Q&A with Bob Lafrance, Vice-President Marketing and Sales with RCI FeaturedWritten by Jennifer Brown 20 April 2011
Bob Lafrance talks to SP&T News about Rutherford Controls Engineered Solutions Services.
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SP&T News: RCI is going to market with a new solutions-based approach — can you explain what that is and how it affects your partners?
Lafrance: Our Engineered Solutions Services approach is just an evolution of our overall business philosophy to make things easy for our customers. It involves talking directly to our customers, the installer or the end user about their access control or electrified locking problems, and working with them to develop a solution that will meet their specific needs.
The origin of the new approach started a couple of years ago when RCI made a decision to expand our product and service offerings in our OEM market segment. Our overall goal was to get in there and help customers in the small enclosure market who did not have solutions. We went out and acquired a company called Servocell out of the U.K., which specialized in low power piezo technology. The goal was to use the technology in our current product offerings and expand our line of electrified products for the cabinet and small enclosure locking market.
What we found was that customers in our regular business had problems too.
What we noticed was that more and more end users were looking for access control solutions that were not necessarily for their doors. They were looking to expand electrified locking into other parts of their business like mobile carts, cabinets, lockers and a number of other enclosures. The problem was that there were very few solutions developed to meet the needs of each individual situation.
We also found that that integrators and installers in our market segments were not getting this business. Either the end users were not asking their help or if they did, we found that most of the integrators we knew were walking away from opportunities since they were not familiar with any solution.
We started talking to these customers and letting them know we were there to help them take on this work, and from there, the concept of ESS just became part of our business in all of our market segments. What we found is that in a large number of situations, even when it comes to doors, the overall solution the end user is looking for does not always exists.
The idea was to help our integrators make more money and win more jobs. We wanted them to know we were there to help them take on more projects and the concept of ESS became part of our business in our other market segments.
SP&T: What is your goal with this new approach?
Lafrance: Our goal with this new approach is to get closer to our customer and to continue to offer services that differentiate us from our competition. We’re not the biggest so we needed to provide something our customer can really find value in. Right now we know that the market is still weak and that our customers and installers are walking away from business that they don't believe they can support or find a solution for.
Our plan is that if we can help them find a solution for their customers then they will grow their business or they’ll make more money with their existing business. Once you help a customer with the financial aspects of their business you become a more integrated part of their business. In a nutshell, we end up being the manufacturer that customers call when they need help to solve their problems. That transcends the normal customer/supplier relationship.
SP&T News: Can you provide some examples of how you are already working with partners in this way?
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