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“If you aren’t doing well now, then you never will”. That’s a phrase I have been hearing repeatedly from anyone involved in supplying any aspect of a home build in the past three years and this category is no different.
Suppliers all report increases in the past 12 months thanks to housing development in the nation’s construction hot spots, of which Auckland remains the standout with the Bay of Plenty and Central Otago also robust. Residential work in Christchurch remains stable but most suppliers agree that it has flattened somewhat with the move to more large commercial projects.
Allegion’s Craig Patterson however believes that it’s more than just new homes providing the increased business. In Auckland, where selling one overpriced house to move into another across town is an intimidating prospect – particularly with many scared the “bubble” could burst – some homeowners are preferring to use their potential increases in capital gains to renovate their existing home rather than buy a new one.
And what better way to bring your old, ridiculously overpriced Grey Lynn villa into the 21st century than a fancy new electronic lock? Murray Baber of Baber Lock & Key for one is very excited about developments in this area, both in terms of the technology and its increasing affordability for a wider consumer market.
With products previously retailing around the thousand dollar mark now coming in between $350 and $550 for a good quality digital lock, he believes the market is on the cusp of further growth.
Increased awareness of the technology and what it can do within the public consciousness has also helped uptake of smarter technology security options. Allegion’s Craig Patterson for example has been pleasantly surprised by consumer response to the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt that works with Apple’s HomeKit technology.
“I would say the pick-up of that technology exceeded our expectations,” Patterson says. “Apple hasn’t really made a big marketing campaign around Apple HomeKit but we’ve spread it through the channel and people are definitely feeling more comfortable with it.”
THE SHOCK OF THE NEW
So, with prices coming down and the technology improving all the time, surely it’s no surprise that electronic options are starting to become more mainstream? Indeed, most suppliers are reporting that in terms of growth, electronic options with either keypad or keyless entry using RFID or smartphone connectivity show the largest increases within their business.
“New Zealand is a little bit behind the rest of the world … So we’re playing catch up and leaving the rest of the world to experiment”
That said, Tim Joyce of LSC admits that, while electronics is the most rapidly growing part of LSC’s business, they are “still only a small part” of the whole, with restricted profile master key systems still taking the lion’s share of the current market and smart options remaining the domain of early adopters. So what does Tim Joyce feel is the hold-up here?
“Regarding this move from 20th to 21st century technology, I believe New Zealand is a little bit behind the rest of the world in where we’re at. So we’re playing catch up and leaving the rest of the world to experiment with these things and get it right before we really take these ideas on board,” he explains.
Another potential set-back in the uptake of smarter and electronic locks, according to some pundits is the relatively limited warranties in place on most of these models, particularly when compared to a tried and true mechanical lock.
GD Rutter’s Nick Rutter feels that the one-year warranties offered on many electronic options are often played down by suppliers and considering New Zealand’s often harsh and unpredictable weather conditions this may be putting a lot of consumers off the new technology.
Putting his money where his mouth is, Rutter does offer an electronic option with a three-year warranty thanks to a completely standalone weather tight casing, however, he admits that this comes at an increased cost to the potential purchaser.
A COTTAGE INDUSTRY?
To be fair, it’s not just consumers who may be cautious about taking on electronic options for securing a home. Some locksmiths may also be reluctant to take on the new tech despite advances in cable-less electronic doors control systems that have made what was once the arena of the electronic specialist a far more feasible option for those locksmiths willing to upskill.
LSC’s Tim Joyce feels that “changing the thought patterns” of locksmiths used to dealing with solely the mechanical aspects of security is a major hurdle for the industry. Giving them their fair due however, he feels that the locksmith industry is fairly multi-faceted with business people at one end of the spectrum willing to embrace the new technology and “cottage industry” types at the other end comfortable to stay with the mechanical options.
“The advent of this modern technology is actually opening up a new sector for the trade industry to be able to get into it,” Joyce says. “So some are wanting to do things how they have always done it and others want to go where the business is and looking to the future. And I feel that those that are embracing this new tech are on that quick wave going forward.”
A SPECIALIST’S TAKE
Talking about the future, what is the outlook for a supplier whose bread and butter is electronic, rather than strictly mechanical security systems?
Scott Barber of Salto Systems has had an excellent 12 months in sales with cable-free locking solutions and predicts that the next year should also do well. He admits though that most of Salto’s growth areas come from the commercial rather than domestic side of the industry.
“We have an exciting product roadmap ahead, however the major growth areas we are seeing are commercial facilities implementing our solutions to enable their staff to open doors using their smartphone,” Barber says.
Salto’s SALTO KS (Keys as a Service) product has also been getting plenty of enquiries but it is mostly small to medium enterprises that are interested in this cost effective cloud-based solution rather than domestic homeowners.
Summing up, this category like many others in hardware, is doing well on the back of the still buoyant construction industry. What sets it apart from some other categories is that emerging technologies within this area are promising to make real changes to the way average Kiwis secure their homes and that change is surely just around the corner.
Consumer security options
There is plenty of chatter around about smart homes and the Internet Of Things.
But, as far as the security industry goes, the super connected tech industry options like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home haven’t made securing the home a major focus.
Speaking to our regular suppliers over the years, electronic locks with Wi-Fi connectivity allowing for remote access for visitors and tradies have certainly generated interest but the actual uptake so far by average Kiwis may not be all it could be.
Those willing to pay the big bucks for a specialist installer can, of course, get some very comprehensive surveillance and access options but, for the retail market, standalone “plug & play” options like security cameras, window alarms and motion sensors appear to be a category in growth.
Brands like Doberman, Swann and Ring are currently offering some interesting and affordable security options ranging from $20 to $500. Top of the pile are options like smart hub connected alarms starter kits including motion sensors, and HD video doorbells that connect to Smart devices.
On the other end of the scale, you can purchase a dummy security camera that works as a psychological deterrent or a key-fob sized personal alarm for under $30.
So far this category seems to be meeting a very specific niche so we will be keeping a close eye on it in future.
Miles Nelson S Range
The new S range of door handles from Miles Nelson are stylish, easy to install and built to last, featuring contemporary lever designs combined with clever engineering and quality manufacturing. Non-twist positioning lugs make installation faster and mean the base stays straight while the through door interlocking system improves strength and makes installation easier. All models in the S range are manufactured to grade 3 standard, are non-handed and suitable for door widths from 32 to 45mm.
New Brio Open Bar Rail System in black
Brio, a leading designer and manufacturer of sliding door systems, expands their popular Open Rail range with a new flat bar system. Architecturally designed, the Brio Open Rail range is a collection of exposed rail systems, referencing industrial style with modern, minimalist appeal. The new flat bar system for their Open Rail Range offers a barn door solution for panels up to 80kg in weight and 1.25m in width. This easy to install system uses a precision bearing and nylon tyre which rolls smoothly over a flat bar rail. The face fix straps and rail are available in stainless steel with a brush satin finish or in mild steel with a textured, matte black powder coat. Standard kits include length of rail, hangers, door stops and guide for single panel applications. A joining bracket is available to dress bi-parting applications where two door systems are used.
Carbine offers innovation with both barrels
The good people at Baber Lock & Key are offering some of the latest in electronic security options through the Carbine brand. A hero product is the Electronic 3 in 1 Leverset (CEL-3IN1-SL8SN) that offers top security and a wide range of very simple entry options. The 3 in 1 Leverset offers Touch LED Keypad for code entry, RFID card or NFC mobile phone entry and Key override entry using common front door keys. Codes are available from 4-8 digits with 1 programming code, 25 user codes and 25 RFID cards access and also features double authorisation and vacation mode to lock out all users. Requires four AA batteries. In addition Carbine has a raft of new products coming out including trade quality digital padlocks and sliding door lock options all for surprisingly affordable prices.
GD Rutter slides into first
GD Rutter is now offering new Sliding Door Pulls. Produced in 304-grade Stainless Steel these easily installed models have a flush design for total door retraction and suit door thicknesses from 32mm to 42mm. 2 sizes are available, large at 224mm overall and small at 160mm overall in a satin nickel plate finish.
ABUS offers top security, come rain or shine
ABUS 83WP Extreme Weather Proof Series padlocks are weather protected, steel bodied padlocks with a plastic cover. These models differ from similarly styled weather protected padlocks in that the body is solid steel, not laminated steel. For those who prefer a brass option, the ABUS 83WPIB/53 KD Submariner model offers a solid brass body. The plastic cover on these padlocks is manufactured using a dual injection process that results in a rubber-like material around the shackle opening while retaining heavy duty durability around the rest of the padlock to prevent the cover from splitting. Both series offer double ball locking, Removable cylinder assembly for quick rekeying, 570 6 pin style barrels and Silca LW4 keyways.
From the vault: the Baber legacy
If you needed any more evidence that Murray Baber of Baber Lock & Key was a bona fide stalwart of the New Zealand security industry, check out this article from the NZ Hardware Journal vault 20 years ago that shows how deep Murray’s roots in this industry go.
Back in 1997, MJ Baber & Company started trading as Interlock Distributors after Interlock Group purchased the company, with which it had had an association since 1983. Interlock Distributors subsequently commenced operation from a new address at North Harbour Industrial Estate that many will recognise from the picture above as the current address for Assa Abloy, the name that the Interlock Group changed to in 2005. That year also saw the formation of Baber LSC Ltd, a collaboration between Baber & Co and Locksmith Supply Co. (LSC) of Melbourne.
Murray is of course now running Baber Lock & Key and having great success as the New Zealand distributor of the Carbine brand (see his comments in the feature), continuing to build upon his already considerable legacy in New Zealand’s security business.