Samsung Makes Bid to Become Security Big Shot
In a wide-ranging interview, Frank Defina, senior vice president of sales at Samsung Techwin America, speaks candidly about the challenges the company faces as it executes new channel strategies to carve out a leadership role in the ever-competitive North American video surveillance market.
As the world’s largest electronics company Samsung has earned a rarified level of trust from legions of consumers who helped the company post revenues exceeding $117 billion in 2009.
Yet despite continued efforts throughout the past several years to create a footprint for its video surveillance products, Samsung’s immense brand loyalty has not transferred well to the North American electronic security market.
Not yet, anyway.
With a renewed commitment from its corporate parent in Korea, Samsung’s efforts to become a more focused player in North America began in earnest earlier this year. Its first maneuver was to unify multiple incarnations of its namesake used in differing product lines and distribution representation, all of which had resulted in considerable channel confusion.
Namely, the video security products division of Samsung Electronics was merged into the Samsung Techwin business and now operates as Samsung Techwin America. GVI Security Solutions – which once represented the Samsung Electronics business and its CCTV products – now serves as Samsung Techwin America’s master distributor.
To lead its ambitious efforts in competing for a much larger piece of the North American market, former security and surveillance industry veteran Frank Defina was tapped to serve as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Samsung Techwin America.
Following a 26-year career at Panasonic, rising through its ranks to become president of Panasonic System Solutions, Defina departed the company in 2008. He joined Samsung in February and immediately set out to build an executive team comprised of seasoned industry pros, including Frank Abram, who serves as director of business development.
SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION recently spent time with Defina, discussing his plans for developing a series of sales initiatives that will focus on driving commercial business to the company’s authorized integrator partners. Another priority of his will be developing partnerships to broaden Samsung’s capacity to integrate its products with other vendors’ technologies.
A More Unified Company
How do you view Samsung’s current position in the marketplace?
Defina: Worldwide we are doing OK as far as market share. In the U.S. market we are not well known. To me the opportunity is in North America. We should be in the top 5, at least, as a target.
The head of our company in Korea has made it very clear he wants to be a significant player worldwide. We are already doing very well in countries like China, and we are getting a stronger foothold in Europe. But everybody realizes that North America is the market we really need to win. Winning doesn’t necessarily mean owning or totally taking over, but certainly a consistent, steady path of growth. We want to be one of the top players in the market.
What was your immediate task at hand upon joining the company?
Defina: I came in here and I said ‘what a great, strong brand.’ But it is not a strong brand in the security business. So my first goal was to really leverage the Samsung name and to build a company and a product line that is worthy of the Samsung name.
The main thing we needed to achieve first was unify the products and that has been accomplished. We spent most of our time consolidating the product line. It’s all about execution now.
Do you still contend with the market confusion surrounding the Samsung branding and GVI’s role?
Defina: Very much so. I hear many times about the multiple Samsungs, but the easiest way to understand it is we have had, and will continue to maintain, a strategic partnership with GVI Security. GVI is a master distributor. They are authorized by Samsung to distribute products. Their team works with the distribution channel and we sell to them, so they are also our customer.
My group of people I hired is focused on the Samsung Strategic Integrators [SSI] channel. Keep in mind we have no financial connection to GVI. They are not a subsidiary of Samsung. But they are a very valuable strategic partner for us. They are the face of Samsung to the distribution channel.
You’re taking better strides to win market share, but don’t you feel Samsung is arriving to the party a little late?
Defina: I do think there is some truth to that. I also believe we have to prove ourselves to the market. We can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re Samsung, we’re in the CCTV business, start buying from us.’ We have to go through the motions that every company goes through. I very much manage the company as an upstart. So I am not assuming that any sales are going to happen without hard work.
I’m not assuming that the education market, for example, knows about us. I’m just telling everybody here to act like we’re a new company. Act like we have a story to tell and go out there as if you were building this company from scratch. That focuses us in the right direction. That puts us in a position where we’re telling people we want to earn your business; not, ‘We deserve your business because we’re Samsung.’
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