ASSA ABLOY New Haven Visit Illuminates Company’s Pedigree
ASSA ABLOY welcomed Security Sales & Integration to New Haven to discuss its history, its competitive differentiators and its product array.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — ASSA ABLOY, born in 1994 when parent companies ASSA and Abloy came together, boasts an enviable portfolio of access solutions brands. Indeed, the organization owns Sargent, Corbin Russwin and numerous other recognized leaders.
Sargent is particularly relevant to our story, as the New Haven campus, which Security Sales & Integration recently visited, traces its lineage to Joseph Bradford Sargent, who founded his namesake company in 1864. (Sargent became part of the ASSA ABLOY family in 1996.)
During my recent tour of the factory floor and grounds, I gained insight into what makes the 52,000-person global organization special. In particular, the experience illuminated ASSA ABLOY’s company culture, core values and rigorous testing and standards, as well as the team’s commitment to bring about a safer, more secure world.
ASSA ABLOY Has Notable Diversity
Laura Fradette, director of marketing communications, electronic access control, Door Security Solutions, underscores ASSA ABLOY’s dynamism and scope.
“Globally, we have [numerous] divisions that have a very diverse range of products for different applications,” she observes.
Between those divisions, the organization provides solutions for everything from door-dense environments like schools and office buildings, to locker solutions for transportation hubs and other spaces, to revolving doors for corporate settings, to access solutions for loading docks and airport hangars.
What’s more, ASSA ABLOY is constantly acquiring new companies to meet emerging needs; indeed, the organization is now nearly 25 times larger than it was back in 1994.
One might think that pace of growth could be corrosive to company culture, but the opposite is true. Fradette, whose tenure at ASSA ABLOY is 13 years and counting, cites the culture as a magnet for top talent. “For me and many of my colleagues, it really is what has kept us here as long as we have been.”
Fradette describes the pillars of that culture as twofold: First is a profound respect for one another and a desire to see each other succeed. Equally impactful, however, is the mission-driven mindset that pervades ASSA ABLOY.
“We all feel a very strong commitment to what we do,” she says. “Knowing that we keep children and other people safe every day adds to the value of our job. We feel like there’s real purpose to what we do.”
Working With Purpose
Working with purpose, amid a culture of collaboration, shone brightly during the hour-plus factory tour. Our guide, Allan Saunders, a 50-plus-year veteran of Sargent, emphasized the multi-decade, multi-generational nature of the workforce in New Haven.
As we walked the factory floor, we regularly found people who’d been working there for 30, 35 or 40 years, as well as those who recruited their spouses, siblings, children and other family members to join them.
Saunders delved into some of the factors that inspired Joseph Bradford Sargent to set down roots in New Haven more than 150 years ago — namely, steamboat ports, railroads and the proximity of Yale — and underlined that, today, Sargent (and by extension ASSA ABLOY) is part of the fabric of Connecticut. In fact, its pedigree and depth of history in the state is one of the organization’s finest assets.
ASSA ABLOY and UL Accreditation
Another key asset is ASSA ABLOY’s participation in the UL Data Acceptance Program (DAP). This refers to UL certifying the organization to perform its own tests to UL standards.
Ryan Sullivan, manager of codes and compliance, notes that ASSA ABLOY is empowered to perform not only the tests that some of its competitors might perform but also electrical and electromechanical testing, environmental testing, finish testing and more.
Moreover, the public can visit verify.UL.com and see for themselves detailed information about ASSA ABLOY’s products, cycle tests, test protocols, etc.
Joking that his team and he are “very good at paperwork,” Sullivan says, each year, UL performs a weeklong audit to ensure test technician proficiency, correct test execution and orderly calibration records.
UL DAP participation, Sullivan adds, bolsters ASSA ABLOY in its research and development, too.
“All of our R&D is done on the same machines that we certify on,” he says. “So, in the pre-production process, we know how it’s going to hold up.”
Typically, ASSA ABLOY’s engineering requirements are, at minimum, 25% over Grade 1 standards. However, actual product performance frequently far exceeds that. In fact, Sullivan alluded to one recent test in which the standard was no failure before 500,000 cycles; during factory testing, however, the ASSA ABLOY product made it to 14.5 million cycles before failing.
It’s unsurprising, then, that ASSA ABLOY is very heavily involved in the standards-writing committees with UL and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA).
ASSA ABLOY Innovation Showroom in New Haven
The ASSA ABLOY New Haven office features an Innovation Showroom where, by appointment, tours are available for dealers, integrators, building owners, architects and others.
According to Gary Jacques, EM Assoc – applications engineer and technical support team leader, the Innovation Showroom is especially valuable for channel partners because it helps “get them comfortable with what we do and the products that we offer.” He adds, “Therefore, they’re comfortable spec’ing and using our products.”
Jacques references the “red carpet tour” that ASSA ABLOY salespeople give their customers and prospects. “People come through and get very excited about our products,” he says with a smile. Most of the time, it results in a fruitful relationship coming to blossom.
As someone who’s still getting fully up to speed on access solutions and industry leaders like ASSA ABLOY, I was impressed by the expansive product range in the Innovation Showroom.
The walking tour highlighted everything from ballistic-resistant doors, to tornado-resistant doors, to smart doors compatible with smart devices, to wireless locking devices, to electromagnetic locks rated up to 4,000lb. of force. The conversation, however, centered firmly on people — our needs and the communal spaces we occupy.
“Residence halls, for example, on a college campus, are very door-dense environments where you want to have access control,” Fradette explains. “But to run wiring to all those doors would be very expensive and time-consuming.”
Wi-Fi locks, she says, are perfect for that kind of application. “Our Aperio wireless locks give you the convenience of wireless but also offer real-time communication,” Fradette continues. “Classroom doors are an example of a good application for Aperio, because [the solution] offers the ease and affordability of wireless as well as the ability to do remote or local lockdown.”
An Organization Driven by Commitment
As an organization, ASSA ABLOY is driven by commitment — commitment to core values and commitment to the broader community. Its sustainability core value manifests in its pursuit of GreenCircle certification, for example, but also in ASSA ABLOY’s supply-chain management.
“We make sure we’re working with partners that have the same values we do,” Fradette declares. “[We make sure] they’re very transparent about the materials they’re using.”
The organization holds itself to equally high standards. For example, its facility in Berlin, Conn., generates more than 75% of its own power through a solar farm on the property. Again, it ties back to being a good community member there in Connecticut — and here in our society.
All of us can agree that doors are everywhere, a fact that means we have constant touchpoints with ASSA ABLOY, its brands and its products.
To make those touchpoints impactful, the organization strives to deliver protection and security while, at the same time, paying mindful attention to a graceful, elegant design sensibility. That latter point ensures that, even as the products provide protection and security, you never feel penned in.
“That’s ASSA ABLOY’s mission,” Fradette concludes. “[It’s] to create a safer, more open world by creating that sense of freedom and safety.”
That means, if you’re in a classroom, you can focus on learning. It means, if you’re a patient, you can focus on healing. And it means all of us — in our homes and in our shared spaces — can work, play and rest easier.
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