Kolkers buy Sandy Springs

Ackerman vet purchase formalizes informal referral system
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Friday, August 1, 2008

ATLANTA--Burt Kolker has been working in marketing and sales for Ackerman Security, a super regional located here, for more than 30 years. He’s been referring customers back and forth with Sandy Springs Locksmiths and Safes for almost as long.

Now that he’s purchased Sandy Springs, Kolker is formalizing the longstanding informal referral arrangement between the two companies.

“I plan to wear two hats,” Kolker said. He will continue to serve as a senior sales consultant at Ackerman, while also leading the marketing partnership between Ackerman and Sandy Springs. Kolker’s wife, Susan, will become chief executive officer of the locksmith company. They’ve added the word security to the company’s name. It’s now known as Sandy Spring Locksmith, Safes and Security.

Terms of the deal, which Kolker announced in July, were not released. Kolker said he delayed the announcement for several months because he’s been hampered by an unanticipated “phony locksmith issue.” Unlicensed locksmithing is a major headache for legitimate locksmiths, he said. He was involved (successfully, but at great expense) with related litigation. Now, he’s decided the best course for Sandy Springs is to combat phony locksmithing by “branding my company more … to come at it from marketing and sales rather than [through legal measures].”

Sandy Springs has about 10,000 customers, seven employees besides the Kolkers, and a brick-and-mortar store in Atlanta. It specializes in traditional locksmithing, a product line of safes, and “one of the specialties [Sandy Springs] has gotten into is outside perimeter security for yards and driveway alarms. It’s another level of security for larger properties and estates,” Kolker explained.

Kolker was the owner of one of the three small companies purchased by Burt Ackerman in 1970 to form the original Ackerman Security.

Kolker intends to “apply marketing ideas and the things I did at Ackerman to build Sandy Springs into a stronger traditional locksmith.” He expects lots of help from referrals from Ackerman’s sales force, which numbers about 50. And he’ll be focusing on automating the sales process at Sandy Springs, like he did at Ackerman.

“From tracking all calls that come in [from the lead through the sale and follow-up] and using GPS so the trucks can be used and serviced more efficiently.” He’ll utilize “several computer contact and dispatch programs he instituted … much of what Ackerman is doing now.”