2021 Security Industry Business Climate: Securitech

March 1, 2021
For Securitech, the key to a successful year is teamwork and having the right products for the times.
Mark J. Berger, FDHI, president and chief product officer
Mark J. Berger, FDHI, president and chief product officer

One year ago, the security industry, along with the rest of the country, was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, shelter-in-place orders, working from home and social distancing has become a way of life, along with the ubiquitous masks. Time will tell how long those terms remain with us, but, so far, 2021 has shaped up to be like 2020 in many ways.

Locksmith Ledger is publishing a series of articles that attempt to assess the 2021 business climate through the eyes of security industry manufacturers. We want to know how the companies are faring during these troubled times, how they assess the security industry at large and what locksmiths and security pros can do to take advantage of the situation.

Our latest interview in the series was conducted with Mark J. Berger, FDHI, president and chief product officer of Securitech Group Inc.

What are the prospects for the security industry in 2021?

Good. Although we all suffer from continued unrest in society, it’s generally considered to be a harbinger of increased activity in the security industry. Plus, the introduction of technologies will remain a driver, particularly as more people work remotely.

How does remote work fuel the discussion?

It’s not so much our space, but the cybersecurity world is critical. More people are using their home devices to log on to a company’s internal systems, and if your kid opens a phishing email or your spouse, all of a sudden, they can infect your entire network.

From a physical point of view, people also should think about home safes and things like that, fireproof safes, for safeguarding information.

What security products do you see as taking center stage in the next year?

Obviously, there’s been a great increase in hands-free products. That’s not going to change, because personal safety and suspicion of touching services will remain long after COVID recedes.

Forced-entry solutions will continue to grow in importance, as will safe-haven products. The return to normal operations in society will, unfortunately, coincide with wealth disparity, and the economic recovery won’t be instantaneous. So, crime and mental health issues will increase, as will the need for better security against break-ins and acts of violence.

What are the prospects for your company in 2021?

Securitech’s multipoint locking forced-entry and automatic deadbolts experienced dramatic growth in 2020. We expect this to continue for security and life-safety reasons.

Is this from having new products or just the right products at the right time?

[It’s] two things. Number 1, our philosophy of always coming up with something that’s innovative and different. Number 2, the fact that we’re identified as a protection-against-forced-entry company and have been for 40 years.

This year, the COVID product we created was called AYZRE, and that’s the ability to open a lever without touching the lever. So it’s a cost-effective hands-free solution that’s also code compliant.

And we’ve continued to add functions and features to the Auto-Bolt Max line, and we’ve seen that growing exponentially, particularly in the cannabis and cellphone retail markets.

What did your company learn about COVID that will propel it forward?

We’ve had a culture of respect and honesty within our company. That was critical in our continuing operations through the pandemic.

Making sure that we could get orders out the door was Number 1. Number 2 was removing pressure from employees that if they didn’t feel well that they would impact what’s happening to the company. We took a very early posture that we told everybody, “Here is our health policy of how you should determine whether or not to come in: You don’t feel well? Don’t come in.”

There are no metrics. There’s no, “Oh, your temperature has to be a certain degree.” You don’t feel well? Don’t come in. We’d rather be safe than sorry. We paid everybody, and nobody really took advantage of it. Everybody understood it was for everybody’s common good.

We also do a great deal of cross-training, so we were able to meet our commitments, even when we were in skeleton-staff mode during the early phase.

The saddest part for us is not being able to go and see our customers and end users. We miss that direct contact.

Without that, what methods do you use to maintain good relations?

We’re trying to go old school and do phone as much as emails so that we hear voices. Many people are “Zoomed” out, so if you don’t have a reason to take them through a presentation on Zoom, don’t do it.

How much do you expect the lingering effects of the pandemic will affect the industry and your company over the next year?

I expect 2021 to look very much like 2020. I don’t expect to see any change until the fourth quarter.

What’s Securitech doing or has done to make sure it gets through another difficult year?

Encouraging people to break into stores.

Seriously, we’re going more into digital marketing in terms of getting the word out, because we realized everybody is glued to their screens for most of their day. We’re trying to be respectful and not bombard people unnecessarily, but it’s like what Willie Sutton said when asked, “Why do you rob banks?” “That’s where the money is.” So, we have to make sure that we’re staying in touch with people and that they’re getting our message.

And it’s always making sure that end users are aware of our solutions even though we don’t sell to them directly. We want to make sure that they’re aware of what can be provided.

How do locksmiths take advantage of this changing business landscape?

Learn about new products and solutions. Reach out in your communities and establish yourself as a go-to for everyday solutions and upgrades to meet new needs. Emphasize being proactive, and don’t let clients come to the locksmith AFTER an event has happened.

How is Securitech involved in helping the locksmith to learn about new products and solutions?

We’re big believers in training. When we see locksmiths are involved with one of our products for the first time, in a new order, we try to arrange for one-on-one online training with them. We’ve really upped the online stuff, and that will continue.

As far as being proactive, how can locksmiths help clients to be proactive about their security needs?

Part of it is, when possible, going to survey a facility at a safe distance. Another part is using technology and the one that’s on everybody’s phone — the camera. Have clients send them pictures.

The third thing would be setting up video calls with the clients where you take them to particular websites and show them things, rather than send them to websites where they’ll get lost. So, for example, you would take them to Securitech’s website and tell them, “This is what this product can do for you, and this is what that one does.”

About the Author

Will Christensen | Senior Editor

Will Christensen is senior editor at Locksmith Ledger International. He has been an editor and reporter at magazines and newspapers for more than 30 years.