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The Demise Of Alias Training & Security Services

Late Sunday night, several well known tactical trainers announced they were cutting ties with Alias Training & Security Services.  Mike Pannone posted an announcement on Facebook which included other Alias instructors Pat McNamara, Jeff Gonzales and Craig Douglas, stating all were moving on.  Additionally, Larry Vickers announced a move to the newly formed Aztec Training Services.

While full details are still unclear, the moves appear to be financially motivated. Jeff Gonzales sent out a newsletter under under his company Trident Concepts which spelled some of the issues out.

Mike Pannone added some details:

Alias confimed that they were closing their doors in this statement:

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that as of Monday July 11, 2016 Alias Training & Security Services, LLC will be closing its doors. An ongoing dispute with our merchant services financial company has made things untenable. Our apologies to all affected students, instructors, etc. To all students of upcoming classes please expect an email early this week to explain the situation in more detail.

Again our most sincere apologies,

Alias Staff

Current Alias students should look for an email and watch the Alias Facebook pagefor updates. However, Larry Vickers has stated that he will honor any downpayments to Alias for his classes. Contact LAV for details.

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48 Responses to “The Demise Of Alias Training & Security Services”

  1. Haji says:

    Just in case anybody gets confused by the acronyms, Alias Training and Security has NO CONNECTION whatsoever with ATS Tactical Gear.

  2. PNWTO says:

    Not to pile on, but this outcome was easy to see with how Alias booked courses… by overbooking… I’m sure the instructors will find port and best wishes to Paul as he moves forward, with lessons learned.

    • Mike says:

      Paul Hotaling knew exactly what he was doing. Wishing him well is a foolish thing at best.

    • Joe says:

      Yep. Paul was blessed with that instructor cadre

      • MidGasFan says:

        Paul did not treat his instructors well, in my not-so-humble opinion. The instructors were responsible for arranging their own airfare, hotel, transport, weapons, laws, food, all of it.

        We hosted a top shelf guy in mid 2014. We ended up having a great class and I was very fortunate to sirens a fair amount of time with him before and after class. He is a super nice and affable guy who want real shy about sharing his opinion. His targets didn’t show up(even though we called and emailed Alias at LEAST a dozen times) and neither did his ammo. We took care of him and booked his hotel, rental car, got the targets he requested and secured ammo. He said no one had ever done that for him!

        As far as I’m concerned, Alias should have done all this, especially with how little of a cut the instructors receive. I was absolutely horrified when I heard how much they are paid!

        On top of that, they would book classes on one side of the country, then another class on the other side, then one back on the other side instead of working with hosts to schedule with private ranges and with departments to best manage time and resources.

        Like most of the commenters here, I am not surprised this happened, only surprised it took this long. Good luck to all the instructors and I look forward to training with you in the future!

        • Joe says:

          Holy cow, worse than I thought. Hard to argue about the instructors’ passion and comittement after hearing all this

        • Barracks Lawyer says:

          How little of a cut instructors got? I’d love to hear this story. How much money do you think instructors made?

          I’m hearing this sob story about how horrible the instructors had it, like they were employees. None of them were even under contract with alias. They could have walked at any time and only did once they weren’t getting paid.

  3. TM says:

    I’ve hosted several Alias classes, and Paul was always impossible to deal with. He never responded to emails, phone calls, texts, or smoke signals. None of the Alias instructor ever knew how many students were even supposed to be in their classes. If you wanted to attend a class, all you had to do was show up without paying a dime and no one would have been the wiser.

    • Barracks Lawyer says:

      I believe that. None of the instructors ever knew what was going on either. I doubt any of them actually know what they’ve made or are owed.

  4. Dellis says:

    Website is still active…ready to sign up people for more classes!

    Wouldn’t they shut down the site or at least post a page up stating some info that they are closed?

  5. Bill says:

    Kudos to Larry for honoring the down payments for his classes. He didn’t have to do it and I doubt anyone would fault him if he chose not to.

    A class act.

    • Thanx Bill – honestly for me it was an easy call; the students did nothing wrong in this situation and I chose to let Alias handle the class. That means I’m going to step up to the plate and do right by my students. In addition remember I have trained an estimated 5000 students in 10 years; every class has many repeat customers. They are very loyal to me and not only attend my training but also buy my products and support my online video efforts. I have many students that have attended 10 or more of my classes. I consider many of them personal friends – the last thing I was going to do was hang them out to dry. And for the record I won’t see a dime of the students deposits for the rest of the year and I am owed $30,000 by Aluas for past classes- more than any other instructor. I estimate the most I’ll get for any class for the remainder of the year is about 1/3rd pay – that ok as December will be here before you know it, 2017 will be a great year with a new company ( AZTEC training services) and I will drive on. Thanks again for all your support and I’ll see you guys at the range !! Any questions ping me a larry@vickerstactical.com

  6. RayForest says:

    Maybe I am crazy but it would seem like managing this road show would be fairly easy. I am surprised there wasn’t more competition for managing that group of instructors. I love logistics. There isn’t a ton of money in it if spread commensurate with effort but it would be a great retirement job. I am surprised that hotel, food, and travel are taken care of by the manager. It would be simpler to just pay the instructor a bigger cut and have them arrange it. It would give them better flexibility in how they spend and save ie drive VS fly or rental VS POV. Run the web page, Book the gigs, Take the payments, ship the palletized range materials, cut checks to instructors, fight all the fires in between.

    • straps says:

      When you can utter “managing a road show” and “easy” in the same sentence after proving you’ve prospered at it (mentally, physically, financially) for a few years, write the book and I’ll line up for an autographed copy. Right behind Jim Mattis and Stan McChrystal…

    • Jon C says:

      No, it’s a nightmare. I’d rather open a bad restaurant in a bad location.

      • Derek McDonald says:

        I recently took on helping a trainer so I could get him out to my area. All three of our local ranges were booked through the end of the year. Besides the phone time it took to find a range that had a bay available within a year, it then took five unanswered emails, numerous phone calls, and three trips (with 45 minute drives each way) before I could get the range employee responsible for scheduling, and his calendar, in the same spot to lock down the class dates.

        If that’s how it goes down at every range, traveling trainers would often need the help of a local willing to line up logistics, which is what Alias had in my area.

        That said, I’ve taken two classes through Alias and their communication was terrible. The only value-add I saw was being able to find multiple trainers on one website.

  7. RayForest says:

    Maybe I am crazy but it would seem like managing this road show would be fairly easy. I am surprised there wasn’t more competition for managing that group of instructors. I love logistics. There isn’t a ton of money in it if spread commensurate with effort but it would be a great retirement job. I am surprised that hotel, food, and travel are taken care of by the manager. It would be simpler to just pay the instructor a bigger cut and have them arrange it. It would give them better flexibility in how they spend and save ie drive VS fly or rental VS POV. Run the web page, Book the gigs, Take the payments, ship the palletized range materials, cut checks to instructors, fight all the fires in between. Good luck to Larry with Aztec. I’m sure when you have a personal stake in it, he will make sure it works better.

    • Thanx Ray !! Agreed – the concept is very straightforward; you have to make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s

      • thedude says:

        I do this everyday, managing DTS travel and other stuff for people in our organization. Having been a logistics officer and now a GS employee this stuff is super easy. Coordination is all about Communication. It amazes me how people can screw that up.

  8. jack says:

    #RIPGreyGroup………

  9. BDK says:

    I think it’s an interesting point – it’s relatively simple by what most industries do. I would think it would be best to have the instructors manage their own travel, or, depending on how many there are, have an experienced office manager type handle it. Some large companies have internal branches of travel agencies, but I can’t see that being required.

    Similarly, setting up a good relationship with a logistics company/possibly a centralized warehouse would pretty well taken care of it.

    Seems like there would have to be a retired logistics person who’d mess with this – the main issue, I think, would be streamlining the supply chain, if things got really hectic. (EG, everyone uses the same 9MM Ammo/at least standardizing to a few calibers would be a first step. Trying to standardize on targets would also be great.)

  10. Josh says:

    As a student who is out the money for two future classes, I think we should come together and file a class action lawsuit against Paul Hotaling and Alais. We need to work on freezing any and all assets befor this dishonorable fraudster disappears. His email about his company’s money being tied up with “gun sales” was an insulting lie at best. Maybe defrauding members of the US Military, Law Enforcement members at all levels, and practitioners of various skill sets is not the smartest move a criminal can make…

    • Barracks Lawyer says:

      Class action lawsuit? Defrauding? Criminal? Whoa there cowboy, I get that you are upset you are out a few hundred bucks but has anyone actually told you from Alias that you won’t be refunded? Until that happens, it’s kind of hard to sue someone. But, by all means, talk to your lawyer about a class action lawsuit. You’ll probably get a coupon for a free energy drink or something out of it.

      Maybe you should talk to the instructor about honoring the fees you’ve paid so far. It’s his reputation on the line as much as Alias, especially if he knew for awhile that there were money issues.

      Also, can you prove that Alias intentionally took your money with no plan to provide you a service? Unless you can do that, you should reel that fraud and criminal stuff on in.

      I can’t wait to see if this shows up in the public record so we can see who knew what and when and how much money everyone actually made off this enterprise and how much is owed to students. I bet it’s only in the tens of thousands of dollars.

      • Josh says:

        Barracks Lawyer,
        Being that Alias has been failing to pay instructors and ranges for months (maybe as far back as ten months ago) it appears there is a pattern. My instructor has not been paid for months and has been getting the run around for thousands of dollars and Alais is in the rears for over approximately $100,000.00, I think they might have known. Couple that with their lack of providing any documentation to my instructor or the range conformation all along taking my funds for a class that has not been physically scheduled to exist and I think we might be starting to build a pattern…but hey take the side of the company that has put a significant negative mark upon the shooting company. So much for accountability.

        Go ahead and try and contact anyone from Alais and see the response. Every email that I had for the company is now no longer valid, Paul has not sent one reply back, the Facebook site is down, and the phone goes right to voicemail…I’m sure my check is in the mail.

        I had a couple extra thousand bucks to throw around anyways. Go ahead and add up two classes with top level instructors, thousands of rounds of ammunition, airfare, time off of work ect. and it adds up to more than just a “few hundred bucks” and a logistical pain to cancel everything…

        • SSD says:

          I want to make sure that I get this straight. Your instructor friend wasn’t getting paid for 10 months but kept holding classes and working with Alias anyway?

          And you gave Alias a couple of thousand dollars even though down payments were limited to half the fee and classes cost around $525?

          • Josh says:

            My instructor informed me that they had not been paid for months, and if you read the above threads, this was systemic over multiple instructors. How could I as a customer have been aware of their business practices. Reviews were good and I had taken classes from some of the instructors before without incident. I knew nothing about this disaster until I received a form email the other night.

            I had purchased classes for family and myself, but I guess that was my fault. I did not say I gave Alias thousands but they do have over a thousand from me. Then add everything else that goes into taking a course, and the money starts to add up quickly.

            I guess I would have never expected to be in this situation with a company that handled scheduling for some of the largest names in the industry. I did not anticipate the classes would have been canceled a month away and the company was going to close one night with a crappy mass email and then leave paying students with nothing.

            This was not about just me and I don’t want it to be, I guess I was venting and wanted to stand up for all those that have been affected. Maybe this was the wrong venue.

            • SSD says:

              By no means am I making light of the situation. It’s extremely screwed up on several levels. I just think you are embellishing things a bit.

              • SSD says:

                I thought about your comment and my reply and I want to apologize. I think I came across a bit harsh although it was not my point. I definitely sympathize with your plight. You’re understandably upset about what has transpired as well as disappointed. What’s more, absent any communication from Alias, the only info you are getting about this is stuff on social media and Internet forums. At some point, it turns into a game of telephone.

                I hope you can recoup your funds. Unfortunately, even if you do get your tuition back, you most likely will never see any refund for pre-purchased travel expenses or special equipment.

                Good luck to you and the other students who were affected by this.

            • Tim says:

              Which instructor is it? I prepaid for a class with Vickers and he is giving me credit for the class even though I paid Alias.

      • SSD says:

        I’d like to know how much is actually owed all around as well. I’ve heard several numbers but they are all in excess of $100,000. That’s all in though, instructors, student refunds and any outstanding range fees/targets.

  11. JB says:

    So the main takeaway from these comments is that Barracks Lawyer = Paul Hotaling

  12. Sean Kendall says:

    Hopefully we will hear that the State attorney general in the State where Alias did business out of takes an interest in this. Most probably not, but it would be nice to see the attempt at some justice here. Justice is tough to get in many cases where the money isn’t really huge and no one actually got hurt in any way but financially. I am out over $1300.00 in actual fees paid at this point.

    • SSD says:

      Have you contacted the Commonwealth’s Attorney?

      • LEPRPLHEART says:

        I received a mass email from Paul today basically explaining that all funds that could be refunded have been. So, add me to the list of people getting screwed because I did not receive a refund.

        Screw the cash, it was because it was a McNamara class that I’m most pissed about.

  13. Jack Harvath says:

    Not surprised. Paul was always a pain in the ass to deal with and was not in any way a professional at what he did. Hardly returned phone calls or emails, called at super weird times like Sunday evening, targets arrived at the last minute, and range fees were very hard to come by despite Paul’s insisting that he’d mailed a check.

    Sucks for the guys that were teaching for him.

  14. Eric says:

    Yup I’m out a few hundred bucks as well. Was REALLY looking forward to taking a concealed carry class from Jeff Gonzales in October, but it appears that will be impossible now and I won’t get a refund either. Awesome. It seems like Alias was a completely unorganized company run by a guy that put absolutely no effort into taking care of anybody but himself. I wish there was some way I could still take the class or get my money back.

    • SSD says:

      It sucks that you lost money, but that class is isn’t going to happen. Jeff took a job with The Range In Austin. Maybe you can see about a class there.

      Have you contacted your credit card company? Hopefully, they can reverse the charge.