In April 2014, access control technology and security service provider Matrix Systems Inc., Miamisburg, Ohio, launched a technology division named Frontier. That may not be newsworthy in and of itself, but the creation of Frontier marks a new trend of selling security products through a network of authorized information technology (IT) resellers and electrical contractors.
“What we realized is that there is a great synergy between the company’s goals of expanding the geographical reach of its products and electrical contractors’ need for flexible enterprise security solutions to offer to their customers,” said Jeremy Krinitt, Frontier’s general manager.
The security market provides contractors with the opportunity to build long-term, ongoing relationships with end-users, which could lead to additional work, including maintenance and service revenue streams, according to Steven Feldman, director of Spectrum Integrated Technologies, the technology division of J&M Brown Co. Inc., Jamaica Plain, Mass., and an electrical contractor that is in discussions with Frontier.
“Partnering with a security provider could enable a contractor to build a long-lasting relationship that would provide opportunities to install additional security devices, as well as gain entry into other low-voltage specialties, including telecommunications work; moves, adds and changes; additional structured cabling work; and upgrading servers,” he said.
Instead of walking away at the end of a traditional electrical project, the contractor will be in a position to stay deeply involved with the customer.
“The contractor that partners with Frontier gets a strong, proven solution that can scale from small to large environments and a partner that is vested in their success in the security market,” Krinitt said.
For Frontier, the primary benefit of developing this new relationship with electrical contractors will be partnerships that enable the company to find new opportunities, expand its customer base and develop collaborative relationships that will help it create increasingly compelling solutions for the security market.
What about the end-user?
“The end-user receives a solution that will solve their problems and a solution provider that can support the product through its partnership with the manufacturer,” Krinitt said.
It is that consultive relationship that is designed to help ensure that the end-user’s future needs are being taken care of.
“Often, the end-user isn’t aware of increased operational efficiencies enabled by security system products,” he said.
By emphasizing channel education, Frontier can ensure that its electrical contractor partners can provide end-users with more in-depth information about the efficiency, additional applications or other capabilities provided by the security system solution.
The end-user also gets a single point of responsibility for the installation and support of any system in the building that runs on wire or cable.
“If the electrical contractor is also responsible for the installation of the security and other low-voltage systems, it gives the end-user increased confidence the project will have improved coordination and pricing,” Feldman said.
ECs bring their connection to the customer and the understanding of its needs to the table.
“Contractors are already managing complex systems for the end-user and have a deeper understanding of the customer’s challenges,” Krinitt said.
Feedback from that relationship enables Frontier to develop and provide compelling and connected solutions.
“Contractors have the personnel that know how to install electrical systems and expertly run cable and perform terminations,” Feldman said.
Security and other low-voltage systems just build on that knowledge and enable contractors with low-voltage experience to grow in the higher tech market.
The contractor’s need for enterprise solutions makes them an attractive partner for companies like Frontier that wish to sell directly through them. Too often, contractors have to meet client needs by creating a solution with products from disparate manufacturers.
“This type of partnership enables contractors to become a single-source solution for the customer and to address a broader range of end-user requirements,” Krinitt said.
Even with a supportive manufacturer partnership, making the initial sales successfully is a challenge. There is a fair amount to learn about security system devices, the technology and the logic behind security system design.
“Contractors new to this market should start small, build up their system knowledge, and be willing to evolve with the technology,” Feldman said.
Understanding the proper configuration of security systems and how larger solutions connect and integrate will help contractors the most.
“Partnering with a security solutions manufacturer that will work with the contractor to ensure that client requirements are understood will enable the contractor to broaden its reach,” Krinitt said.
About The Author
Darlene Bremer, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributed frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR until the end of 2015.