Boon Edam President Valerie Anderson Talks Changing Security Entrance Landscape & More
New Boon Edam President and Managing Director Valerie Anderson discusses how access control has changed since 9/11, industry trends and much more.
SECURE Perspectives is a monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum, an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, networking and professional growth events and thought leadership opportunities.
For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Valerie Anderson, the new president and managing director of Boon Edam, the Americas subsidiary of Royal Boon Edam, about her role within the company, industry trends and the expanding diversity of the security workforce.
How does your organization serve the industry?
Boon Edam is a manufacturer of security turnstiles, security revolving doors and security mantrap portals. For us, it’s the full customer experience that is the output of our work, versus just a product alone. We truly move in step with our customers and partners, acting in a consultative role to ensure we are providing the right solutions to fit our customers’ needs.
For us, the sale is just the beginning of our interaction with the customer for many years to come. After the product is installed, we continue to work with the customer to ensure we have met their expectations and to help them prepare for their future security goals as their needs change.
There have been times when our customers, when looking at our security entrance solutions, were not ready for a higher security solution that had higher upfront costs but a greater return on investment (ROI). In these cases, it is often a cultural decision as well as budget decision; therefore, we listen and provide a solution that is more appropriate for their current pain points and work alongside them to implement a plan so they can upgrade to something with higher security in the future.
For us, it is critically important to understand the customer’s needs before trying to sell a product. We work as a solutions company — and the ultimate solution we provide is an insurance for companies. The products and services we provide give the C-suite peace of mind knowing their people and buildings are protected.
What is your current role?
One of my biggest challenges as president of Boon Edam is protecting the position we have built in the market as the entry leader. In recent years we have done a phenomenal job at establishing our position as the security entrance experts, even with multiple competitors in this space. My mission here is to work with our business development managers to make sure when we meet with each customer, we have the skills and expertise to bring a consultative approach to the sale. To do that, we must always understand the customer’s entire scope so we can find the best solution to resolve their pain points.
In my earlier roles at Boon Edam here in the Americas, working with the business development team, I worked closely with customers, which provided me considerable insight about how our customers perceive value. In my new role as president, managing all facets of our commercial organization, it’s important to share this insight with our operations teams. I am passionate about strengthening the integration of our commercial organization with all business units within Boon Edam, which will help us to provide a seamless experience that goes beyond product sales to a full solution that includes installation and support — a complete, turnkey solution for life of the product.
What types of job functions do women fill in your company? Is there diversity of roles in your company, or do women gravitate toward certain job functions?
Our commercial organization is about 60% male, 40% female. And our females hold a wide range of important positions — anywhere from sales and customer support to management, human resources, finance and marketing. We have a diverse group between all assets.
With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in sales roles serving the security industry? What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?
I think there are many opportunities for women in the security industry. I remember attending my first security trade show and experiencing firsthand some of the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. To survive and thrive in this industry, I had to set my mind to learning as much as I could about what mattered for security market customers. As I grew my knowledge of the industry, this allowed me to gain a better understanding of how manufacturers such as Boon Edam could improve both security and operational results for those customers.
I do not see any impediments that would prevent women from achieving success in this industry. If the industry continues to support women in the market and through networking associations and the desire from women to grow in the industry is present, it will yield positive results. I can only speak from my experience and those I have had the privilege of knowing in this industry; when you are open to learning and increasing your intellectual capacity about the industry you serve, you establish relevance. Relevance and engagement in the industry yield connections with people and opportunities to grow your network and your skill set. But you’ve first got to be willing to put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone
What do you see as important trends in the industry?
The landscape has changed significantly over the last 20 years. There is better awareness of the risk of tailgating and better awareness today of security entrance solutions and how they work.
Before 9/11, most buildings had swinging doors, and only a small percentage of those buildings had doors integrated with access control systems; this setup was completely trusting and based on the “honor system.” Security managers trusted that no one would tailgate or that employees would prevent others from tailgating with them. We demonstrated our security revolving door, the Tourlock, in our booth at ASIS in 2006 — and most people were not familiar with them at that time. We demonstrated how a security revolving door stopped tailgating and piggybacking without the need to solely rely on guards and the honor system, and it really opened their eyes.
The impact of 9/11 made people realize the need for heightened security measures. This new awareness has created the demand for barriers of some type, be they simple turnstiles, optical turnstiles, security revolving doors or mantrap portals. The question “Who is in your building?” started great discussions about preventing intrusion and how you go about doing that with the combination of technology, physical security entrances, people and processes.
There is also a trend towards strengthening authentication. Ten years ago, most security entrances were integrated with simple radio-frequency identification card readers. At that time, only very high-security facilities used two-factor authentication with a secondary PIN code and perhaps some type of biometric technology. Today, clients are looking for cost-effective biometric solutions, even for single-factor authentication, to enhance both security and throughput. Clients today are also opting for full-prevention security entrances with features such as bullet-resistant glass, which can potentially save lives and buy time during an incident.
More specifically, what trends are you seeing in your company’s space of manufacturing revolving doors and security barriers?
A key trend is more seamless integration of security entrances with credential and identity verification technologies, in addition to the gathering of the potential data that can be had from security entrances.
The best examples are security entrances that outright prevent tailgating and piggybacking, are integrated with access control and also include biometric technology to verify identity. These whole solutions work consistently to such a high degree that they provide access with strong security, even when guards are not present.
A great example is our Circlelock mantrap portal — you must present a credential for the portal to unlock. Once the user has stepped in to prove they are alone and not attempting to help a tailgating or piggybacking event to occur, the individual then presents a secondary credential to a technology device, such as a biometric reader. Once the two acts have been validated, then and only then can you enter a facility.
That same door can tell you based on data what the chances are of an intruder successfully piggybacking in at any time, how many attempts to piggyback happened, who it was, what time it happened and so on — a lot of rich data that can prove the ROI and help management better manage their people and their liability.
What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?
Our customers are highly aware of risks to their businesses, and they are just starting to really internalize the links between physical security, cybersecurity and potential operational improvements. One of our greatest challenges recently has been to help each customer strike the perfect balance to achieve their security objectives while also realizing the potential architectural, aesthetic and operational improvements that can be made at the same time.
In general, security managers want high security performance from security entrances, and operational management wants high aesthetics and fast throughput. Today we can provide sleek designs and integration with all access controls systems that keep people moving quickly and effortlessly while maintaining high security performance.
What are the biggest opportunities your company and the industry are seeing?
Technology is growing and changing at a rapid pace within the security industry and beyond. Our mission as a solutions provider is to leverage this evolution in every way possible. To that end, we are always researching new integrations with emerging technologies like credential verification systems, biometrics and access control, which provide rich data that can be measured to deliver meaningful insights.
We are always mindful that security is seen as a cost center, so we want to give our customers a solution that goes beyond security to help manage and optimize their business operations. The future is exciting for Boon Edam. With our strong position in the security entrance market and our goals to continue to achieve product leadership, customer confidence and operational excellence, you will continue to see Boon Edam grow and transform to meet the changing security needs of our customers and the industry.
What do you hope the Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?
I hope the Women in Security Forum can help increase the number of women in senior management roles in the security industry.
Clearly, this will take time, but we need to start now. As women gain more experience and increase their knowledge of the industry, they often become even more passionate about security and what it can do to improve our society. When people have a strong work ethic and passion for the potential for such impact, it changes how they approach the work. The Women in Security Forum is in an ideal position to foster collaboration and learning among women and their supporters in the industry.
What advice would you give women in the industry?
If you have the will, there is a way. Be open to learning new things. Consider helping on special projects that are outside your normal work tasks. Find a company and a position where you can be engaged and build connections with people, and then seize opportunities to network and grow.
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