Navigating The Alarm Market

In every lockshop, the time comes to clean up and do inventory. Ours was no exception. We had a lot of laughs as we weeded out the products that were no longer useful and wondered whatever happened to this company or that company. We are always sharing war stories. But the purging process was important, and it was a lesson for all of us to learn.

Our shop is a busy one. We install IP-based access control systems and video. We’re always looking for the newest and best products for our customers, but new products must be carefully evaluated.

Between our individual experiences in the trenches, and my tenure as a technical writer, we can usually spot a clunker among the herd of great new products we’re constantly being encouraged to buy. Both of us have seen the turnarounds of brand names and imported product quality.

When a large company buys lots of smaller ones, some of the technology they acquire is, shall we say, is not state-of-the-art. Yet the big company has to make back their investment, so they slap their name on it and promote it.

There still are brands that play by the rules.

I used to install  alarms when I had my own business, both small systems for budget-conscious customers and big, awesome ones for guys who lived large, just said ‘yes’ and paid in cash.

Then some oil company on Long Island started mass marketing to their existing customer base, offering alarm systems for almost free, and uneducated consumers cannot resist the lure of something for nothing.

Fortunately the companies doing the mass marketing had a plan and they stuck to it pretty much. They handed telemarketers a script, and told them to only sell it if it was on the list of offered products. Along with that, these companies used a lot of untrained subcontractors, and had no concept of what good security or customer service was all about.

That meant that small craftsmanship based alarm dealers like me could still compete for the high-end custom jobs, and could also pick up clients who got sick and tired of being treated poorly. But it still forced me into the commercial market and into video and access control.

I had originally learned the business as lead tech for a manufacturer of commercial security and access controls. Back then the security industry was a little different than it is now. It was not as segmented. We manufactured commercial security, analog access (transistor based), digital access, and even computer-based access.

We supplied electric locking hardware to our clients, who were primarily commercial locksmiths, and also had a few direct corporate accounts. We designed, manufactured, assembled, and tested our products in-house, although components like capacitors and integrated circuits were stamped with the names of exotic faraway places like Mexico, and Taiwan.

We knew overseas labor was cheaper than us, and we knew changes were ahead. The market was less saturated with vendors, but then again the number of end-users interested in investing in access control was fewer as well.

The mass marketers have made an indelible mark on the Alarm industry. Price are now an important driver of the residential security market, and if you don’t advertise and market, you can look forward to slow days sitting around the shop waiting for the phone to ring.

Anyway our shop stays busy, because we run lots of Yellow page ads; we do locks safes, alarms video, access; and the high level of workmanship has helped us develop a solid reputation. We also have more trucks than our competitors, and rarely turn down anyone who needs a rekey or deadbolt installed in a hurry.

If we depended entirely alarm business income, we’d starve. But then again, we’d be out there beating the bushes for customers, and being more tuned into under pricing the half dozen or so alarm companies wallowing around in our geographic area.

So while we were wandering down memory lane cleaning the shelves, it was a good reminder of those truths about brands that fell by the wayside and who is still left standing on the field of battle. Most importantly, our business is still standing and prospering.

NAPCO has been providing the independent dealer with security solutions since 1969, and has introduced a succession of innovative products and a focused corporate mission. By acquiring door hardware manufacturer Alarm Lock, and access control system manufacturer Continental Instruments and still continuing to hone its core specialty of electronic security manufacturing; NAPCO has prospered and evolved as still independent, still loyal to its dealers, and very successful.

The new NAPCO Freedom reflects the maturity of NAPCO’s technology, its ability to come up with new ideas, and its awareness of the needs of the market and the challenges facing the industry; namely providing products which fit the demographic of strongest potential sales growth, and mitigating the false alarm crisis which threatens the residential alarm industry with extinction.

NAPCO FREEDOM is of special interest to locksmiths because of its unique adaptation of the deadbolt into the system’s operation and security.

Also of interest to anyone involved in the alarm business are the ease of operation and false alarm reduction measures which are integral features of Freedom. These factors will encourage sales and discourage complaints and fines for unnecessary police dispatches.

Freedom can be configured for homes with multiple deadbolts. Freedom can be configured to monitor a garage door equipped with an opener. Many homeowners use their garage door as their primary means of entering and leaving their homes, and Freedom has technology to accommodate them.

Freedom also incorporates a motion detector into the alarm keypad. This figures into the Freedom design, philosophy, and also simplifies installations.

Freedom supports up to eight zones and uses many of the same GEM family of wireless sensors and transmitters as other NAPCO security systems.

Besides simple code-free (no keypad) arming and disarming, Freedom is supplied with digital keys (FOBS) which may be used to further control the Freedom panel.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or Napco, telephone 800-645-9445, web site