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June 1, 2000

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Locks: Just Another Ancillary?The true story on high-security locking devices

Locks: Just Another Ancillary?

The true story on high-security locking devices

By Chris Shope


High-security cylinders and padlocks have millions of usable combinations, and are available with or without master keying.

The typical self-storage owner may think of padlocks and other security locking devicesas profit-making items that help renters lock their units. Locks are heavier and moreexpensive than boxes, but are sometimes viewed as just another ancillary product,something to put a few bucks in your pocket.

For the past three years, I have been actively making sales calls on self-storagefacilities from coast to coast. The first question I am usually asked about locks is theprice. Very few people ask about usable key codes or the actual quality of the lockingsystems at first. In the beginning, this was difficult for me to comprehend.

We entered the security industry with a full line of locks developed for thecasino-gaming, vending and amusement industries. With the distinction of selling securityproducts to these industries came the responsibility of manufacturing a line of locks thatcould compete with companies such as Medeco and Abloy. Like these companies, we take anactive roll in new-product development and maintaining the integrity of our trade, whichis why we don't consider locks an ancillary product.

In the early '80s, the self-storage market was not consumed by low-end lock andsecurity products, but still was focused on high quality and inventive ideas. In the pastdecade, the market has become price-driven, but with this trend comes a problem: Youcannot keep reducing prices without diminishing your quality and features. Hence, alower-end line of locks emerged to compete with some ancillary companies' products, butthere are still products available tailored to companies with security in mind.

Many of the new, state-of-the-art facilities and some older facilities have moved frompadlocks to more enhanced security systems. Modern facilities, as well as retrofittedolder facilities, are using extra security measures to enhance their marketing programs.Our hand-assembled locking cylinders are unquestionably still our biggest sellingcylinders. And with the increasing problems of theft, chemical storage, drug labs andother criminal activities on the rise, the number of master-keyed facilities hasincreased.

Believe me, Iknow what you are thinking: Master-keyed facilities--I can't do that. Well, you will besurprised to learn that some cities and municipalities now require master keying for firecodes. And none of the facilities that operate with our master-keyed systems have beencompelled to drop their operation. Since 1985, when we developed this system, we have hadno security breaches or legal problems, and we have sold over a million of thesecylinders, all of which are still in operation.

We all can see tremendous change happening in the industry. There is a marketingadvantage in promoting a high-security facility. Look at your entire facility, from thesurveillance system to your gates, and build a system that complements your surroundings.Locks are part of that system. When you promote security, your customers will not onlyappreciate your efforts, they will have a superior level of confidence in your facility.

Chris Shope is the national sales manager for L.A.I. Group, which manufactures acomplete line of security locks and custom-designed security hardware for the self-storageand other industries. The L.A.I. team is committed to taking knowledge gained from othersecurity industries and applying it to the self-storage market. For more information, call(800) 422-2866.

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