The Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) was ready to celebrate its 50-year anniversary in the beginning of May 2020, but two months earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped virtually every convention for the rest of the year.
SHDA is an association of locksmith and security hardware distributors and lock, security and door hardware manufacturers. It began gathering as National Locksmith Suppliers Association (NLSA) in 1970 to discuss business with the locksmith and door hardware industry and how each distributor could bring better products to benefit locksmiths.
In the 1990s, the NLSA changed its name to SHDA and allowed the addition of other door hardware distributors that sold to diverse markets, such as contract hardware and electronic security dealers. These additions helped to broaden the association.
Eventually, SHDA members met again. On Sept. 20, 2021, many members of SHDA (but less than usual) gathered in sunny Phoenix for the 50th Annual Industry Advancement Summit.
“When it comes to building business relationships, nothing can compare with actually being across a table or side-by-side at a reception,” says David Swartz, 2019-2021 SHDA president and Southern Lock’s chief operations officer. “The Industry Advancement Summit is designed to maximize the ability for distributors and manufacturers to forge new connections and strengthen existing ties.”
Attendees were eager for an association tradition: the one-on-one scheduling session fondly referred to as “the running of the bulls.” The session brings together security hardware manufacturers and distributors to arrange 25-minute appointments in the manufacturers’ suites during the three days of the summit.
Why should a locksmith care about SHDA? Does it matter that SHDA “promotes the value of distribution to its suppliers and customers” and that its mission is “to continually improve, through education and services, the proficiency of security distributors in order that they are the most effective and efficient conduit to the marketplace”? The answer is yes!
The members of SHDA provide, in varying degrees, the following:
- Access to thousands of products
- Credit to encourage customer growth
- Dedicated service professionals
- Inventory for immediate demands
- Knowledgeable technical support
- A one-stop source for products and services
- Access to an SHDA education portal
Almost all SHDA distributors work closely with their locksmith customers and provide products with timely service while also providing payment terms. Locksmiths depend on products shipped daily from SHDA distributors. Which products are represented by SHDA members? Alarm Lock, HES, Ilco, LCN, Master Lock, Norton, SARGENT, Schlage, Simplex and Von Duprin, just to name a few.
Nevertheless, many of the best brands in 1970 still are the most popular brands today. Unlike the technology industry, ours is slower to change, so meetings between distributor and manufacturer members still are important. We continue to discuss critical trends in the industry as well as the most cutting-edge products, while making sure we’re able to buy and stock what locksmiths want.
The world the locksmith faces is much more complex and difficult than it was 50 years ago. Look at the amazing number of door and security products that the locksmith might encounter or the massive numbers of keys and automotive locks. Locksmiths have to have information about electronic automotive equipment and keys. Security pros demand locks that have special keyways and finishes for different sizes of doors. They want to schedule jobs for panic devices or door closers that have specific templates.
In all these cases, they can call their distributors for answers. Does the locksmith have the necessary time or resources to stock everything and have all the information for every product? They can call, text or email a distributor, or order online from distributors that have inventory and access to thousands of products, ranging from mechanical locking devices, access controls and electronics, to doors and door hardware. For ease, profit and peace of mind, nothing beats an SHDA distributor for the locksmith.
The Road Ahead
Locksmiths and their distributors face some of the same challenges today as they did 40–50 years ago, including long lead times, supply-chain shortages and rapid cost increases. The inflation rate over 40 years ago was almost 20%, but it has come down steadily since, until 2021.
Today, these business problems affect every distributor and therefore locksmiths. When manufacturers can’t get products, face shortages and have to increase prices as their costs increase, it hits distributors and locksmiths hard.
With that backdrop, SHDA will hold its 2022 Industry Advancement Summit in the Dallas area April 25–29, 2022. The 2022 summit also will serve as an official recognition of SHDA’s establishment in 1970 and more than 50 years of supporting the professionalism and proficiency of security hardware distributors.
“Each year we look forward to building business relationships at the summit,” says SHDA President Robert Justen, who also is president of Minneapolis-based Doyle Security Products. “We’ve always designed the summit to maximize ways in which manufacturers and distributors can create new business opportunities and strengthen existing relationships.”
On the evening of April 25, SHDA members will kick off the summit with a dinner and casino night to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the association’s founding.
As in years past, the bulk of the five-day conference’s schedule is built around business development meetings and networking events. Returning this year is the Ben Silver Seminar, an educational session that covers key business topics. SHDA will welcome Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Head of Cybersecurity Rachel Wilson. Wilson will bring her perspective as a former National Security Agency executive on the increasingly hostile cyber-environment and how companies can defend themselves. These are critical topics for distributors, manufacturers and security pros.
Who knows what the future will bring for the locksmith industry, for its dealers and distributors? Locksmiths and security hardware distributors must work together to solve the incredible challenges in the industry. If the past 50 years tell us anything, it’s that for us to survive as an industry and as independent companies, we must work together. Distributors are nothing without their customers. Likewise, small locksmith companies can’t compete without the help of their distributors. For better or worse, we always are linked.
Arnie Goldman is president of IDN Hardware Sales, a Division of IDN Global and a Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) distributor. Learn more about SHDA at www.shda.org.