another camera is specified

Ascendent’s electro-optics are custom built to suit the application and every build is different so for you to come to the conclusion that it is someone else's product is unfounded. As with all products not every component is made by Ascendent (we do not make thermal or image cores or zoom lenses). If that is a criteria then based on that definition we do not manufacture and I have yet to find a company that does. Ascendent does however have custom components manufactured for us that make up a unique product while offering higher performance than our competitors. Ascendent does optics over 5000mm resolutions, up to 36mp, with multi sensors such as swir, thermal, active IR, visible with range finders on a gyro stabilized platform custom built for specific applications. To insinuate that Ascendent does not build its own electro-optic integrated systems is not only absurd but slanderous.

We custom build units (with certified Made in Canada status) ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 using components that we cannot even export to Korea and China due to ITAR restrictions. Yet you claim they are made there which is not even possible for many of the electro-optic products Ascendent makes. Furthermore, China is about 10 years behind in electro-optics technology.
(As a side note the Korean military and integrators in Korea are asking Ascendent to build them a solution because our lens manufacture in Japan suggested they use Ascendent. Of all the manufacturers they sell to they like Ascendent’s active IR the best and their lens is designed for Ascendent’s ZLID.)
I know you are very competent at reviewing CCTV and IP products but when it comes to defense and electro-optic technologies, judging by your statements I have to assume you have very little experience in this niche market. Otherwise, IPVMP offers a great service and suggest IPVM does reviews products that is within its expertise scope.

To clarify, some of Ascendent’s lower end and cost-effective products like standalone DVRs and eyeball cameras are not made by Ascendent (though final testing on many products and assembly is completed in Canada) Some of these products are manufactured in Korea and China but built to our specs. However, when it comes to the electro-optics and PC based DVRs those are all custom built to suit applications by Ascendent. We offer OEM services on those products and have done OEM for tier one brand names in the US for CCTV equipment.

Ascendent will not tolerate claims that its electro-optics are not manufactured in Canada and that we are simply resellers of products from China and Korea; that is slanderous and unsubstantiated.

Ascendent is not an IPVM member. This would appear to be an attempt to spread misinformation to damage Ascendent’s reputation in order to black mail Ascendent to join and pay the fee for IPVM; either that or an attempt to spread misinformation in order to bolster current IPVM members who may be threatened by Ascendent’s performance and ability to custom build.

Again Ascendent will not tolerate these unsubstantiated slanderous remarks particularly regarding our electro-optics in what is a clear attack on Ascendent’s good name. To continue to make unsubstantiated claims will result in legal action with punitive damages. This would be damaging to IPVM's reputation which I believe was originally built upon providing accurate reviews on products in markets in which IPVM was actually knowledgeable."

This is the standard response from such 'manufacturers' that products are custom built by others. In Asia, these 'manufacturers' are typically referred to as 'system integrators'.

I had another round of email exchanges with Ascendent. This time, I was offered an education in what manufacturing is, with the money quote:

"Is Apple not a manufacture? or is the average person unaware that traditional manufacturing where a company built every component simply does not exist today. Manufacturing is about assebly and integration of components that offer an advantage or price benifit to the customer."

I responded with:

- What software development does your company do for its IP cameras and DVRs? That is, with your own internal software development team (a la Apple, as you mention)
- For your IP and HD SDI cameras, what specific assembly do you do in Canada?
- How many total employees do you have?

Ascendent then shut down, claiming, "No private company releases this detailed information for public viewing we only provide such information to governing bodies or investors on a strictly Ned to know bassis."

Given the refusal to answer such basic and fundamental questions, it's pretty clear to me what we are dealing with here.

Is that copy/pasted replete with typos, bad grammar and misspellings? What does Ned know?

Another important distinction as it relates to the Apple example is that Apple hardware is manufactured specifically to their specification, and for their resale exclusively.

Is Ascendant claiming that the products they sell are manufactured to their specifications? What is their response to the examples found of products that externally appear to be identical to their own?

I'd also expect such a "massive" manufacturer of specialty products to have a relatively decent patent portfolio. These would of course be publicly accessible. If Ascendant does not want to disclose about their internal headcount, etc., I would think at the very least they could point you to their list of patents.

Carl, that was copied exactly, word for word.

Brian, good point about patents. I'll take a look and ask them as well.

Here's Ascendent's comments on products that look identical to theirs:

"The housing or enclosure is by far the most simple part of a camera design and one that can most economically be done overseas without compromising quality which is why it is done by just about every major manufacture I know of (correct me if I am wrong) on simple designs. While some manufactures make slight atheistic changes in order to make it seem different these rarely contribute to performance and are done purely for marketing reasons and add unnecessary costs which is why unless a housing has a particular flaw the limits performance ascendentoften opts for using enclosures that are already made and focus on the integrating the sensor, optics, Active IR, OSD, image processors etc."

The impression that I get is that Ascendent believes a manufacturer is someone who picks an array of components and has someone else 'custom build' them. Likewise, I plan to become a PC manufacturer, providing Dell a list of components and having them 'custom build' for me.

I'm curious about those atheistic changes that other manufacturers are making....

What other major manufacturer allows their industrial design to be shared, especially to no-name products?

At the very least, having a unique visual appearance to the cameras would seem to have obvious merit.

Hi John,

do you have information about product for Infrared Laser PTZ cameras? I did not find to many vendors, coincidently I found Ascent, and RuggedCameras (USA). I wonder if you know another trusted-brands, and if they are IP-based and VMS-Compatible like Milestone, so it can be controled from the same VMS-software and not from analog-RS485/232 consoles.



I don't have any applicable info Andres; I just wanted to thank you for digging up this gem.


Have you looked at Vumii? They are the most well known in this super niche.


They have a Facebook page, I think. They seem to be at least vaguely aware of this social network thing. I think it's fair for to interpret it that way. They fail my "are they for real" test: https://<web site> gives a goofy answer (implies small scale web presence) and the "about" page has no details about the management team. You have to look at company bloodlines. (or pay to check them out and report...)