Get out the big guns

Smith & Wesson-branded security systems in partnership with NationWide Digital
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Major gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced on May 1 a licensing agreement with NationWide Digital Monitoring Co., a division of New York Merchants Protective Co., to design and sell Smith & Wesson-branded security systems. The partnership program, which will be launched at the ESX show in June with product announcements following at ISC East in October, will initially be rolled out in six southern states by October, and fully deployed by January of 2009, said Wayne Wahrsager, chief executive officer of NationWide.

The residential and commercial security systems will be specifically tailored to meet the expectations of Smith & Wesson’s customer base, said Bobbie Hunnicutt, vice president of licensing for Smith & Wesson. “We have done a lot of work to understand our brand and the perception of our brand,” she said. “One of the things we discovered is that our brand stands for security, safety and protection … As we continue to expand our traditional business, we are looking to expand into new markets where we know our brand resonates well and the security [industry] is one of those market goals … It is a natural step for us.”

Because Smith & Wesson is a large provider of weaponry to law enforcement agencies (Hunnicutt cited a 98 percent market share of police-issued revolvers), the company expressed the need to be conscious of law enforcement’s part in the security space.
“They are completely in lockstep with us and that was important.”

With concerns about police responding to a large number of false alarms, Smith & Wesson-branded products will have additional technologies integrated into its systems. “These products will have multiple technologies for redundancy and false alarm prevention and verification,” said Wahrsager. “Depending on the product, they will have two-way voice verification and higher-end models will have video verification.” Products will also be VoIP compatible, with an Internet or GSM component, he said.

NationWide will be primarily in charge of designing the systems. “We are leaving it to NationWide; they have the background and knowledge,” Hunnicutt said. “We will support them with information and we will retain ultimate approval.” Smith & Wesson will receive ongoing royalty revenues from installed systems.

NationWide has created a separate division in its central station with specific operators dedicated to monitoring the Smith & Wesson systems, said Wahrsager. The dealer program will be semi-exclusive and only offered to highly qualified individuals. “We will be specifically recruiting dealers who will undergo an extensive background check and they must be licensed and in business for a minimum of five years,” he said. “We’re looking for professionals--the brand needs to be protected--we’re not looking for hopes and dreams.”

Wahrsager anticipates dealers coming on and being active by October of this year.