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The New Zealand market is not densely populated with keyless window and door technology but, from speaking to suppliers for this piece, it certainly seems that this is where the market is heading.
Moreover, the coming months will see a number of companies release new generation keyless products and, while this type of product has been seen in the market, the expectation is that they will be achieving more penetration this time.
Of course, not every consumer is looking for keyless entry options. As GD Rutter’s Managing Director Nick Rutter points out: “There is always going to be a section of the market that wants a physical key, I don’t think that will ever go away entirely.”
Playing the role of devil’s advocate, although certainly not dismissing keyless locks (the company has keyless locks available), Nick Rutter points to some of the issues facing such products when adopted in the New Zealand market.
He explains that some keyless products are coming in from Asia where these products are used indoors, and therefore may not quite bear the brunt of the four-seasons-in-one-day weather we experience here.
“One thing a lot of people do is place the lock on a tongue & groove door. But a lot of doors aren’t dead flat. So what happens is when the weather hits that door, the water falls into and runs down the groove and so you run a risk that the water can get into the electronics of the lock and then have problems.”
Over at Allegion, National Sales Manager Jeff Bennett feels that keyless technology and electronic system is where the market is moving. Bennett says that the company is getting more requests for these products and globally that is where the market is shifting.
“At the same time, New Zealand is a smaller market and we tend to adopt things a little later and like to see how they go. But the keyless entry is becoming a stronger part of the front door offering.”
Industry stalwart Murray Baber, of Baber Lock & Key, agrees that keyless is definitely where the market is heading and says there is a sense of anticipation in the market and offers an intriguing anecdote about past offerings.
“There was a really brilliant lock which was created here by Nick Willis and it had application for household and commercial builds but he, as I understand it, has gone into the automotive world and he’s done a lot of product and marketing work in the US.”
He adds that although that particular system was a little ahead of its time, now it seems the consumer is ready for these systems.
CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS, CHANGING DYNAMICS
A big factor behind this shift towards keyless technology is the changing demographic of the nation’s population. With a growing multi-ethnical population, certain consumer trends are beginning to affect the products available in stores.
With regards to keyless technology, for example, the increasing Asian population has meant an increase in demand because many Asian countries have long been adopters of such systems.
Drawing on personal experience is Allegion’s Marketing Manager Craig Patterson: “I lived in Korea for four years and I never had a key in the time I lived there. China is the same, it is a country of high adopters of technology but New Zealand has been a little slow.”
But, he adds: “The demographics, especially in Auckland, are changing so you’re seeing a lot of people who grew up with electronic locks and are looking for those products again.”
Another that points to the familiarity of many new consumers with keyless technology is Nick Rutter: “A lot of the electronic products coming from Asia are designed for more internal situations like apartments. There are a lot of people living here now that are more familiar with the systems, and they are fantastic products used in internal systems, such as apartment buildings.”
Nick Rutter’s point about internal systems is something that rings true when looking at the appropriateness of certain products for the New Zealand market…
LOCAL PRODUCTS FOR LOCAL ISSUES
From looking at where the market may be going, let’s look at what’s happening in the here and now.
One issue that’s widely talked about in the industry is about products being fit for the local conditions that they will be subjected to. With many more products now being brought in from other countries, the concern amongst suppliers is whether the products are all fit for the purpose they are being bought for.
Cambrian Engineering Co’s Hardware Account Manager, Lilly Porneroy, says the company has witnessed an influx of cheaper imported products which are failing due to the use of inferior materials that cannot withstand local conditions.
“Our products are made locally at our factory in New Plymouth; we pride ourselves on having a product that is durable and will last the distance compared to lower quality alternatives. As New Zealand is a very coastal country, there is the issue of durability of the finish of external door hardware.”
Lilly Porneroy adds that issues with finish can often be alleviated with regular cleaning, something that many of the other suppliers consulted for this piece emphasised.
Murray Baber too feels it is a message that must be passed on to the general public when it comes to window and door furniture. He says that the quality of products is strong but, because of every Kiwi’s close proximity to coastal winds, regular cleaning is still needed.
“We all live in proximity to coastal waters which are susceptible to sea winds. Most products will survive it but need to be cleaned to help combat corrosion. It’s an obvious thing but a spray of WD40 and a wipe would certainly prolong the life of the products.”
Nick Rutter is another to echo these sentiments but accepts that cleaning door and window furniture is not something that is top of mind for most consumers, adding that the latest style trends towards stainless steel or satin chrome and away from brass have meant a reduction in the risks caused by the environment.
“A lot of that tarnishing problem has disappeared as brass has dropped in popularity. 302 or 304 grade stainless steel will stand up reasonably well; 316 will stand up even better but both can be used in coastal environments, it’s just one will stain faster than the other.”
Certainly raising awareness of the benefits of cleaning window and furniture is something that suppliers are emphasising. Another is general security awareness, with many feeling it is a message that needs to be driven home to consumers. In essence, Kiwis still need to be told to lock it up!