Talking With Lance Comstock: Self-Storage Security Pioneer Returns to Create PTI Security Systems
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|Posted on: 11/10/2011|
A self-storage software and security pioneer has returned to the industry after a four-year hiatus with the acquisition of two well-known brands: PTI Integrated Systems Inc. (PTI) and Digitech International Inc. The result is a new company in the self-storage vertical: PTI Security Systems.
Last month Lance Comstock re-purchased the PTI brand he sold to Chamberlain Group Inc. in late 2007. He also bought the Digitech brand, which was purchased by Chamberlain in early 2008.
Established in 1979, PTI is a developer and manufacturer of access-control, security and site-management solutions for the self-storage industry. The company has evolved greatly over the years, adding more products and services. Digitech has developed and marketed access-control and security systems for the self-storage industry for more than 20 years.
Inside Self-Storage caught up with Comstock to discuss his transition back into the industry, what the acquisition means for PTI and Digitech users, and his plans for the new company. More information can be found at PTISecurity.com.
Why did you re-buy PTI?
I purchased PTI back because I absolutely loved developing and supporting products for the self-storage industry. I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now, and there’s no place like this where it’s the relationships that count. I’ve always enjoyed the people I’ve worked with and the satisfaction I get when we take care of their needs.
How does the Digitech brand align with the new company?
The PTI and Digitech brands are the best in the industry and always have been. Each product line has a tremendous amount of flexibility and durability to service the needs of this industry. There are many companies that have come and gone in this industry, as they really don’t understand what it takes to develop reliable products. Many of the differences come down to a personal preference, much like Chevy and Ford. They’re both great products, but people like to have a choice with the differences each product line offers.
How will this affect self-storage operators currently using these brands?
I’m excited to work with the existing customer base and ensure we’re supporting their needs. There are currently thousands of these systems installed at facilities, and some of them will date back more than 20 years. We will supply a migration path for most of these customers who have older systems to ensure they’re taking advantage of our current technologies.
There are many things that have been designed into our systems that some of the customers may not know about, or not know how to use these technical advantages to increase their business. We’ll also be looking at new ways to keep their older systems up and running without complete replacements in the unlikely event there’s a failure.
What’s in store for the new PTI Security Systems?
We’ll be introducing many new products and educating people on our existing advantages over the next six months. We’re in the process now of moving our manufacturing facilities from Nogales, Mexico, to Scottsdale, Ariz., where we can have greater control on the supply and quality. This will be completed before the first of the year.
We’re also looking at refining some of our products that can be used as multi-purpose products to help facilities advertise and get their message out. This will include adding a marketing display into our very popular graphics program that allows advertisements based on the user info to be displayed to them.
We’ve also developed some great products that assist the onsite manager to collect and pay rent for units at either the keypad (PayXpress) or at a dedicated station in the office (PayStation). Our wireless overlock system will be improved to allow for additional needs as well as development of a keypad that will work on both Digitech and PTI platforms.
The list is vast for our product development, as having a four-year break from the industry allowed me to get ideas that can be adapted to this industry. Many of these will be revealed in the very near future. Most important, however, we are putting systems in place to get better support and communications out to the industry. As I mentioned before, there’s no industry anywhere like self-storage. It’s all about creating and maintaining relationships and supplying results.
What are your plans for the international market?
I love the international market. When I founded PTI Integrated Systems, I was able to foster some great international partners and personal friends. Those relationships have been maintained during my absence from the market, so we now have re-established the business arrangement.
Our products are best suited for this market because many of the facilities actually use the features we’ve designed into our products, where as in the United States, the facilities have traditionally not been as sophisticated with their access-control and security products. However, this has been changing over the years. In fact many of the new ideas actually come from the input from the international market. This includes our lift or elevator controls, individual door alarms, graphics displays, TCP/IP connectivity, individual keypad messaging, one-time use codes, multiple-access capability and extensive tracking of customers, including e-mail notifications if a door is opened or a code is used.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my break it’s that you must have passion for what you do in life or you will not put in 110 percent toward it. I clearly have the passion for this industry and always have. I’m now looking forward to doing what I love more than anything—developing products and supporting the storage industry worldwide.