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Quality First

February 1, 2001

4 Min Read
Quality First

Quality First

Digitech International stays on the cutting edge with a simple,old-fashioned idea

By Tom Chmielewski

Digitech International's 20-plus years working in self-storage security canbe summed up in one word: quality. That's how the Asheville, N.C.-based company,formerly known as Doug West & Associates, has carved out its leadershipposition in the industry. Each of its innovative products and service programshas been designed and redesigned until it performs well beyond customerexpectations. In an industry hungry for the peace of mind security provides,it's a sound business plan.

A visit to Digitech's new headquarters reveals a beehive of activity. There,a 55-member team is exclusively focused on developing and marketingaccess-control and security systems for a worldwide self-storage industry. Thedemand for these products is not surprising. Giving customers the protectionthey desire affords self-storage owner/operators a distinct competitiveadvantage, resulting in boosted occupancy and higher rental rates.

Innovation: Part of the Corporate Culture

Although Digitech embraces the somewhat old-fashioned notion ofuncompromising quality, it has always been about innovation. The company was thefirst to offer an all-aluminum keypad faceplate with no moving parts, use abuilt-in keypad intercom, supply owners with a security marketing display forgreater sales power, put a covert CCTV camera inside the keypad, offer a supportpackage of installation specifications and CAD drawings... And each innovationwas the result of a relentless drive to better meet the needs of this growingindustry.

"All of our products are engineered with quality in mind," assertsJon Loftin, chief design engineer at Digitech. "Our all-metal keypads arejust one example. Sure, we could make them with rubber or silicon parts, butthey wouldn't last as long. They wouldn't be Digitech quality."

Quality Products and Solutions

In the early '80s, DigiGate 102 access-control software became a popularchoice in self-storage security. The fact that so many of these stalwart systemsremain on the job speaks for itself. Today, however, the DigiGate 700access-control system carries the banner for Digitech. Compatible with Windowssoftware, the package can execute a database backup, make reports, interfacewith accounting software, operate door alarms and video-surveillance systems,and accommodate virtually unlimited keypads operating door-locking devices,gates and even elevators.

The company's DigiGuard system solved the puzzle of the wireless dooralarm. In the past, wireless alarm systems amounted to off-the-shelf home unitsthat proved untrustworthy in a self-storage setting. What the industry neededwas an effective wireless system. With its unique 900 MHz technology, powerfultransmitter and innovative receiver/repeater technology, the DigiGuard systemhas proven eminently reliable in a typically metallic, self-storage environment.It also saves installation time over its hard-wired counterparts, whetherapplied to new structures or used for retrofitting existing ones.

A Way of Doing Business

Quality-managementsystems have become a way of life at Digitech. The company utilizes"teaming," in which a team of staffers is assigned to each customer.Technical knowledge is a requirement of all sales people, who see to it that thecustomer understands the entire process from initial contact, throughinstallation, to follow-up.

During the design phase, Digitech engineers provide expert input on specs andestimates, all with the understanding that the security system is engineered tosuit the facility, and not the other way around. Digitech also connectscustomers with its affiliated installers, and maintains the manufacturer/clientrelationship with a nationwide servicing network and in-house tech support.

"It's a total quality package," observes Marketing Director SteveCooper. "Our customers know they'll get the attention they deserve. Theycan count on our products, as well as our toll-free technical support."Relationships are valued highly at Digitech. "It's a concept we call'partnering,'" explains Cooper. "We strive to be effective partners todevelopers, architects, installation companies and customers--all those involvedin the process. We encourage customers to share their vision, even beforeconstruction begins."

A Quality Future

The rapid expansion of the self-storage industry has meant unprecedentedgrowth at Digitech. The company's new headquarters now contains an in-houseengineering department and facilities for product testing. Components ofDigitech products have been listed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and alsocarry the CE Mark, a comparable European registration. Today, Digitech productsare providing secure access control in North America, Europe and Australia, withother markets in the planning stages.

The company's expanded facilities contain a new training center which is usedto keep operators and outside contractors up to speed on product developments.Digitech has also formed a unique public/private alliance with the local collegefor the purpose of staff training and counseling in the area of qualitymanagement and team building.

"We're all very proud of the growth we've achieved," commentsCooper, "but it's humbling, too. We know we've come this far only becauseour customers believe in what we're doing. If we're going to stay on top, wehave to give them the quality products and relationships they demand. That'squite a challenge." But it's a challenge Digitech appears ready to meet.

For more information, contact Steve Cooper at 800.523.9504 or visit www.digitech-intl.com.

Tom Chmielewski is a freelance writer.

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