Education gets top billing at Anixter's new solutions lab
GLENVIEW, Ill.--Educating security integrators and end users is just one goal for Anixter's sleek new "Infrastructure Solutions Lab" here at their headquarters, but it's the top priority, said Anixter president and chief executive officer Bob Grubbs.
"It's how we differentiate ourselves," he said during a May 15 media open house.
By offering educational workshops, providing published resource guides and bringing integrators into the Solutions Lab to test products and help them decide which combination of security products will meet their needs, Anixter shows integrators "that we're not just another guy with a camera and coax ... we've got something that [integrators] didn't have available to them before," Grubbs added.
In business since the 1950s, Anixter does close to $5 billion in business annually. It has three business divisions, of which Enterprise Cabling and Security Solutions is the largest. This division was born in the early 1990s after the break up of the phone companies. Intrigued by the growth of video surveillance and convinced that it would all be IP-based eventually, Anixter entered the security industry late in 2000.
Anixter vice president of technology for Enterprise Cabling Solutions Andy Jimenez said the new lab's mission is threefold, to "educate, demonstrate and evaluate." The three-room lab is set up correspondingly with a boardroom for discussion and education, flanked by a demonstration room on one side and an evaluation room on the other.
The demonstration room is where integrators and end users can come to see a real-world preview of a security solution they're considering. Tim Holloway, vice president of technology, security solutions emphasized that, while Anixter has manufacturing partners, the lab is not used to discredit any technology. Rather, outfitted with analog, IP and hybrid cameras, DVRs, NVRs, and cable cabinets, the center allows visitors to compare monitoring, access control and video analytics solutions and make "critical business decisions," he said.
Whenever possible, Anixter likes to have the IT and physical security personnel present.
Noting that there are not yet standards for video surveillance, Anixter executives said they're eager to share their expertise in cabling and electrical standards, which provide important guidance to security integrators.
A basic example, Holloway said, was teaching integrators to "employ structured cabling practices even if they're running coax." These practices will not only make the infrastructure and repair easier, it will put the integrator "in a better position to offer solutions when the customer wants to migrate to IP."