The new frontier: tackling a changing industry

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Saturday, November 1, 2003

Publisher, Security Systems News

The industry feels a bit like the Wild West these days! You’d think that it was being discovered today and hadn’t been a long-term, stable provider of security products for homes and businesses for decades! It’s all the changes that are afoot that makes it feel this way.

When I talk with some of the manufacturers, they’re working on uncovering the road to gold in “them thar hills.” New products, new solutions and niche markets are all up-and-coming targets to expand their business. They see untapped ground, a way to get a leg up on their competitors and a way to increase their bottom line. And let me say the pressures to increase this bottom line are incredible, regardless of the realities of our slowed economy. And others are hoping to find new paths, new partnerships, and unusual product to capture new sales and dollars.

Think of how many outsiders from other industries have come into our market in the last year or so, new vendors, resellers, financial sources, dozens of trade shows, magazines, conferences, all planning to capture their fortune and share in the New World of security? And all while the industry is struggling to keep up with the demands from stockholders, corporate headquarters or just to meet month-to-month operating costs and sales goals. This has increased the excitement, the pressure, the frenzy and, in some cases, the anxiety. Yup, the Wild West! Do you go right or left at the fork? Do you follow the crowd or carve out your own path? If you try this, what will happen?

The slowed economy has raised the bar for everyone to jump into the highly competitive war for those limited dollars and few growth opportunities in airports and government sales. There’s been spending there but in order to get a shot at it, you needed affordable, unique but proven products … and to be willing to run like a mouse in the rat wheel of fortune, jump through the rings of fire while you smile, smile, smile. Exhausting, but exciting.

Given all the hype about the expected industry growth, to the best of my knowledge it just hasn’t happened. You, our subscribers and the manufacturer’s reseller, who serve every market under the sun, including:

- 83.5% commercial, industrial, manufacturing - 72.5% retail, department stores, supermarkets, conveniences stores, restaurants - 65.6% educational facilities, schools, universities, child care - 64.9% private residences - 61.5% healthcare, hospitals, nursing care, etc. - 60.8% new construction, architects, engineers, building - 55% institutions, hotels, museums, sports arenas, entertainment facilities - 52.9% finances, banking, insurance - 53.3% government, buildings, infrastructures, law enforcement.

You, the readers, also service 40.9% wholesale, warehousing, distribution - 38.1% utilities, power, gas, nuclear - 26.5% military, defense - 20% enterprise level companies - 19.2% private transportation, buses, trains subways - 15.8% public transportation roads, bridges, infrastructure - 13.4% fire systems only - 5.2% do not install, and 2% are involved in other areas of the market. Quite honestly, there are many others!

You have told us that most buyers just don’t have any money to spend, but they have a tremendous need for product. I’m not saying there hasn’t been growth or sales, there have been. But it’s been a fight to get them or make them happen.

The growing pains of transforming from a regionally based industry to a national and international provider, while offering everything in between in a slowed economy, is no easy trick! It could make you crazy! Especially when one player has deep pockets and a giant reach and another doesn’t. How do you balance it all?

I believe in balance and that the pendulum swings through the middle and always stops in the middle after it swings from right to left. Be careful not to get caught up in the frenzy of the moment and lose sight of your long-term picture. Don’t panic, don’t rush, and don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Keep, feed and nurture what you’ve already built, while you responsibly reach out for new resources!