MDI looks for new identity as IP leader

Strategy shift follows a number of changes, new top executive, HQs
Sunday, May 1, 2005

SAN ANTONIO--According to company President and Chief Executive Officer J. Collier Sparks, this year, it's an all new MDI Inc.
After a number of changes in the past year including new management and headquarters, and struggling with a less than stellar reputation, the company refocused its efforts on being a provider of IP-centric building management systems that integrates video surveillance and access control applications.
The most recent reorganization began when Sparks was brought in to replace Danny Mills, who vacated the post in mid-2004. At the time the company, which was going by the American Building Controls name until last fall, was in the midst of shedding non-core businesses--it sold its SecurityandMore, a retail consumer product business, and industrial distribution business Industrial Vision Source to Mace Security in July 2004.
It also consolidated,--closing down all other offices except a research facility in Ontario, Calif.--moved into new headquarters, and downsized its headcount from 180 last January to 74 now.
Collier found that MDI Inc. needed to center around the access control brand and to show that the company took the name on as a whole.
"When I got involved and I looked at the technology, I was quite surprised," Collier said. "Looking for the direction we wanted to go through this reorganization process, it occurred to us that the part of the business that was truly missing was the middle market segment, and the drive to get into the products business."
To address this segment of the industry, MDI scaled down the enterprise-level version of its SAFEnet security management system, a project four years in the making. But Mike Garcia, vice president of marketing with the company, said MDI has not turned its back on its enterprise-level customers such as MBNA, Caterpillar and the federal government, a segment the company had long focused on.
"We are not digressing from the enterprise level," Garcia said. "I believe it's the strongest offering on the market."
Both said being able to offer technology to the middle market stemmed from the technology's open architecture platform, making it easier to integrate the product now and upgrade it as needed in the future.
"The scalability means that users can rest assured that the systems will grow as needs will grow," Garcia said. "We look at it as a one-stop shop security solution from one manufacturer."
Driving the company's move into the product space was the launch of three new product lines, including DVRs, digital cameras and access management software. In addition, at ISC West the company unveiled a line of biometric access control systems, proximity access controllers, long-range proximity readers, electromagnetic locks, electric strikes and electric bolts.
According to Collier, the new line strengthens the company's position as a single source manufacturer of integrated security solutions.
'We're more than just an enterprise level access control software company," he said.