Solid on the Ground

Solid on the Ground

Engineers collaborate on access control ideas to keep the gates open

Talk about intensity, Aeroturn engineers have found a new passion for developing turnstiles. In fact, they treat everything they do as if it is the only thing they do. They take great pride in manufacturing a “Made in the USA” access control device. “We have a lot of passion,” said Michael Stoll, vice president of technical sales and marketing at Aeroturn LLC. “We pride ourselves in manufacturing a superb product in Connecticut, for security in the United States.”

Their small-town USA story is equally as interesting. They are a group of engineers who met and worked together in the 1980s, each engineering products for other manufacturers. Perhaps over a cup of morning coffee, each engineer determined they might be better off collaborating, designing and earning patents as a team. And so Aeroturn LLC was born.

“Several patents later, turnstiles found us,” Stoll said. “In the 1990s, we built more than 3,000 turnstiles for a customer, and we enjoyed doing it. So, we went off on our own and created This Century’s Turnstiles.

“We literally started with a clean sheet of paper, and thousands of hours of development. We finally incorporated in 2001 and then embarked on invention and testing.”

Aeroturn’s first rotary and linear turnstiles were installed in 2004, and now they have a Who’s Who customer list, all of which is 100 percent repeat business, Stoll said. The list includes the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service and the 18 acres of land the White House sits on. Recent customers include the U.S. Treasury Department, Harvard University and the renovation of the Baker Library, which was built in the 1800s.

The company started with a three person strong staff, but has grown quickly as projects have been secured and upgrades and renovations have taken place. Stoll said it is not a fair fight when asked about competition even though others have size and marketing tools available to them. Stoll said because they are a small organization, they are nimble enough to out maneuver the competition.

“In the past 15 years, we’ve never had a single lane replacement,” Stoll said. “We pack in quality. All our parts and labor are in the United States. We do a lot of different things from a launch and learn to take things apart to see how we can improve upon them.

“We feel like we’re always on the leading edge, so it’s not a fair fight with our competitors. The turnstile industry is a tough industry to be involved in. Sometimes, it feels like it’s a race to the bottom. That’s why we are pressing for the integration of biometrics on the turnstile, the optical barcode and any customization that would work for our customers.”

Aeroturn spends about 40 percent of its time in the federal government space, and 25 percent each in the Class A tenant space and pharmacy. Stoll said another 25 percent of their business is a rip and replace activity where they have replaced a current turnstile design that helps a new customer control access. The remaining 10 percent is spent on campuses.

Once the equipment is properly specified, manufactured, and delivered, Aeroturn technicians will perform the ultimate installation, and then commission it. They use tile coring and drill equipment of their own design, turnstile transport and positioning tools developed by Aeroturn for Aeroturn, and anchorage techniques developed for turnstiles to efficiently produce results superior to any other method of installing turnstiles. We even make available our own proprietary cable for interconnects and desk control hookup.

Photograph by William Horne

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Security Today.

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