Distributor Profiles

April 2, 2018
Locksmith Ledger questioned distributors about four market segments: decorative hardware, automotive, access control and safes
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As part of our annual Know Your Distributors section, Locksmith Ledger questioned four distributors with different specialties about the state of the industry and their business models. The questionnaire is intended to determine locksmith industry trends and to show which market sectors are experiencing growth.

Participating distributors this year include Direct Security Supply, HL Flake (automotive), IML Security and Turn 10 Wholesale. We thank representatives of these four companies for their time and input.

Direct Security Supply: Decorative Hardware

What makes you different than the other specialty/decorative hardware distributors?

Direct Security Supply stocks the industry’s most comprehensive inventory of decorative hardware -- and backs it up with a knowledgeable staff of technical product specialists. With the ever increasing pressure from customers to meet deadlines, dealers need a partner they can count on to deliver the correct hardware in the proper finish and function on time to allow them to complete their jobs on schedule. Direct Security Supply makes this happen by providing the tools necessary such as a live online inventory with customer specific pricing and an unmatched easy-to-use web order system which helps dealers get the information they need when they need it.

What product categories ore on the upswing?

The integration of keyless access, a feature formally reserved for commercial locks only, has been gaining popularity in decorative and residential applications. Customers are seeking new hardware combinations such as electronic keyless access on exterior doors mixed with traditional hardware on the interior of a home. . Direct meets the challenge of these new types of requests with its simple “stock it” policy. Stocking an ever expanding selection of hardware, the customer seldom if ever needs to look further for a special item or settle for something other than what they were looking for. In the unlikely event that an item is not in stock, a team of technical product specialists will determine if the product can be built from parts on hand.

How do you help the locksmith/security professional grow their business?

With over 800,000 SKUs from more than 50 manufacturers including industry leaders Allegion, ASSA ABLOY and Kaba, Direct has the products you have come to trust. Whether you’re looking for decorative hardware such as Baldwin or access control solutions from trusted manufacturers including Keri systems and IEI, Direct has you covered.

We provide 24/7 access to real time inventory, custom pricing, invoice history, backordered items, detailed product descriptions, and monthly specials, all from our incredibly powerful yet easy-to-use website. Whether you just what to check stock or place a full online order, it’s only a few clicks away. In addition, our blind ship program enables you to send products direct from us to your customer with your name and your name alone on the packing slip and shipping label.

What good is having a best in class inventory if you don’t have the technical knowledge to back it up? At Direct we have a knowledgeable sales force available via phone or email to help assist you in selecting the right product for your application. From identifying the proper finish or function, to designing a full blown access control system entailing the selection of proper electrified hardware, choosing the correct power supply and calculating proper voltage drops, Direct is here for you.

We offer same day shipping and you will receive an emailed copy of your order acknowledgment to ensure you are getting the correct product. A second email will be sent to you with your shipment tracking number so you’ll always know the status of your shipment.

HL Flake: Automotive

What makes you different than the other automotive distributors?
We stock a broad range of automotive products from OEM and private label in aftermarket keys and remotes to the newest programming and cutting equipment. We pride ourselves on being easy to do business with while offering the widest selection and the best availability. Orders placed late in the day, ship same day with low or no cost shipping.

We provide classes to enhance the auto locksmith/technician’s knowledge base. They range from teaching vanishing arts such as key impressioning to advanced EEPROM/MCU soldering and programming techniques. We have many former locksmiths on staff.
Are you seeing a “new” customer, a growth in Automotive work? Any specific area? Do you expect it to continue?
It seems higher end vehicle programming is gaining more traction; specifically Mercedes Benz has been of great interest. With the inception of proximity and push-to-start, we believe it will just be a matter of time until it turns into full on diagnostic computer-based tools for the automotive locksmith.

Longer term, it will be interesting to see if keys and remotes will be replaced with smart device applications for vehicle access and operation.

Are there new products being developed?

With technology advancing at such a fast pace, vehicles are more complex and automated. We see this trend accelerating. As a result, new items are continually being developed to meet the needs of the automotive locksmith. I think Mercedes programming is a profitable

What makes you different overall? How do you help the Locksmith/Security Professional grow their business?
We provide a full range of items in stock for automotive, commercial, residential, access control, safes and more. We like to think we carry everything a locksmith needs to do their job. Orders ship same day if placed before 4 p.m. Central.

Our technical sales team has over 400 years of industry experience. We support trade shows both local and national. Our own trade shows in March and October draw hundreds of locksmiths from dozens of states.

We provide classes ranging from general to advanced locksmithing techniques, ethics and how to grow your business.

Are you seeing new customer growth in general?

We are seeing growth, but we don’t see overall growth in the market; at least, not above GDP. Our growth is from increasing market share and geographic expansion.

What product categories are on the upswing/what is selling?

We see continued strong demand for Automotive Key Programmers, High Security Key Machines, Electrified Products and those that are Wi-Fi, Smart Device and Bluetooth enabled. Access Control is increasing.

We’re seeing opportunities and being easy to do business with for our customers is key. We’ve seen more small niche players come and go at a faster rate especially on the web.

What partnership benefits do you offer to locksmith customers?

The benefits locksmiths have seen since we acquired McDonald Dash include being able to leverage the collective experience and technical knowledge of the teams, faster delivery with an expanded one-day zone, reduced shipping costs, better turnaround times on specialty items, greater availability and with more critical mass, lower pricing on many products.

We offer various programs to help locksmiths be successful and more profitable in serving their customers including the best low/no cost Next Day Air program offered by any distributor. When locksmiths have special projects, we offer a quotation department to help them win the job.  Locksmiths tell us that our website (HLFlake.com) is one of the best and easiest to use.  Leasing, dating and low free freight minimums are other areas where we can help.  Our Marketing and Business Intelligence departments can assist locksmiths with their marketing and inventory management needs.

IML Security Supply: Access Control

What makes you different than the other access control distributors?

We offer strong access control knowledge, inventory from a wide variety of manufacturers, competitive pricing and experience with access control along with door hardware. We know that the secret to a good access control system is the ability to ensure the correct electrical locking hardware is used while maintaining all life safety and buildings codes.

Are you seeing a “new” customer and growth in access/security work? Any specific area? What are your projections for the future?

We have seen a strong growth and demand in the locksmithing industry for access control. We feel this will continue to be a growing segment because of their understanding of the rest of the mechanical security needs of a customer.  

What types of new products being developed? 

New products are coming out from more suppliers and at a faster pace than any time in history.  We are seeing a wide variety of products moving towards cloud-based applications with the focus on ease of access by the end user and seamless access to data. The integration of both access control and CCTV systems has become more of standard asking feature of security dealers. This allows them to provide a more complete security package tying them to their customers for a longer relationship.

What makes you different overall? How do you help the Locksmith/Security Professional grow their business?

As a distributor that has the security professional at our core, we can better understand the challenges of moving from a mechanical-oriented business towards an electronic-oriented one.  We pride ourselves on informing customers of the new technologies coming to the industry prior to them getting released and offer hands on training. IML Security Supply helps customers grow their market presence and promote the services they provide through different media and marketing campaigns.

Are you seeing new customer growth in general? 

We are seeing customers that can identify strategic areas of focus (i.e. access control, CCTV) grow at a very fast pace. 

What product categories are on the upswing/what is selling?

Customers are more comfortable with electronics than ever and, as such, products that give them more benefits using the latest technology are the fastest growing for us.

How do you describe the state/strength of distribution today?

Distribution continues to be a necessity for quick access (same day/next day) to products needed for a simple or complex job.  Distributors offer technical support, access to product training, marketing support and other value-added services to help the security professional.

What partnership benefits do you offer to locksmith customers?

At IMLSS, we focus on leveraging our manufacturer resources to offer the best value added services in the industry.

Turn 10 Wholesale: Safes

What makes you different as a trade wholesaler serving the locksmith/security professional?

We shine by offering qualify safe brands (AMSEC, Gardall, Hayman and  Fireking) and serve the local dealer trade.  We have a huge safe inventory for delivery in days.  Extra safe packaging on all UPS & LTL safe shipments equals less shipping damage.  Our Free Freight Program to 30 states and low freight costs to other states make us the go-to safe wholesaler.  In addition, on-stocked safes & special safe quotes are welcomed and processed fast & accurately.   Dealers make more safe sales and money with us.  Our other advantages include Immediate help - we answer each phone call live.

How do you help the locksmith/security professional grow their business?

Turn 10 continues to build strong and personal partnerships with dealers. We believe that the local dealer network deliver the best safe value to a local safe consumer.  We continue to provide great in-shop sales and promotional materials to highlight safes on dealer showrooms (safe banners, tee-shirts, posters, flyers, safe tags).   

Now we share extra help on how to compete against online sellers and win safe orders. As dealers try these “new safe selling recipes”, they are able to show their safe value and services are a better than a far-away web site.  Most dealers are surprised that they can win safe orders against the web and at great profits.  Ask us for help with new “safe selling recipes” that work for other dealers.

Why do you see the local dealer as the best channel to serve a local safe buyer in town vs. online sales?

Local dealers should market themselves as the local safe expert to TRUST on a safe purchase.   A distant web safe offer brings too many areas of risk to a potential safe consumer, especially when all safe purchases should be private and confidential.  Some web site risks include:  personal data sharing to many databases; credit card theft & fraudulent charges; freight damage; costly restocking  & return freight charges to mention a few.  Plus who wants a stranger knowing you just got a safe?  Local dealers can present added confidence, expertise and trust from start to finish.  Profit on these extra safe sales.

What can local dealers do to compete with safes sold on the internet?

Don’t panic when a customer brings up: ‘I saw a safe at $xyz price.’  Instead, display confidence and get them engaged in safe talk and work to match up their need with your safe knowledge.  Know your safes.  Remember, most people do not want to buy a safe online.  They prefer to buy a quality safe from a local safe expert.  Show and sell the added value and services and trust that you provide.  It works.  Make more money with safes in 2018.  Be the local go to safe expert.  Call us for extra help.