How ABLOY USA’s New Channel Partner Program Came to Fruition
Find out how Managing Director Jerry Burhans has endeavored to create a channel for ABLOY’s critical infrastructure wares in the U.S.
For more than 45 years, ABLOY, a division of ASSA ABLOY Group, has been specializing in the design and manufacture of high-security locking systems for market niches across the critical infrastructure realm.
In those decades as a global leader in mechanical and electro-mechanical locks, the Finland-based company lacked an important go-to-market facet in the United States: a channel program that caters specifically to security dealers and systems integrators. That changed last week with the launch of an authorized partner program under the auspices of ABLOY USA, based in Irving, Texas.
Jerry Burhans, who was appointed managing director of ABLOY USA in December 2018, is responsible for business development and implementation of the division’s strategic actions to accelerate sales growth. He tells SSI the new partner program has been built from the ground up, as it were, and is anchored by an “ABLOY competence center.”
“We actually have software engineer support to handle API integrations and SDKs and that type of thing, because in critical infrastructure you have a multitude of third-party products,” Burhans explains. “We also brought on sales engineering to make sure when we’re in the pre-sales stage, we really understand what the customer or client wants and needs.”
U.S.-based integrator support for the company’s wares will include diagnostics and testing, as well as customization for the new Bluetooth-enabled ABLOY BEAT padlock and CLIQ electromechanical key systems. There will be assistance for estimating, budgeting, planning and systems design. Other program features include demo kits for some of ABLOY’s most advanced technologies, support at end-user events, sales literature on critical infrastructure, lead generation and more.
‘Feet on the Street’
ABLOY was founded more than 110 years ago and today operates in 90 countries with 20 field offices. In many of those global regions, the selling is consummated direct to the end customer. Of course, in the U.S. the sales process can be far more layered. Hence, the need to create a channel to more efficiently market the company’s products and solutions here.
Since joining the company Burhans has hired vertical market managers and signed on independent sales reps to build the business unit’s presence in the security industry. A key focus of his has been to foster distribution partnerships, including with Anixter, among other value-added distributors that serve “hybrid” resellers in the locksmith space.
All the channel-building toils to this point were intended to set the table for a hard launch of the authorized partner program at ISC West 2020, which has been postponed until July due to the coronavirus crisis. Nonetheless, the work to create pull-through continues.
“We’re out there with our feet on the street, the independent sales reps and the vertical market managers, talking to the end users,” Burhans says, “and then also talking to the top integrators and local markets to find out if they’re interested in our products or if they see a need for our products.”
Burhans says ABLOY USA’s objective is to target “those top 100 integrators” with national accounts and existing vendor relationships with leading manufacturers from the access control and video surveillance sectors.
“Do they need to be a lock technician or a locksmith? No, because whether they’re selling Lenel, Software House or another [electronic access control] system, they may have electricians or technicians on staff,” Burhans says. “Most of them aren’t going to do locks and that’s really not what we want them to do. We don’t want them to be a lock specialist. We need them to sell the concept of technology, like a Bluetooth padlock. With a Bluetooth padlock you’re dealing with software, a mobile app.”
ABLOY BEAT was also to have received its official U.S. launch at ISC West and correspond with the unveiling of the channel partner program. The new keyless solution combines three main components: a digital key, a mobile application and an IP68-rated, heavy-duty Bluetooth padlock. All is managed with the visual ABLOY OS user interface.
The BEAT can be integrated with existing security systems or it can also be utilized as a standalone locking solution with the ABLOY OS. The operating system is said to facilitate managing keys, locks and access rights on-the-go and remotely from a single GUI. The solution was designed with input from critical infrastructure end users that were seeking a locking system that provided dual authentication and a full audit trail.
Having the début of BEAT — the first global release of a product in the company’s venerable history — correspond with the introduction of the new channel partner program amounts to fortuitous timing for ABLOY USA, Burhans says.
“I’ve been in the security industry for a long time. I’ve sold some interesting products, some cool products and bleeding edge, and stuff that’s been around forever,” he says. “This is a mix of all of that. You’ve got a 110-year-old manufacturer, a big company, big ideas, but nimble enough here in the U.S. to listen to the voice of the customer and localize it.”
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