Distributor Profiles: Stone & Berg and Access Hardware Supply

April 1, 2024

For this year’s distributor profiles, Locksmith Ledger looks at the storied history of Stone & Berg and AHS, two distributors who continue to provide security hardware and products while adapting and evolving to meet the changing needs of locksmiths.


Stone & Berg

Stone & Berg Co. Inc. is a fifth-generation hardware distributor that started out more than a century ago in 1909 as a distributor of lumber and hardware. Over time, the family-run company shifted to only hardware, forming great relationships with the top manufacturers in the locksmith industry and offering a wide range of products to their customers. 

“We are a single location security hardware distributor and, yes, that is a strength,” says Michael Pagano, Vice President, Stone & Berg Co. Inc. “This allows us to pay special attention to our customers and keep focused on their needs. There comes a point where a focus on growth can supersede the focus on service being delivered to customers, and we have always made sure that our customers’ needs are our first priority.”

He continues, “Keeping Stone & Berg a single location allows our inside sales force to be located in the same building as our inventory for hands-on product information – does X cam work with Y cylinder, will X key fit in Y keyway? If you call us, our receptionist answers the phone quickly, and you can ask for your preferred salesperson, who is always ready and willing to help you with questions and research solutions – that’s how we’ve kept such strong relationships with our customers over many decades.”

Stone & Berg also has a training area on-site in Worcester, Massachusetts, able to seat up to 30 individuals. “We’ve had classes on automotive, master keying, automatic operators, restricted key systems, multi-housing solutions – you name it,” says Pagano. “Depending on your location, we can even send someone to you if you need help with specific issues in your shop. We also promise same day shipping on any stock orders placed by 5pm, an easy return policy with a quick turnaround time, and free shipping on orders over $400.”

For more than 100 years, locksmiths have always been the core foundation of Stone & Berg. “We know our customers simply by their voice on the phone, and we truly hope that never changes,” he explains. “A personal relationship used to be the only way to do business, but that practice is becoming harder and harder to find – not just in our industry, but everywhere. It is because of locksmiths that we have become who we are, and we have built many longstanding and strong relationships with them through the years.”

Staying Current

Pagano points out that the company does its best to accommodate the needs of customers and add new items to their inventory on a weekly basis. “Keying services are something we have provided to our locksmith customers for a long time. There are times when a shop does not have the time or workers to get all of their jobs done quickly and efficiently, and we can help you with that,” he says. “Many customers are surprised to discover that we offer a no-fee blind shipping option.”

Demand for both restricted and proprietary keyways, says Pagano, has been growing consistently for Stone & Berg, and the company has many options to offer their customers. “Gone are the days of creating a key system on a less used ‘odd’ keyway; our customers realize that, if explained properly, the end user would rather upgrade to a proprietary keyway to decrease unauthorized duplication. When that is not enough for their needs, we offer a large variety of patented restricted systems when key system security is a major concern.”

Another category that has seen recent growth is electronic security: electrified levers, switches, latch retraction kits, power supplies, electrified hinges, and networked or standalone locks. “More locksmiths are getting into the electrified installs, realizing the gap that they can fill, starting out with standalone systems, and working into fully networked buildings,” Pagano points out.

State of Distribution

The number of distributors nationwide has changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so, as mergers and acquisitions have consolidated the industry “to a point where there are staggeringly few small distributors left,” notes Pagano. “Yet, while consolidation has taken away many of the smaller distributors, even more online wholesalers have popped up in their place, creating an interesting shift for all distributors. Now that everyone has e-commerce websites, price-checking products is very quick to do for dealers, many of whom will have multiple websites open to scan for the best prices.

“The Stone & Berg customer service experience is where we are really able to get ahead of the faceless online resellers - we can comfortably stand behind the products that we sell,” Pagano explains. “We gladly help our customers when they call us with a defective product, special orders, requested research or even a simple quote. We focus on building strong relationships with our customers and acting as a partner in their success. If they succeed, we succeed. It is our belief that strong personal relationships and good customer service will continue to see our business grow as the industry adapts to changes in the distribution landscape.”

Similar to the hardware distribution industry, Pagano astutely points out that the locksmith industry is becoming inundated with both online and retail options for their customers to purchase products directly and cheaply. “This means that locksmiths might not be making as much as they used to on products, and may be forced to adapt their strategies,” he says. “Along with this shift, many standalone and networked electronic solutions have become available using prox, fob or mobile credentials that are more affordable for the end user – some allowing for recurring revenue for the locksmith who installs the product. Locksmiths are no longer expected only to handle mechanical installations. With so many electronic options now available to end users, demand is being created and locksmiths are in a position to step in and take up that new business, should they choose.”

Access Hardware Supply

With a tagline that highlights the company’s success — “Where service meets expertise” — it is no secret that Access Hardware has “unlocked the keys to industry success as well as securing a loyal client base,” says Matthew Dilworth​​​​, head of marketing for AHS. “Boasting over 25 years of leading experience in the door hardware industry, Access Hardware has developed the tools to keep on top of industry trends, garner deep trade knowledge and know exactly what its clients' needs are.”

Enjoying continued growth, a dedicated team, and the expert knowledge to keep clients happy, Access Hardware also celebrated a milestone in its continued expansion in October of 2023 with the grand opening of a second office in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., to service the southern California market. AHS’s original location is in San Leandro, California.

For Access Hardware, a family-run leader in the door hardware industry, tapping into and staying ahead of the industry trends, competition, and most importantly, the needs of their valued clients is the secret to successfully “opening doors to new business,” Dilworth points out. “In a notoriously competitive industry, only the best can maintain that cutting edge that is needed to stay on top. Putting its clients first and developing long lasting relationships is a top priority for Access Hardware; achieving the winning balance through listening and asking the right questions to get the job done right the first time.”

With a dynamic, highly experienced, and dedicated distribution team, Access Hardware takes its valued clients through all business aspects from selecting the right product supplied by the best manufacturers to consistently ensuring reliable and speedy product delivery. With every step, Access Hardware provides the necessary knowledge, support, and client collaboration to ensure success.

“Access Hardware has developed an enviable industry reputation as a leader in serving the mechanical and electrical local and access hardware industries,” says Dilworth. “Opening the door to products, services, and sectors that include systems integrators, glass & glazing, locksmiths, door gate & fence, government, education, and healthcare, Access Hardware industry scope, expertise and turn-key solutions remain unmatched.”

Access Hardware goes the extra mile to also educate its clients on the latest industry trends, regulatory initiatives, innovative approaches, and other relevant data to ensure a competitive edge. By maintaining strong links to professional associations and affiliations, Access Hardware clients have a distinct advantage in choosing its team.

“One such client, Crown Fencing has looked to Access Hardware’s leading solutions to help them achieve their goals,” notes Dilworth. “Access Hardware has developed a long-lasting relationship with this top client and remains loyal while providing knowledge and product advice with every step taken together.”

Access Hardware has vast experience working in areas such as education, healthcare and government. Access Hardware Supply has years of experience with the relevant rules and regulations, complemented by extensive industry relationships to help meet any specification or requirement.

As a GSA Contract Holder, AHS have the requisite knowledge to execute orders according to schedules and specs. “From office buildings and courthouses, to embassies, prisons and military installations, we can help with the products as well as the process,” the company said. “Wherever you need to provide door hardware for access, egress or security control, we’ll work with you to successfully utilize the GSA contract schedule.”

AHS also offers expert tips for locksmiths and access control hardware installers with its online Academy, which has training videos and other resources. “Our Access Academy videos hold the answers — with insights provided by industry leaders ranging from Adams Rite and Schlage to Von Duprin, plus many others, as well as our own helpful tips,” says Dilworth. “As security solutions continue to evolve, so do those who implement and support them. Locksmith security professionals established the foundation and created the cornerstones for the security and access control industry as we know it today.”