Distributor Profiles: Preferred, Top Notch, American Key, Access Hardware

April 3, 2017
Locksmith Ledger questions distributors in four market segments: web-based, full stocking, automotive and electronics

As part of our annual Know Your Distributor coverage Locksmith Ledger sends a brief questionnaire to a number of locksmith distributors each year. The questionnaire is designed to determine possible changes in the types of products locksmiths are purchasing and to introduce our readership to distributors who have participated. While types of products are changing, locksmith distributors are also changing to meet current marketing challenges.

Participating distributors this year were chosen from marketing segments including electronics, automotive, web-based and full stocking categories.

Preferred Lock Supply: Web-Based

What are the major locksmith advantages for using a website-only distributor?

The biggest advantages to using PreferredLock.com are convenience and savings. Locksmiths can shop 24/7, at the time and place that fits their busy schedule. And, because of the efficiencies of being an online distributor, we can pass savings on to our members.

Do you have persons available who can answer technical questions?

We have some of the industry’s most knowledgeable experts standing by to immediately answer any online chats. Our chat is staffed Monday – Friday, from 8am – 5pm EST. After hours, locksmiths can email us at [email protected] and we will respond the next business day.

Can a locksmith check product availability and place orders 24 hours a day?

Absolutely. Just click the “Check Availability” button on any of our 60,000 sku’s, enter the quantity and destination zip code, press the button again, and it will instantly show you the number of days it will take for that item to arrive at your door.

Which areas of the country do you serve and what is the normal delivery time?

PreferredLock.com is a national locksmith wholesaler with five strategically placed, fully stocked warehouses. Orders shipping to the continental United States can expect a delivery time of 1-2 days. Orders are processed the same day they are placed, so there is no need to factor in an additional day.

Is your company a full-line distributor of any product lines? Please describe.

Yes. Our only function is to stock complete product lines in quantities that will help us satisfy the needs of our customers. So, you will find the complete product lines of ASSA Abloy brands (Corbin Russwin, Sargent, Arrow, Yale, Rixson, Norton, HES, Folger Adam, Medeco, Securitron, Adams Rite, McKinney, Alarm Controls) and Allegion brands (Schlage, LCN, Von Duprin, Falcon, Ives, Dexter Commercial, Glynn-Johnson) as well as Hager Companies, Kwikset, Baldwin, Emtek, ACSI, Dorma, Kaba Access, Don Jo and more. And you can find what you want quickly and easily with our advanced search capabilities.

How does you company handle product returns?

Use the Contact Us page or email [email protected] to start the Return Request. Members will then receive an email with shipping labels provided. All defective or products shipped in error will be replaced for free. In all situations, we will work with each Locksmith or Security Professional to resolve a situation in the way that best helps them.

What qualities does your company have which helps to separate your company apart from the competition?

PreferredLock.com is embracing the technology that makes online purchasing easy and efficient. Instead of waiting on hold to get pricing and lead times on products, our members find all of the information they need in an instant. Members can then check out quickly and safely, and get on with their day. PreferredLock.com gives Members access to anything they need to get the job done without picking up the phone or waiting on an email, including veteran tech support at the touch of a button. This is why we say Welcome to Modern Locksmithing.

Top Notch: Full Line

What new product categories are you adding for residential customers?

Home automation product offerings that tie into home security products, like Schlage Control, KABA inSync, and Alarm Lock Architech. Most products are now compatible with cellphones, tablets, iPads, etc.

How about your commercial/institutional customers? Are you seeing them migrate from mechanical to electronic access control?

The demand for mechanical products is still very strong, but we are noticing more and more dealers also utilizing electronic access control solutions to better service their customers.

Does your company offer technical assistance?

We have 30 technical representatives that are available Monday through Friday from 8AM EST until 8PM EST. We also have a Live Chat agent on our website (www.topnotchinc.com)

Does your company offer educational classes, seminars or conventions for locksmiths?

Yes, we have a brand new training facility in our recently acquired Hingham, MA location.

Can a locksmith check product availability and place orders 24 hours a day?

On our website, www.topnotchinc.com, we offer inventory on hands as well as pricing and order placement, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What areas of the country does your company serve?

We serve the entire 50 states plus Latin America, with locations in MA, PA, MO, and NV.

Is your company a full-stocking distributor of any product line?

Top Notch stocks over 70 manufacturers, with same day shipping on all of the brands we stock, including Allegion brands, Baldwin, Kwikset, Stanley, and Hager.

What qualities separate your company from the competition?

Our service levels are unparalleled in the industry, along with our technical representatives’ average years of experience in the industry of 20 years and the integrity with which we go to market each and every day.

American Key Supply: Automotive

What products would you suggest for a beginning locksmith to stock in order to be prepared to service the automotive security market?

The best advice we can give a beginning locksmith is to start small. Too often we see people attempting to buy every automotive mechanical blank created since the Model T. This is unnecessary as it will take years, maybe decades before they see any return on that sort of an investment. Think about the most popular cars on the road and set yourself up to cater to the largest common denominator.

No modern automotive locksmith will be able to function without a high security key cutter. Fortunately, machines such as the Condor XC Mini have become increasingly affordable, and with the development of the AutoProPad by XTool, transponder key programming should be within reach for all.

We have created a couple of transponder key and mechanical key starter packs which will pair well with these machines. Starter packs are great since they give beginners a bundle of the most commonly used keys, getting them sufficiently prepared for what’s to come. As with any profession, the more you hone your craft, the more you’ll come to realize which tools you are missing and will inevitably need. Stay informed, join online discussion groups such as Locksmith Friends (on Facebook) and go to trade shows to befriend like-minded individuals. Learn which tools your peers swear by and give those a try before you buy.

Can a locksmith specialize only in automotive lock work or should a locksmith consider automotive locksmithing as part of their overall business?

One could feasibly make a fine living performing strictly automotive work but there will be an overlap in skillset between automotive and residential/commercial locksmithing that will translate well if the desire is there to take on a greater variety of jobs. I think it is considerably harder for a traditional residential or commercial locksmith to make the leap to modern automotive locksmithing than it is the other way around. This is due to the learning curve and costs associated with automotive locksmithing. One could become a fully functional residential locksmith with a small investment in a punch-type key cutter, pinning kit, a modest assortment of picks and hand tools and a selection of key blanks tailored to meet the needs of their respective local market. In short, it is far easier and exponentially more affordable to take on traditional locksmithing as an automotive locksmith than it would be in reverse.

What areas of the country does you company serve and what is the usual amount of time required for delivery of products?

We service all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. We offer free standard shipping for all orders totaling $100 or greater. Our distribution center is located in Henderson, Nevada, so if you’re in a neighboring state, that earns you free overnight shipping on most orders. Beyond that, our standard shipping times range from 1-2 business days for most areas in the contiguous 48 states. If you’re in urgent need of parts for a job, we have overnight delivery options available as well for an additional fee. Almost all orders placed by 3pm Pacific will ship out same-day. The easiest way to order from us is through our website at AmericanKeySupply.com. You could also phone in your orders via 800-692-1898. We do, however, encourage our customers to take the time to learn the functionality of our website. We pour a lot of time and energy into making it streamlined and handy for ordering, tracking shipments and printing receipts from previous orders etc.

Does your company have technicians available to answer questions?

We have several former locksmiths on-staff to help you tackle even the most complicated issues which may arise in the field. We stand behind every single item we sell and offer 24/7 technical support for most any machine. I've personally done everything from guiding rookies on extracting Kwikset cylinders to helping our most seasoned clientele reflash ECUs in the field.

Can a locksmith check product availability and place orders 24 hours a day?

Absolutely. Our website, http://americankeysupply.com/, never takes a day off, never sleeps and thus far has not asked for a raise. We can be reached by phone, by e-mail, and online chat during regular business hours and we even have after-hours support available. You could even drop by our distribution center if you’re ever in the Las Vegas area. We have 6 full-time customer service reps who are all very capable of guiding our customers through the most complicated of ordering and shipping scenarios.

What does your company have which helps to separate your company apart from the competition?

We are currently developing a mobile app which we feel will become the most valuable tool for every single locksmith currently servicing vehicles. It will always have the most current information on key cutting and programming with relevant tips and tricks as provided by the locksmithing community. It will assist in everything from key-making methods and chip cloning to code series and specific key machine usage. Best of all, it will be FREE. We are in the final stages of having a functional beta ready to be released to the public. Visit AutoProApp.com for more details.

Access Hardware Supply: Electronics

What prompted your company to specialize in sales of electronic security products?

Our company founder saw a need for electronic security products distribution as the demand for access control grew in the Silicon Valley in the early 1970s. We established direct relationships with factories and were installing electronic locks for integration companies. There was an opportunity to provide these products to local locksmiths and the wholesale division was started.

Does your company offer technical assistance?

Yes, Access Hardware Supply provides technical support to our customers with our inside and outside sales team.

Does your company offer educational classes or seminars for locksmiths?

Our company started the Access Academy and hosts classes throughout California. We pride ourselves in offering technical training to include: Basic Electronics and Relays, Fire Door classes and Door survey classes for access control hardware. We also offer classes by our manufacturers that are technical in nature.

Can a locksmith check product availability and place orders 24 hours a day?

Yes, we have an e-commerce system for our customers. It is controlled with login and passwords for security. Visit www.accesshardware.com for more information.

What areas of the country does your company serve?

Our company can ship nationally but the majority of our business is in the 14 Western States.

Is your company a full-stocking distributor of any product line?

We are a full stocking distributor for ASSA Abloy Products: Adams Rite, HES and Securitron. We also fully stock the Allegion Products: Schlage Commercial, Von Duprin, LCN, Dexter and Falcon.

What qualities set your company apart from the competition?

Our main differentiator at Access Hardware Supply is our people and depth of knowledge. We know that anyone can stock the product but few can assist in application and product support. We also have a large inventory and a technical warehouse team that has been trained to reconfigure options on the product like voltage and finish to ship orders complete.