Smith & Wesson likes security—on the perimeter

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04/12/2011

Here’s an interesting new development from gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson: After just severing its ties March 31 with the Smith & Wesson Security Services dealer program, the company has announced that it has “rebranded its wholly-owned perimeter security division, formerly known as Universal Safety Response.”

The division’s new name is Smith & Wesson Security Solutions.

That announcement was made April 4 by Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., the parent company of Smith & Wesson Corp., a 159-year old company in the global business of safety, security, protection and sport. “The new name more accurately reflects the company's long-term heritage and leadership in security and protection,” the company said.

The rebranding announcement came just five days after the revelation that Smith & Wesson had severed its nearly three-year relationship with NationWide Digital Monitoring Co. effective March 31. The partnership had allowed NationWide to sell Smith & Wesson-branded security products, and NationWide contends the agreement was ended against its wishes and very abruptly by new management at Smith & Wesson.

The dissolution of the partnership has left the 70 dealers in NationWide’s dealer program with a short grace period—until April 30—to strip away the Smith & Wesson name from their security products such as advertising, trucks, uniforms, doorknob hangers and lawn signs, in which they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Is there a connection between Smith & Wesson’s ending of one security relationship and the rebranding of its perimeter security division?

Liz Sharp, Smith & Wesson VP investor relations, told me, “No.” She said the timing of the two developments is coincidental and unrelated. The two businesses are completely separate, she said.

Smith & Wesson has said little about the ending of its relationship with NationWide. Sharp has said only that Smith & Wesson wanted to protect its brand after the agreement failed to perform as expected.

The company strongly endorsed its perimeter security division in last week’s announcement.

In a statement, Michael Golden, president and CEO of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., said, “We are excited about the opportunity to leverage our strong Smith & Wesson brand name in the perimeter security market. For nearly 160 years, our firearm products have come to represent safety, security and protection for law enforcement and security professionals, military organizations, and consumers both in the United States and abroad. Having a single, globally-recognized brand name allows us to extend that proposition to commercial and government clients seeking a trusted source for their perimeter security needs."

Barry Willingham, president of Franklin, Tenn.-based Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, said in a statement: “Our unique products have already earned a tremendous reputation with our existing customers.  We expect this rebranding to provide us new opportunities by differentiating Smith & Wesson Security Solutions in the competitive arena and better positioning our business to play a significant role in the global security marketplace.”