Distributor Profiles 2023

April 3, 2023
Southern Lock & Supply and Wesco International look to the future.

Each year for our Know Your Distributor issue, Locksmith Ledger profiles a few distributors, asking them about their business and how they engage with security pros. This year, Wesco International and Southern Lock took the time to answer our questions. We thank them for their contributions.

Southern Lock

Southern Lock’s history is rooted in family values. What began more than 75 years ago as a small business in the home of original founders, Bernard & May Cutson, has grown to become the full-line distributor with satellite branches throughout the Southeast U.S. — all while remaining a family business. This profile was completed by Dave Swartz, co-owner and COO, Southern Lock.

Locksmith Ledger: What differentiates Southern Lock from other distributors?

Swartz: From the earliest days to the present, our goals have remained the same: to provide customers with quality products and the best service possible. We want to treat people like family and build long term relationships with them. We’ve been serving many of our current customers’ parents (and grandparents!) for more than 50 years in many cases! In short, we’re so motivated by our customers’ success and value our relationships above all else.

LL: What are your strengths?

Swartz: We operate with the mentality that the key to good business lies in world-class customer service. Whether it be unraveling complicated government contracts, integrating complex electronic access systems, or walking jobs with our customers to better understand their needs, we’re always here to help. One of our most important value propositions is helping our customers grow their business. We love educating our locksmith community in new skills or ways to expand their offerings.

Additionally, our exclusive brand of security products, NSP, with a 12-year proven track record, is consistently growing and outperforming the competition by leaps and bounds. We can proudly say that NSP products have grown to become the "Security Professional's Choice" in terms of quality, reliability, and value.

LL: What training do you provide to locksmiths?

Swartz: We offer training opportunities throughout the year at each of our locations in Charlotte, N.C., Pompano Beach, Fla. and our new training facility in Largo, Fla. We are now hosting advanced automotive training at industry tradeshows and all over the Southeast with one of the best instructors in the field, Jeremy Crocker.

Additionally, we host an annual Trade Show & Learning Expo in St. Petersburg, Fla., consisting of three days of hands-on education from industry-leading instructors. Classes cover a wide spectrum of topics: from wireless access control, restricted key systems, and fire door certifications to automotive programming, safe manipulation, and more.

LL: What other benefits do you provide to locksmiths? Swartz: Southern Lock has held a GSA contract for more than 15 years, and we do business with many different military installations and government entities all over the world. We speak fluent contract officer terminology and can help unravel the most complex orders to help our customers win business. We are also one of the few companies that boast knowledgeable outside sales consultants that travel all over the Southeast, serving our customers face to face and walking jobs with locksmiths to solve their trickiest problems.

Plus, we now have automotive tech support from highly skilled and experienced experts who are out in the field every day.

LL: What’s new about your business that a locksmith might not know?

Swartz: Over the past year, we’ve dramatically expanded our automotive offerings and become a full-line distributor of automotive locksmithing tools and products. With this addition, we’re able to encourage locksmiths to dip their toe into this side of the industry and educate them on the value that automotive locksmithing can add to their business.

LL: What product categories are the most requested by your customers? Swartz: Quality door hardware that is reliable and priced right. Electronic hardware and systems, and help designing solutions — with which we offer expert assistance available every day.

LL: Has that changed in the past year, and do you anticipate a change in the next year? Swartz: With all the supply chain issues, customers have been happier than ever that we stock such a wide variety of mechanical and electronic solutions. We don’t anticipate many changes in requests. They’ve been saying that mechanical locks and keys are going to go away for 15 years, and we don’t see any evidence of that happening!

LL: How do you compete with online sellers?

Swartz: We maintain long relationships with our core customers, and we have many years of industry knowledge and expertise available in-person or over the phone. This is a great value to our customers and helps us differentiate ourselves from online discount sellers.

That said, we knew we needed to improve the e-commerce side of our business and bring our website into the 21st Century — and we’re proud to have accomplished this without sacrificing the human expertise that our customers have come to love. We spent the back half of 2022 completely re-building our website from the ground up including overhauling the search capabilities and checkout processes to make the site much more user-friendly. The result of this being our fastest, most comprehensive website yet!

LL: How would you describe the overall state of distribution today?

Swartz: Consolidation has been very disruptive to our industry and service seems to be suffering as a result. We’re seeing fewer and fewer small businesses on the distribution side, with many of them falling under new ownership by bigger corporations.

Additionally, with new technology emerging and more individuals joining the workforce, the importance of hands-on training and education can’t be understated. We will continue to be family-owned and provide valuable expertise to our customers for many years.

LL: What do you see as the future relationship between locksmiths and your company?

Swartz: As the security industry changes for both locksmiths and distributors alike, we take comfort in the fact that we’ve built such a trusting relationship with our customers. We expect our Southern Lock family to continue to serve the locksmith community and their family businesses for years to come. To ensure this, we aim to continue expanding our offerings, attending more industry trade shows, and offering more training opportunities in the Southeast and beyond.

Wesco International

Wesco International is a distributor with more than 70 years’ experience and expertise that “enables us to work smarter and build tailored, tangible supply chain solutions that transform the way you do business, and in turn, the way people work and live.” This profile was completed by Beau Edelen, VP of Locking Solutions, Wesco.

Locksmith Ledger: What differentiates Wesco from other distributors?

Edelen: Our global size and scale provide a wide-reaching presence to serve our customers in

their region with local representatives. We support many customer types, including locksmiths, security integrators, glaziers, security dealers and datacom contractors, with premium products and services, as well as technical experts and specialized sales engineers to help navigate the technology landscape. Our customers can rely on our experts to work with them in determining the best solutions for their unique needs.

LL: What are your strengths?

Edelen: You may know us for our specialization in locking hardware, but our expansive offering goes far beyond that. Our portfolio and expertise extend to electronic access control, video surveillance, professional A/V, fire and burglary intrusion systems, LED lighting, solar solutions, network infrastructure and more. And with this breadth of knowledge, Wesco’s team can make valuable recommendations for any opening or application.

LL: What training do you provide to locksmiths?

Edelen: We have a fantastic team of outside sales professionals who work within their local markets to host customer training events and ensure that our customers are equipped to succeed. Additionally, Wesco offers robust training online through Wesco University. If your team needs training on a solution or technology, please let us know.

LL: What other benefits do you provide to locksmiths?

Edelen: Wesco offers locksmiths an array of value-added services, which is unique in our space.

We know your technicians’ time is limited, so we help keep them focused on revenue-generating activities by offering support in:

  • Financial services
  • Installation enhancement services
  • Project management services
  • Keying services
  • Kitting

Additionally, we have sales engineers around the globe who focus on helping our customers navigate the everchanging landscape of technology. We offer services such as take-offs, system design and rounding out BOMs. You can’t be an expert at everything, so use our experts!

LL: What’s new about your business that a locksmith might not know?

Edelen: Our professional experts are a valuable resource to our customers. With an average tenure of about 10 years, we can offer expertise that only comes with deep industry knowledge, and we leverage that expertise for our customers’ benefit from product selection to technical design to installation.

LL: What product categories are the most requested by your customers?

Edelen: While mechanical and electromechanical hardware are still growing steadily, many locksmiths are now looking for IP-video surveillance and low-voltage solutions. We are expecting this trend to continue at an even faster pace going forward.

LL: How would you describe the overall state of distribution today?

Edelen: In a word: thriving. Demand for security products and solutions is strong, and we have developed a sound strategy to meet the changing and growing needs of our customers. The combination of our strategy and capabilities makes Wesco the right partner for locksmiths.

LL: What do you see as the future relationship between locksmiths and your company?

Edelen: We are highly committed and invested in the industry, and that is not going to change. While our brand has changed over the years from Clark to Anixter to Wesco, our focus on locksmiths has not. We’ve retained much of our team while adding new professionals with fresh perspectives on where to grow and how to continue to serve our customers.