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Security Locksmith & Design named Medeco Security Centre

Locksmithing is a time-honoured tradition with thousands of years of history behind it, but for Brian and Carol-Anne Lovell, the brother and sister team behind Toronto-based Security Locksmith & Design Ltd., it’s the last five decades that matter the most.



December 19, 2008
By Neil Sutton

Their grandfather started the company back in 1950, initially under the name Pollock Locksmith.

Brian worked for him as a kid and became a full-time service technician
in 1977. From there, “he slowly brought me off the road to learn the
operations side,” says Brian. “In 1985 he retired and I purchased the
company.”

In the years since, Brian has grown the company, moving it to its
present location at the corner of Richmond and Bathurst in downtown
Toronto, adding a second storey to the new facility, and amassing a
client base not only in Ontario, but coast to coast.

Most recently, that growth has been facilitated by a burgeoning
relationship with Medeco. In 2008, SLD was named a Medeco Security
Centre
(MSC) – one of seven such institutions in Canada. MSCs are a
select group of dealers given the highest approval rating by the
company. They also receive special training and priority access to
certain product sets.

According to Carol Hall, financial and operations manager at Waterloo,
Ont.-based Medeco Canada, “We want them to be dedicated Medeco dealers.
They have to hit a certain sales amount volume within a year. They’re
basically handpicked by Medeco. . . . We try to help their business out
while they’re helping us out.

Brian says he started working with the Medeco brand in the 1970s and the relationship with the company blossomed over time.

“We’re among the best of the best,” he says, with a measure of pride.
“Ninety per cent of our customers today have Medeco somewhere in their
facility. There are other quality product lines out there, but our
philosophy was, you can’t do a good job for everybody. Also from a
inventory/cost perspective, you can’t fill your shelves with
everybody’s product.”

Specializing in one vendor’s products also helps keep things simple,
says Brian. From a training perspective, his employees can specialize
on Medeco products and hone their expertise. “If they’re clearly
focused on one product, they become very familiar with it and
confident.”

At press time, there were six MSCs in Ontario and one in Alberta.
Medeco plans to expand that in the 2009 timeframe, adding more bulk in
Ontario and possibly an MSC in B.C.

“It’s not something we open up and just say, ‘Hey, do you want to
become an MSC?’ We don’t want a whole whack of them across the country.
We want to have a few select dealers in certain areas,” says Hall.

The existing seven MSCs meet for training purposes, to share information and best practices, says Brian.

“We get together and go through different scenarios, different problems
in our security industry – things that we need to, as a group, try to
work on. That puts us on a level playing field. Really, we’re not
competitors to one another.”


SLD is also tapped into a network of 78 dealers through its connections with Medeco, enabling the company to sell nationwide.

With a recent job for a financial services client, SLD was able to
provide product and service for 5,300 locations by plugging into this
dealer network. The work is handed out on a subcontract basis, and SLD
is able to pick and choose the dealers it wants to work with.

“The advantage of having a network is we can pick a particular dealer
to fit the needs of that client. It’s been extremely successful,” says
Carol-Anne Lovell.

Brian says that a dealer network is a reliable and cost-effective way
of expanding SLD’s business – more effective than, say, trying to open
an office in another city or province.

“It’s a great way to grow our business. It’s a great way to get
awareness out there. It spreads. You start with a couple, and then it’s
like dominoes.’

It also helps to get the word out about SLD. “Ninety-nine per cent of
our business comes from referral because of our history and longevity
in the industry.

“To me, there is no better kind of business relationship than a
referral. If someone’s been referred to you, you’ve got to do a good
job because otherwise the person that referred you is going to be
dissatisfied. We’re getting compliments back from our customers.
There’s no better reward than hearing that.”

Since taking over the company, Brian and his sister have positioned it as more than just a locksmith operation.

They have access to Assa Abloy’s complete product set (parent company
of Medeco) and are also making some moves in the camera market,
supplying mostly analogue equipment (currently Pelco and GE) as part of
a complete security solution. Brian estimates that about 10 per cent of
SLD’s business is camera surveillance but that could grow to 20 or 30
per cent before long.

“We’re not active in marketing (cameras) in the field – it’s more
client related – but f we let a client know that this is something we
offer, they tend to give us a kick at the can,” says Brian.

Part of the reason for the product expansion is that locksmithing is
becoming somewhat antiquated, he says. The idea that a man with a bag
of tools will fix your lock is losing ground. Most customers would
rather just replace a malfunctioning lock.

“People don’t have the patience to indulge a lock being fixed multiple times.”

One solution to that problem is a hybrid offering from Medeco that is
finding favour with SLD’s clientele: Medeco Logic, based on Assa
Abloy’s Cliq technology, is a dual credential key system that uses an
encrypted electronic ID in addition to the traditional mechanical
system of lock cylinders and keys.

Like an access control system, it can log people that are using the
lock (the last 1,000), so an administrator can know who entered and
exited a building or room and when. It doesn’t require electricity to
operate and it’s also reprogrammable, so if someone loses a key, you
don’t have to replace a lock and issue new keys.

SLD has sold it to several clients, including the Ontario College of
Pharmacists. “They had vintage frames and doors, so they didn’t want a
hardwired access system,” says Carol-Anne.

“The beauty of it is, if they move, all we have to do is remove their
cylinders and reinstall them in a new location. You’re not leaving holes in
the drywall or anything like that.”