A Conversation with Jill Johnston

As the security industry plows forward with new technology, products and ideas, there is the ever-present worry that some of the best available products will have to contend with knockoffs from China. It seems to happen in every industry, but maybe more so in the security market, to the chagrin of security manufacturers. During a conversation we had during ASIS 2010 with KJB Technologies President Jill Johnston, we wanted to know more.

Q. Security is a worldwide proposition, with many countries getting involved in manufacturing. How do North American companies feel about Chinese knockoffs, and how does your company battle against them?

A. As a manufacturer of security and surveillance products, we’ve encountered several knockoffs of some of our successful products, like our SleuthGear product line. As far as battling against these imported knockoffs, our most effective way to combat that problem is by continuing to produce high-quality products that meet and exceed customers’ expectations. Combined with the customer service and technical support from a U.S.- based team of experts, customers realize the value of purchasing a product that is made and supported in the United States of America.

Q. How important are warranties, customer service and technical support in the security industry?

A. In an industry with a great deal of competition, value-added services like warranties, customer service and technical support are a very important part of differentiating yourself from the competition.

Savvy consumers realize that there is much more to buying a piece of security equipment than the product or price itself. These value-added services can help a company stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Q. When an end user considers a mainstream product for a security installation, what advantages do North American companies offer that will not be found from a knockoff product?

A. The ability to talk to a customer service or technical support expert based domestically is a big benefit for our customers. Combined with shorter lead times for product shipments, we’ve found that customers who buy from the United States are much more satisfied than if they were to buy a knockoff.

There also is the inherent peace of mind a consumer gains from buying a product manufactured and supported in the United States, and knowing someone is there to help answer pre-sale questions as well as postsale support.

Q. Talk about quality of North American manufacturing versus products found from the Chinese market. Is there a difference?

A. We’ve found that the quality of the products is not always a reflection of the geographic market they were produced in, but more often the company that produces it. Certainly there are highquality products manufactured in both locations, just as there can be substandard products manufactured in both areas. Where quality really begins and ends is with the manufacturers themselves. With the growing population in China driving down labor rates, we’ve definitely seen a propensity in recent years for lower-quality products to be produced en masse from China, while U.S. domestic production seems to focus more on quality than quantity.

Q. Where do you see the security industry economy going in 2011? Is the industry building momentum, and are end users coming back with key projects and buys?

A. While 2010 was economically slow for many industries, we noticed that with regard to security product purchases, our customers and their end users continued not only to maintain their levels of purchasing, but even to increase spending. We attribute this to people’s desire to protect the assets that they have, rather than purchasing new assets that might need protecting. Now that the economy as a whole is starting to recover, we are seeing end users investing even more heavily in their security projects.

Q. What are the three strongest verticals in 2011 that security professionals should be aware of?

A. One of the strongest verticals that we are monitoring is the growth in the technology market. With ever-expanding forms of technology-based communication comes the innate desire to secure and protect these communications. Cell phone and computer monitoring products have exploded in popularity and will continue to be linked to the tech market.

We also are keeping a close eye on the auto industry as it continues to rebound, as we look for new ways to promote and integrate our GPS tracking products.

Manufacturing is a third and very important vertical to watch, as the shift from domestic to foreign production can have significant effects on the market.

Q. What new technologies can end users expect to see at ASIS 2011?

A. These days it seems like everyone has a cell phone. With this explosive increase in use, all types of end users are looking for products to monitor these phones. Parents, spouses, employers, law enforcement and private investigators are just some of the end users looking for ways to monitor cellular communications. This increase in popularity will lead to new technologies to monitor these phones.

For example, the Cell Phone Recon monitoring software is tracking software installed directly on your BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Android phone that gives you the capability to monitor incoming and outgoing text messages, call logs and e-mails. The iRecovery Stick has similar functionality for the Apple iPhone, so that users can recover deleted call logs and text messages from their iPhone. It’s new technologies like these that will help give end users the peace of mind they are looking for when it comes to monitoring cell phone communications.

Q. What is your vision for using IP-enabled video surveillance systems over the network?

A. IP-enabled video surveillance systems are quickly becoming the standard for users who want to monitor their home or business when they are not able to physically be there. Whether it be the parent who wants to make sure their child is being treated with care by the babysitter, or the employer who wants to monitor their business, or one of many other countless applications, IP video is a hot technology right now.

At KJB Security, our vision for IP-enabled video is to make it easy to install and use, and to provide quality user experience so the customer is completely satisfied with their purchase. By providing high-quality IP video surveillance products built in to both covert and non-covert products, we can help users gain peace of mind knowing that their home, office and businesses are safe and secure.

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Security Today.

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