Sentinel Systems Corp. was a pioneer in the early years of self-storage. Founded in 1975 by Buzz Victor as Mini Storage Alarm, the company developed the industry’s first security and access control, and has been providing cutting-edge security solutions and property management software for storage owners ever since.
Developing a Dream
“We continue to identify the needs of the industry and refine our product line,” says Joe Burt, international sales manager. Customer demand led the company to release its original Property Manager in 1980. This program was designed to track facility finances and report pertinent information to the security and access-control system. Sentinel’s current systems are far more intricate but still offer the reliability and ease of the original product line.
Developing a Dream
In 1985, under Victor’s guidance, David “Big Dave” Reddick realized a dual system to control security and property management was the most efficient way for a storage owner to secure a facility. He developed a product to seamlessly integrate the daily functions of a self-storage operation with security. This was a radical departure from anything in the marketplace at the time. The solution was simple and cost effective.
In 1988, Reddick purchased controlling interest in the company and changed the name to Sentinel Systems, reflecting the titles of the product line. Reddick continued to develop and refine his company’s offerings, and his dream came to fruition in 1996 when Sentinel unveiled its WinSen software package, a fully integrated line of property management, access control and security systems.
“We were the first to bring this to the industry,” says Burt. “The development also defined the next generation of what we now call the Universal Interface.”
Over the next several years, Reddick was on a mission to provide outstanding customer service and superior quality through technology, systems and marketing. Sentinel developed tools such as integrated online payments and Smart technology devices, giving operators comprehensive customer communications.
The corporation’s technology has been coupled with cutting-edge items such as payment/rental kiosks and flexible lighting-control outputs. Access-control keypads are available to not only recognize a customer by PIN but also offer very powerful user-defined messaging. The system greets the customer with a friendly message and at the same time reminds him of his payment due date and balance.
The untimely death of Dave Reddick in 2001 didn’t end his dream. His wife, Bonnie, and two children, Jon Reddick and Joell Reddick-Dalton, assumed his legacy. Bonnie is president and owner of the company and Jon and Joell are vice presidents. The three are heavily involved in the daily operation of the organization, carrying on Dave’s tradition. “The company has become a stronger, more cohesive unit,” Burt says.
Dave Reddick’s vision extended beyond product. By making his employees an integral part of the company and empowering them, he ensured Sentinel’s survival. “We all share the same vision and have an understanding of what it takes to achieve our ultimate goals,” Burt says.
Part of the company’s mission is to provide superior products through the talents and abilities of its people. “We believe the expertise and tenure of staff will continue to prove the company as a leader,” Burt says. “The corporation has excellent employee retention; the majority of us have been here at least 10 years, and some more than 20 years. Most companies in our industry can’t even come close to that.”
Sentinel’s also aspires to continually bring innovative products to the storage market. The company’s new online-payment system, for example, has already enrolled more than 2,000 users [as of press time]. Storage operators indicated their customer base had changed: Today’s tenants prefer to make payments online rather than in cash at the facility. As a result, Sentinel invested in a VeriSign certificate on its own server, allowing it to collect and download payments into the WinSen Property Manager’s credit card processing mechanism. This minimizes the involvement of the storage facility while maximizing security of funds.
Another advance is the Smart Technology keypad that, with proper battery backup, prevents failure of an access-control system in the event of a power outage or computer malfunction. “We took a completely different route on this one by not trusting a secondary processor or controller to keep track of security functions,” Burt says. “This system is in constant sync with the WinSen Property Manager’s database to provide backup should there be a computer failure.”
At the request of other customers, the company has also added several tools to its WinSen Property Sentinel product. One allows facilities to manage up to 64 lighting-control zones. This feature is coupled with elevator/zone doors that control and inform Sentinel of activities at the property’s access points.
Sentinel not only reinvented the face of its existing product line, it enhanced company operations. The accounting features of the WinSen Property management now feature an easy interface to business applications such as the Quick Books Pro line of GL software. Also offered is the WinSen Home Office, which allows the scheduling of data deliveries to the home office as well as offering a special suite of reports designed to be viewed on owner’s PDA.
The emerging mobile-storage market is also on the company’s priority list. Sentinel developed a robust method of tracking mobile-storage containers from pickup to delivery; operators also have the ability to produce a printed map with point-topoint navigation and GPS coordinates for the driver.
Sentinel is a global company with a network of sales and service professionals in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. The company has just been awarded several major contracts with self-storage providers on three continents, reports Burt. “We have achieved this not by competing on price, but competing on service and value of currency.” The company recently positioned its product line to conform to global standards. Equipment can now be shipped into virtually any market worldwide.
Sentinel’s future is defined by its history—a tradition of reaching beyond simple security solutions to bringing innovative products to market, Burt says. “We are committed to our mission statement and our involvement in the successful future of the self-storage industry.”
For more information, call 800.456.9955; visit www.sentinelsystems.com.