Offering More than Products

Offering More than Products

Don’t miss the true nature of the mission

In the security industry, our mission is critical: protect the people, places and things that matter most. To succeed in this mission we must develop the most robust security offerings possible—be they doors and hardware, access control, video surveillance, or any other security competency that runs the gamut of our industry.

However, to focus on security alone is to miss the true nature of that mission statement. We don’t say “secure” the people, places and things that matter most—we say “protect.”

This, of course, is how we as an industry have evolved to include life safety components that go above and beyond code. It is how we introduced sustainable solutions to our product lines—not just as an offering, but as a critical component of the value chain.

It is why we seek to develop partnerships with our customers that last beyond just a sale. It is thinking about those types of partnerships where I offer a natural extension of our mission statement: to protect everyone, we need to engage more creatively with the communities we serve.

This is critical for everyone in security to consider. Whether you’re a manufacturer, integrator, locksmith, dealer, facility manager or other member of the security industry, your brand is dependent on building, maintaining and demonstrating trust. Showing community members who you are—through a genuine involvement in their interests— is not just good business, it is also good for our communities, our societies, and for us as individuals.

To that end I offer a different type of business case study than what we normally see in the security space: an example of how ASSA ABLOY has partnered with the USO.

Serving Government Sincerely

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in the United States Marine Corps for over 21 years. I retired as a Gunnery Sergeant with substantial deployment time within the Intelligence/Reconnaissance field. That said, military service members and their families are close to my heart. They are typically a hardworking and loyal community who appreciate the fundamental traits necessary to accomplish their daily mission.

ASSA ABLOY is a global organization that understands, cares about, and engages with its employees’ interests. When I asked that we begin supporting this community, ASSA ABLOY fully welcomed the idea, especially given how often we are supplying the very solutions that secure their new and existing facilities across the United States. I approached the local USO of North Carolina organization, which supports major military installations in North Carolina, such as Fort Bragg, MCAS Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune, and indicated that ASSA ABLOY was interested in finding a way to give back to the military community. We entered into the discussion as a team that was appreciative of what military members and their families sacrifice for our country and also grateful for the many years USO has been there to support the military community overall.

Rather than take a traditional approach to how we could help, we wanted to understand what services they offer in support of the troops, and be a part of what the USO calls “The Force Behind the Force.”

One seemingly simple need was unique and specific: soldiers awaiting their personal baggage to arrive while returning from, or heading to, a deployment are often left without some of the most basic items. That includes food, toiletries and other personal items. Filling these needs is often far from the mind of a military member during the complex and emotionally taxing process of a deployment. These same bags can also be used by personnel who have just enlisted and are transferring from their local Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) to boot camp.

The solution to this challenge is one of the most exciting things ASSA ABLOY does throughout the year: USO Backpack Builds at trade shows and other similar events.

At major trade shows we welcome everyone—members of our team, our business partners, visitors to the booth, and anyone else at the show—to help build backpacks filled with the essential items that can lighten the stress related to a deployment. To date, we have filled approximately 5,000 backpacks for our service members.

This, of course, is just one component to the partnership. In local communities across the country, we are engaging in fundraisers such as community runs and sponsor events such as U.S. Navy Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbird airshows.

This has transformed into a very personal experience for me as I now serve on the Advisory Board for the USO of North Carolina’s Charlotte Airport Center. It has been humbling to learn about how many events occur, and how much manpower is required, to execute the USO’s mission.

Government Relations through Genuine Partnerships

This is an extremely natural partnership as the security industry serves the government in a very inherent way. The people, places and functions involved in the critical and essential community services—from the military to a local fire district—need to be protected. Whether it is ensuring Personal Identity Verification compliant access control is installed at a federal facility or it is installing windstorm solutions at a fire station to allow first responders to mobilize after a storm, the government sector is a critical market for security professionals.

In terms of the military, there is an extended connection as the security industry tends to be a common landing spot for former and retired service members. ASSA ABLOY employs veterans, we work with partners who are veterans, and many of the integrators who rely on our solutions are veterans. It is, without a doubt, a group of individuals who are very important to us on a number of levels.

It is these very ingrained connections that make the partnership genuine. We want to serve this community sincerely. We want to serve them as providers of security, as providers of support, and often as providers of employment.

How to Engage in Your Community

As important as government work is, and as important as it is for us to seek out new customers, I share this story not as a brag, nor as means to an end. This is a call to action: find a community partnership of your own and fully engage in it.

Begin by identifying a cause that is important to you. While several industries look to align themselves with likeminded causes, the beauty of our industry is that security touches every part of a community. Further, the government sector connects in ways that are local, regional and national.

School districts and individual schools are always seeking help with fundraisers and other community events. Local governments rely heavily on community committees and volunteers to execute events and programs. Nonprofits in your region are always in need of able bodies. While not all of these may be government related— such as your local food bank, blood donation drive, or youth outreach group—you’ll often find the connections and the work are just as important.

And, of course, your local chapter of the USO is also likely to be interested in your support.

Just remember the government sector goes far beyond the federal or military level. When you engage in these types of partnerships, you are actively supporting local and municipal governments of all types: school boards, city councils, county commissioner boards, parks districts, or even local members of the military and elected officials who are also engaged with these groups.

If you do this with sincerity, it can be the first step in engaging with a government body for what may one day become a business partnership. That partnership will be based on honesty and a genuine understanding of the trust they can place in you.

Most critically, however, is that this process is how we build strong communities. Every person you connect with, every individual you help, and every dollar you spend is just another way your business is making the community better. That is a true fulfillment of protecting the people, places and things that matter most.

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

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