Distributor Q&A: Clark, Flake, IML, Seclock

April 4, 2016
All four distributors polled see a growing electronic security market

To check industry trends for our Know Your Distributors section, Locksmith Ledger sends out a brief questionnaire to select distributors each year.  For 2016, all four participants agreed on quite a few points. They all see growth in the electronic access control sector, and some also mentioned growth on video surveillance and traditional locksmithing products. To meet customer demands, all are stepping up their value-added services and expanding their product breadth. And all stress technical support and training.

Thanks to CLARK Security (www.clarksecurity.com), H.L. Flake (www.hlflake.com), Intermountain Lock & Security Supply (www.imlss.com) and Security Lock Distributors (www.seclock.com) for their thoughtful answers and comments on the industry trends.

Have you noticed any significant changes during the last few years in the types of products which you stock and locksmiths purchase?

CLARK: CLARK has expanded our electronic security offering two ways: 1) organically in response to market demands and 2) strategically by leveraging our supplier partners’ inventories as they create more innovative, easier to install, and affordable solutions.

Across our network we now have over $1 billion in inventory to support the marketplace, from mechanical hardware to IP video and everything in between.

Last year, CLARK invested heavily in newly stocked products across many brands so that we can provide a broader, expanded inventory — all so our customers can get the products they need faster and easier than ever. The new inventory is stocked at three strategically located hubs: Chicago (Central), San Diego (West) and DC and/or NJ (East). As always, we are providing internal training to our sales force so they can support the new products and solutions.

Intermountain: We have seen a significant increase in access control systems being purchased and installed by locksmiths (far beyond the peripherals that used to make up most of locksmith access control purchases) and, as such, have increased our depth and breadth of stock for favorite brands like Paxton, Prodatakey, Nortek, Keri Systems, and Millennium.  We have also seen more locksmiths pushing into the alarm sales arena and, accordingly, have increased our stock in the 2GIG product line.

Flake: I’ve seen more acceptance of foreign-made locks for sure. And I am seeing more purchases and stocking of electronic access.  We are buying more and our customers are buying it more. We also have a much broader offering than we did three years ago.

What support/training do you offer?

CLARK: Product education is a core part of our service offering. The object of our training is to enhance our customers’ knowledge of security and technology so they can have the confidence, knowledge, qualifications, and certifications needed to expand their business offerings.  We meet with our suppliers regularly and plan initiatives at a national level to give customers the right kind of product education and training that will support their security and business needs.

We offer a broad range of classes, from basic to advanced locksmithing, door hardware and access control, automotive, safes, certifications, more.  Most of our classes offer hands-on training for participants to practice and improve their skills in an interactive environment.

Our classes provide an affordable way to meet educational objectives including: Certification training, New product releases, Fire & Life Safety Codes, Electronic security, Servicing and troubleshooting, IP Video Installation and Introductory and advanced hands-on on courses.

This year CLARK will host two Regional Expos.  CLARK’s Midwest Security Expo and Educational Seminar was held in Chicago, March 16-18, 2016. The Southwest Security Expo and Education Seminar will be held in California in October. Additionally, we host local supplier days. This gives dealers a chance to learn about new products and network directly with our supplier partners.

Intermountain: We work very close with a wide variety of industry leading manufacturers providing the most requested courses in the industry.  In 2015, we held over 400 industry training courses covering topics in Access Control, Door Hardware, Automotive Transponders, Keying, Marketing, Business Programming and IT Networking.  Each of our facilities are equipped to comfortably seat 25 customers offering more individual attention and better communication between the instructor and students.  Our courses are tailored to provide each customer with the right amount of support, knowledge and hands-on training to be successful in their field.  Visit us at www.imlss.com for a complete list of training courses at each branch and to see our upcoming IML Expos offering over 30 training courses at each event. 

Flake: Our tradeshow is every March and we offer education – more than 20 classes taught by industry professionals and experts.  We have classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced locksmiths. We would like to see our customers invest more in education for their staff.  We also support our customer base with in-house experts at H.L. Flake, people with locksmith experience and automotive experience.  Our sales staff of 15 includes six ex-locksmiths.

SLD: We feel strongly that it is our job as the industry’s leading distributor to educate our customers and as well as our technical sales experts.  We have a huge initiative in 2016 around education.  We are building an educational platform on our new website and are building a state-of-the-art classroom where we will hold trainings and classes.  Look out for more detailed information coming soon.

What qualities help to set your company apart from the competition?

CLARK: We strive to be a reliable partner by providing our dealer partners the right products, tools, resources, services, and training they need to be successful. 

We have warehouses and will call pick up locations strategically located across the country. National reach with local presence enables us to deliver product next day via ground to over 85 percent of the U.S. population. Account managers in the field, combined with world-class branch level support, provide technical expertise and solve security challenges. For more complex projects, we leverage the technical expertise of our parent company, Anixter, and affiliated company, TRI-ED.

Reseller customers earn rewards for CLARK purchases through the CLARK Great Expectations Loyalty Program.

Intermountain: We are a solutions oriented company, helping customers stay in front of the advancing technologies that span across multiple markets. Our combination of industry experience, personal service and product availability is why over 5,000 Security Professionals depend on Intermountain Lock & Security Supply as their one-stop shop for the largest product selection, reliable service and the lowest prices.  Our employees attend a variety of training courses each month allowing them to be a great resource to our customers. 

Flake: Very broad AND deep inventory, with very competitive pricing.

SLD: We have the largest in-stock inventory, the most knowledgeable technical sales experts and added-value services that are appreciated by customers.  SLD understands customers’ needs and can recommend parts and components to make their systems work together.  For all the facts stated above, this is what makes Security Lock Distributors the logical choice when sourcing door hardware and security products.

Does your company offer value-added services in order to better support your locksmith customer base?

CLARK: We offer value-added services to help security professionals run effective businesses, sell broader and deeper into existing customers, and expand into new markets.

  • IP Addressing: As part of our value-added services to our locksmith customers, CLARK can take a lot of the uncertainty out of selling and installing video surveillance projects. We can bench test the cameras to avoid DOA units, as well as assign IP address and/or door numbers to the units to make the install go much more quickly. This way your technicians have to simply hang the cameras, and you don't need an IT person on staff to tackle these opportunities.
  • eCommerce solutions for purchasing products, receiving invoices, and paying invoice – all online.
  • Our industry-leading security education enables professional and business growth.
  • Flexible leasing and finance solutions improve cash flow.
  • Specialized services, including compliance, security, automotive, and government.
  • A new printed catalog available in print and in digital forms. Visit http://clarksecurity.com/catalog/. We are continuously creating mini-catalogs to supplement our printed catalog.

Intermountain: We offer our locksmith channel discounted marketing assistance to help grow their SEO, website content/design, overall branding and communications.  We also provide our customers new product training, delivery services, inside/outside sales consulting, training Expos and other tools that help grow their business. 

Flake: Yes.  We offer free shipping with a very low order minimum.  We feel that is a value-add. We also offer expert advice with our in-house staff with locksmith experience. Our customers profit from our experience. Another value-add is our full e-commerce site with a 1 percent discount on all online orders.

SLD: We provide an array of added-value services that help enhance our customers’ businesses.  These added-value services include using customer logos on all shipping labels and packing slips, providing customers a priceless brand extension tool.  As a true partner, we operate a strict wholesale-only policy, and we never sell to the end user.  We are there to support our customers and provide them with the best customer service we can provide to help them succeed, not compete against them!

Our www.seclock.com web portal is the industry’s most frequented and provides approved customers a suite of applications that they can utilize including Do-It-Yourself quoting and ordering, order tracking, order history, and more.  Product information such as inventory availability, list price, customer price and technical documentation are easily accessible, creating efficiencies for our customers.  We are continuously working on and improving our website to ensure we have the most up-to-date systems in place.  Look out for more information coming soon!!!

Most recently, we have added a revolutionary tool that helps customers find product information more efficiently.  SecuritySearch is an aggregate of over 200 industry price books and catalogs.  Customers can seamlessly search through the industry’s most popular and current price books and catalogs by entering a keyword, manufacturer name or part number into the search engine.  Once the customer has found the information they are looking for, they can download a set range of pages, crop part of a page, print or email to a colleague.  SecuritySearch makes finding product information and list pricing easy.

Is your company a full-line distributor of any product lines? If so, can you mention the product lines you fully stock?

CLARK: CLARK is a full-line distributor of many brands, including Allegion, Assa Abloy, Stanley, CompX, AlarmLock, CDVI, Paxton, Amsec, and much more. Additionally, CLARK offers a variety of electronic access control, video security, and cabling solutions from brands such as Hikvision, Altronix, Panasonic, Sony, Axis, Bosch, KeyScan, Arecont Vision, DoorKing, and many others!

Intermountain: With hundreds of lines in stock and dozens that we stock as "full-line", I would reference our line card found on www.imlss.com and invite you to call us to discuss your needs within a given product line.

Flake: “Full” is a broad statement, but yes, in most lines, we will stock most of the SKUs (most of the finishes, etc.)

SLD: We are recognized as the leading stocking distributor of all Allegion, ASSA ABLOY and Stanley Security brands and in total represent over 100 premium manufacturers. Our unique stocking principle to stock product lines in full, allows our customers to have access to all finishes, functions, designs, lengths, switch options, keyways and voltages across all product lines.

When comparing electronic access control, mechanical hardware, automotive security items and safe sales, what area of the security industry does your company anticipate to have the best possibility for future growth?

CLARK: Electronic Security continues to trend in our largest area for growth. With the cost of these technologies on the decline, and the ease of installation improving, we think the locksmith community is positioned very well to grow their businesses by expanding their scope of work to their existing clientele. 

We have also seen a rise in video surveillance opportunities within the locksmith channel. More and more locksmith companies are adding video to their portfolio, and CLARK is well equipped to support them. We even offer a service to do the IP addressing of cameras in house, to eliminate the labor cost for technicians to do this themselves.

Intermountain: We have seen growth from access control and electronic hardware far outpacing mechanical hardware for over a decade and anticipate that continuing for the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile purchases of mechanical hardware, automotive security, and safes remain a stable and significant part of our customers' purchases.

Flake: For us, there is plenty of growth in all areas. If I had to choose one, I would say electronic access.

Does your company have single or multiple land-based locations?  

CLARK: We have 17 stocking locations located strategically across the nation, with more on the horizon, and an ever-expanding branch network made of more than 100 Anixter and TRI-ED locations around the U.S. With this addition of locations to our network also comes access to millions of dollars of electronic security inventory, all to better serve our customers.

Intermountain: Our branches are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Washington, offering next day service to the Western United States.  Our customer have direct access to over 25,000 regularly stocked products along with over 500,000 products on-line from over 300 industry leading manufacturers.

Flake: Single location today, but stay tuned…

SLD: Security Lock Distributors has four stocked and strategically located warehouses in Massachusetts, Florida, Nevada and Illinois.  Having this national footprint provides the large majority of SLD customers with one to two-day ground delivery with 99 percent of orders shipped the same day.  

Does your company have knowledgeable technicians on staff to answer customer questions?

CLARK: Across the nation, our inside and outside sales representatives offer world-class branch level support, product knowledge, technical advice, and innovative solutions for all your security needs.

Your CLARK sales representative can:

• Augment your expertise and resources

• Design custom solutions

• Troubleshoot your business or security challenges

• Provide extensive product knowledge and technical expertise

• Offer specialized knowledge from industry certifications, including CAL, CPP, CML, CPS, CMST, PSP, CRL, ALOA, and AHC.

Our Electronic Security Specialists are trained to help customers navigate advanced electronic security solutions. They can design, configure, specify, supply, and support stand-alone to advanced network level electronic access control systems. Many are factory certified. Call your Electronic Security Specialist for support with:

  • Trends and current information
  • Job walks
  • Specifications
  • Wire diagrams
  • Solution maps
  • Quotes
  • Orders
  • Technical support

They can provide level 1 and some level 2 support for:

  • Browser based (PC- or server-based)
  • Networked (stand-alone to enterprise systems)
  • Analog and IP video surveillance/CCTV systems
  • Intrusion detection
  • Fire and life safety

Flake: Yes. We have in-house experts available and a few folks on the road with more than 20 years of locksmith expertise.

SLD: Our technical sales experts are there to guide customers, help them identify products, parts and components that are essential for their jobs.  They are always eager to provide customers with solutions for their current jobs and applications and take the time to help explain every available option.

All of our technical sales experts are factory-trained and certified and are continually being educated on the new and emerging technologies in the industry.  Security Lock Distributors trains their technical sale reps to assess each customer’s unique job to ensure that all the products in the specified system will work together properly.  All of our Technical Sales experts have experience in the field and can understand projects from the customer’s point of view.

Has your company undertaken any recent changes such as acquisitions or adding new locations?  If so, please describe the changes.  

CLARK: In partnership with Anixter, CLARK has been continuously growing to support our customers.  In 2014, Anixter acquired TRI-ED, giving us access to many new brands and solutions. TRI-ED is a leading supplier of intrusion and fire supplies, as well as video and access control solutions, which adds nicely to the CLARK/Anixter portfolio.  CLARK, Anixter, and TRI-ED make up the industry’s most formidable distributor, with over 500 sales representatives, over 500 product lines, a billion dollar inventory, and more than 100 locations across the US.

Earlier this year, we moved the CLARK-Lexington inventory to the Anixter-Cincinnati warehouse. This strategic move expands our next-day delivery footprint. Customers in the Cincinnati area will now be able to pick up orders in Will Call. It will also be easier than ever for our customers to access Anixter’s broad array of cable, networking equipment, and video products.

Additionally, CLARK now has a presence in Westwood, MA.  We moved our New England Inventory into the TRI-ED-Boston (Westwood) facility.   CLARK’s sales office remains in Worcester, MA.  We are excited that customers in the Boston region will now be able to pick up product locally, have access to TRI-ED inventory, as well as local CLARK sales staff.   Customers will save time and shipping costs. 

Intermountain: New to Intermountain Lock & Security Supply  is our Washington Branch with an expected opening date of April 2016.  This location will help serve customers in the Washington, Oregon and Idaho territories offering same day or next day delivery services, a wide variety of stocked products, training and support.

Flake: Last summer, yes.  Broader inventory, yes. Bringing more talent into the company, yes. Single location today, but stay tuned…