In a World of Merger Madness

Dec. 1, 2007

Chrysler gets swallowed by Cerberus; Google takes over You Tube; Blackstone buys Hilton; IHOP bids for Applebee's; Dow Jones accepts bid by Rupert Murdoch…will Macy's be next?

As the buyout and merger world turns and stocks get swapped while the media world is buzzed, we can sit back and wonder, “Who will be owned next?” If you say that locksmiths and locksmith distributors don't need to worry about big crazy deals by GE, Google, News Corp, Blackstone, I think you are mistaken.

Remember when small independent businesses bought from other privately-held independent businesses. Let's take a history tour: remember Lori Lock, S&G, Silca , Locknetics , AWI, Precision Hardware, McKinney , Supra, Folger Adam, Fort, Arrow Lock, Doromatic , OSI, and Adams Rite and ask yourself, “Who are the current owners?” It's a quiz you might not pass.

You already know some of the mega manufacturers in the lock and security industry, Ingersoll Rand, Stanley , Assa Abloy , GE, Sony, Kaba , and CompX . Maybe you have already accepted them as the fateful owners of so many small lock and door companies.

You might ask yourself, “Aren't most companies in the world small? What does small mean anyway?” McDonalds, Subway, Century 21, and other companies are franchises, listed as small, independent businesses. Even Ace and TruValue Hardware stores are considered small businesses.

What's my point? It's hard to be a truly small company in a world of ever-changing massive companies buying out other massive companies. And locksmiths don't have the luxury of being in the cutting-edge economy. They aren't small electronic oriented Internet companies who can sell out for millions because they have the newest, most innovative products and solutions.

Aren't we are the oldest, most traditional, un-Google-like companies in the world? Locksmiths are traditionally thought of as yesterday's small company, like blacksmiths and TV repairmen.

What keeps us relevant today is the market and business we're in. Security is the same hot topic talked about in newspapers, the Internet, and TV, a topic very relevant and important to most people in the United States and to the rest of the world. We hear about thieves, scammers, and crooks around the globe, stealing property and identities. Who still feels secure?

It isn't the time for locksmiths to feel insecure as small businessmen. If we focus on become better marketers, we can tell the world an unknown but glaring truth: We are Important! We are the security experts who can help people and companies protect themselves. We can make sure homes are safe; we can help protect spouses and children, employees and companies from theft. We can set up high tech cameras that will monitor homes and businesses, that can monitor a shoplifter or employee who steals. We can install the finest locks and exit devices that won't be vandalized. We can give the ultimate in key control. We can be our customers' most important suppliers, the ones who give sound advice to help people feel safe and worry-free.

Maybe in the near future, GE or AT&T or Honeywell will come knocking on your door and want to bid on your company for a lot more than it's worth today. Make yourself the relevant, professional, important business that you should be and some large company may want to buy you to learn your secrets.

Instead of worrying about what company IR or Stanley will buy next, you can focus instead on being the best, most profitable, fastest growing company possible, the ultimate security provider, a company to be extremely proud of.

Make yourself better and you might be the next merger target. Imagine this headline: “GE is meeting with (fill in your company name here), a fast-growing company that provides all types of security products and services, from access control, CCTV, to doors and safes, with a storefront and servicemen, a shop that sells products and provides important security information in various markets and channels. GE is one of many large companies that are targeting security as one of its fastest growing markets, both domestically and internationally. It believes (your company) might be a great fit and a strong asset.”

This is just a concept but not all ideas are fantasies. Ideas and optimistic goals can help drive your business to a place you can't imagine. Don't think, “How can I survive today and how will I pay all these darn invoices?” Instead, imagine how you can become profitable and successful, the next Larry Page, Sergey Brin , or Eric Schmidt. Well, who are these guys anyway? Just the founders of Google, that's all.  

Arnie Goldman is the President of IDN-Hardware Sales, Inc., a locksmith distributor and part of the IDN network of locksmith distributors. He is also chair of the Industry Advocacy committee of SHDA.