Meeting of the Minds

Like most worthwhile enterprises, the security industry is made up of numerous valuable partnerships. I never paid that much attention to partnerships until about 10 years ago when I leaped from Associate Publisher to Editor-in-Chief of this magazine. Then it seemed like Company A was doing business with Company B, and Company C liked what it saw and wanted to join in.

Partnerships make for a good marriage.

Speaking of marriage, I spent a few days in beautiful upstate New York at the end of July for an unusual family reunion. Call it an Italian wedding and reunion, if you will.

My gracious host for the event was Lenel Systems International, whose team introduced me to Mercury Security Corp., an organization with whom Lenel has had a long and distinguished history. It all started about 16 years ago when the two companies discovered they were good for each other in marketing a hardware platform (Mercury) for the On Guard access control system software (Lenel). But like some marriages, things sort of got crossways.

Critical to this marriage were the “23,000 children” in more than 90 countries, who have benefitted from the union. These end users were never really affected by the disagreements because, as happens in a truly joint partnership, the children were always looked after. Who are these children, or end users? They include Ebay, Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Chevron and several higher education campuses. In fact, 92 of the Fortune 100 companies employ Lenel security solutions, but who’s counting?

Enter Joe Kirmser. New to the strategic Lenel management plan. Kirmser has been president for only five months, but a year ago he saw the opportunity of saddling back up with Mercury. It was time to put the legal battles and turf disagreements to rest.

Kirmser said he knows where he wants to take the company, and he doesn’t want to make the trip without Mercury. Kirmser is still a young guy who doesn’t lack for good judgment and the ability to seek the wisdom of Mercury CEO Frank Gasztonyi, who also wanted to get the relationship back in good order.

“People sometimes get lost in the mix during periods of significant organizational and market change,” Kirmser said. “Sometimes people lose sight of the valuable partnerships that have been developed over time. Relationships are critical and deserve attention.”

On July 2, Mercury signed a long-term agreement with Lenel to continue providing access control hardware. Following the agreement, Mercury participated in Paradigm for the first time ever, which sent a strong signal about the importance of the relationship and the new commitment to growth by partnering with one another. Paradigm is an annual consulting event for the most influential security consultants in the industry The event is held in Rochester, N.Y.

Gasztonyi, who as Mercury’s co-founder was an originator of the Lenel partnership all those years ago, said he was pleased and excited to announce the relationship’s renewal and looked forward to enhancing product lines with Lenel over the next decade.

Both companies have work to do; they admit that, but thankfully, the leadership has come to terms in a full strategic vision for the future. What seems evident to me, and Gasztonyi validated this, was that Kirmser was motivated to restore the relationship and that both internal leadership groups were able to compromise on strategy.

“What we have together is a winning formula for the customer,” Kirmser said. “Together, we’re better for the customer. Together, there will be more exciting things happening.”

What I took away from Paradigm is that Lenel and Mercury want to provide scalable integrated security solutions, enabling their customers to effectively protect and manage their people, property and assets. Plus, both companies have a vision to effectively collaborate with their consultants.

Here is the real key: “We do not want to be arrogant but certainly proud in what we do and confident in our abilities to execute our strategy and solve big problems,” Kirmser said.

He cited several qualities that will drive the company vision, including demanding solution flexibility and providing value-add services and applications. Kirmser also said the customers deserve the best of breed when integrating access control and video software, and they deserve the best product quality for command and control for security or in the overall facility.

Let’s face it. The security business is built around technology and the genius that many people bring to the table. An open architecture will provide companies the opportunity to blend their solutions together, forming key partnerships to the benefit of the end user. It’s all about understanding the strengths of the partnership and healing the weaknesses as a team.

Now that the nuptials are recorded, it’s time for the party to begin in earnest. May there be many happy returns.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Security Today.

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