From the Top

Q&A from the Top: Bryan Sanderford

Today's business climate is just as tough for the smaller manufacturer as it is for the big guys. But go-to market strategies differ in terms of whether to hold back and wait or pour the coals on the fire and keep a dynamic presence.

Somewhere in the middle is Dortronics, which comes to market with a strategy of responsiveness and willingness to mix it up with anyone. We wanted to know more, so we sat down with Bryan Sanderford, the company's national sales manager.

Q. How has the economic downturn affected business?

A. There's no arguing that the economic environment has affected most manufacturing businesses this past year, primarily in terms of sales versus previous years. Customers are still purchasing because security remains a priority, but they are doing so with smaller budgets and for projects that are reduced in scope. From a positive side, though, most vendors are adapting and becoming more creative and responsive in their products and services, including designs that are easier to install and with products that address more focused applications at cost-efficient price points.

At Dortronics, we've re-evaluated our go-to market strategy rather than going into survival mode and are developing products and programs to help ensure continued growth now and into the future. The key is to not abandon the foundations of a good business, such as fostering customer relationships or providing quality goods and services, but rather build on these attributes.

Q. Besides tightened budgets, what else is affecting customers, and how are vendors responding?

A. Organizations are expected to do more with less across all user categories. For example, companies are looking to decrease the number of security guards on duty in an effort to reduce overhead, which places the additional burden on the remaining guards.

One solution to help address this situation is to use products that facilitate better monitoring capabilities, such as custom-designed consoles that allow monitoring from a central point. By incorporating zone annunciators and controllers, these new consoles allow fewer guards to monitor the condition of several doors, which are displayed on the panel and allow remote doors to be released for free passage. The investments in new systems products like this are proven to reduce overall operating expenses over the long haul.

Q. What types of products continue to be popular?

A. As mentioned previously, security remains a high priority throughout organizations. Upgrades and retrofits can help keep a facility safe and secure, while funding for new installations or overhauls is put on hold.

One of the easiest, least costly and most effective security upgrades can be achieved by installing magnetic locks. They're ideal for restricting unauthorized staff from entering sensitive areas, they function independently of any mechanical type locks and they do not jeopardize the fire door ratings. Maglocks are inherently fail safe and release instantly upon command or loss of power.

One kind of maglock is specifically designed for cabinets and drawers or pedestrian gates. These small but powerful magnetic locks can provide a holding force of up to 300 pounds and are capable of being controlled individually, sequentially or simultaneously from one or several locations.

Because of their confined magnetic field, they can be safely used in computer rooms and other electronically sensitive areas. These are all relatively inexpensive system improvements that can greatly enhance security within most facilities.

Q. What is driving development of new products in this economy?

A. At Dortronics, our mission is to completely fulfill any customer's needs related to door control hardware. This often results in the development of a custom new product that has mainstream appeal and application.

For instance, we received a request to design and manufacture an indicator that can be mounted near a card reader to clearly display when individual doors were open or locked. The problem arose at an installation where the LEDs on the card reader could not be seen at all times due to changing lighting conditions. We responded with a new series of high-intensity LED indicators that can clearly be seen in almost any lighting condition. Our intent was to provide this custom solution, but it turned out that it's a common problem faced by installers and has since become a mainstream product from Dortronics.

Another example includes interlocking applications or mantraps. Our in-house programmers can customize solutions for any application with our new 4900 Series intelligent interlock system. The unit's intelligent processor allows inputs and outputs to be easily reconfigured to meet the specific needs of the customer and the application.

The ability to custom program these devices provides a wide range of solutions for installations that have very distinct requirements.

Q. What trends do you foresee for 2010?

A. I have always believed the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. We have the manufacturing fl exibility, resources and core technologies in place to fulfill very specific requests from the field. This has been one of the cornerstones of Dortronics' continued success as we can react quickly to changing market conditions and requests. This has been and will continue to be a driving force at Dortronics because security projects cannot be kept on hold once the installation process has started. With the economy starting to turn the corner this fall, we anticipate that funding for more security projects will be approved.

We remain optimistic that 2010 will be a turn-around year for the security market and the economy as a whole.

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