Grow Your Business

Grow Your Business

Meeting government requirements can be challenging

Doing business with the government—federal, state or even local—can be very difficult. The regulations, the paperwork, the unique needs and buying cycles are all tough requirements that have to be met. It can make for a complicated scene, but it’s also a vitally important business that can be financially rewarding despite the challenges.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of door and hardware products, services and solutions. And that’s why ASSA ABLOY hired a group dedicated to helping distributors and dealers navigate the challenges of the government space—and grow their businesses.

“We have an experienced government team that can help in top line sales growth beyond administrative support,” said Jeff Huggins, director of government programs for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “We’ve built our program with a ground-up approach, meaning our focus is about demand generation at the local level.”

ASSA ABLOY unveiled the group about two years ago, bringing in Huggins to head it up. With him came two senior professionals who hit the ground running. The government group, which Huggins said is a relatively new vertical market focus for ASSA ABLOY, provides door and hardware solutions, as well as perimeter security and identification technology to federal and state government agencies, including large Department of Defense and VA Medical Centers around the world. The group also serves local jurisdictions, rounding out its complete approach to the governmental sector.

“From a market perspective, I would put it into federal, state and local,” Huggins said. “The reason we categorize our program this way is that each have specific product needs, but all have similar bidding and documentation requirements to be met as spenders of taxpayer dollars.”

A significant part of the focus of the Government Programs team is supporting its partners with a wide range of services specific to dealers and resellers working in the government sector. Huggins said the group assists dealers who have state contracts or General Services Administration federal contracts.

“We don’t own our own schedule, but what we do is we support our partners,” he said. “There’s a formal process called the GSA letter of supply. We support our dealer partners who have the schedules, and we provide them with all the letters of supply.”

ASSA ABLOY’s government group also has all of the product compliance programs necessary to ensure that its products meet Buy America and other similar regulations. Huggins said everyone on his team has managed GSA and/or state contracts before, in addition to their government sales experience, something that can be incredibly useful to ASSA ABLOY’s partners, including those on the distribution end of the deal.

“That’s how we’re able to help our distribution,” Huggins said. “We know what they need to do paperwork-wise, so we’re very proactive to try to make it as easy for them as possible.”

Another offering from the Government Programs team, are its field-level and end-user training programs. Huggins said they’ll also provide overviews of government contracts and educate partners on how to navigate the entire process of landing government business at any level. The latter is something ASSA ABLOY’s government team did at the 2015 Medeco Security Center Sales Conference in Orlando.

“We’ll do general sessions and breakout sessions to help them understand,” he said. “We’ll bring in the Small Business Administration (SBA). We’ll teach them how important that is, how to go find the SBA, how to register, just to help them capture business in the government space.”

Product-wise, Huggins said the government team has three primary areas of focus at present. First off, ASSA ABLOY is participating with the Department of Defense on a sustainable door opening demonstration project. The team has been working with the military to install energy-efficient versions of hollow metal doors, frames, and hardware.

“It’s basically a hollow metal, steel-stiffened metal door, filled with a foam insulation that helps support the thermal performance and air infiltration of the opening assembly” he said. ASSA ABLOY has also been seeing more interest and demand for specialty doors, including doors that are resistant to forced entry, ballistics, blasts, sound and other forms of attack.

“Those are becoming more and more relevant in just about every setting, whether it’s a school system or a military installation or a downtown federal building—whatever,” Huggins added. “It’s something that can’t be ignored.”

The third new product area in the government realm is wireless and Power-over-ethernet locks with integrated readers. ASSA ABLOY’s offerings include the IN120 and the IN220 lines. These products have been enhanced with the capability to read the federal government identification card known as a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card. The lock and reader technology are integrated into a single device, which will not only make the operation more efficient, but more affordable, as well.

The company’s innovative systems have yet to launch officially, but Huggins said they will be soon.

In fact, the technology is already gathering attention. At this year’s ISC West security show, the HES 1500/1600 Electric Strike Platform received a Platinum GOVIES Award in the Access Control category, presented by Security Today for technology achievements in the government sector. Also in Access Control, the ASSA ABLOY IN220 Power over Ethernet Lock won a Gold GOVIES award, and the Adams Rite 8800 Series Narrow Stile Rim Exit Device received a Gold GOVIES award. In the GOVIES Fire & Life Safety category, the ASSA ABLOY, Attack Resistant Door Opening earned a Platinum award.

Moving forward, Huggins said the government team will continue evolving, something that it’s done continuously since it launched. Education and awareness have been increased, and the team is working ever more closely with manufacturing plants on product compliance to meet strict federal regulations. The ground-up approach is one that the team will continue to take, focusing on the local teams needs while ensuring we understand all of the necessary compliance requirements relevant to the public market.

“We are laser-focused on our ability to support publicly-funded projects,” Huggins said. “Our focus on being able to align ourselves with the procurement objectives of the government—federal, state or local—are very important to our program, and to the success of our customers.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Security Today.

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