EXCLUSIVE: Better together – supporting growth

Angelo Faenza and Sean McGrath - ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions

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Angelo Faenza and Sean McGrath, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions discuss how the company leverages teamwork to achieve a safer world.

As Head of US Commercial Sales, McGrath is responsible for leading the ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions sales organization. This includes driving growth and generating demand through local sales teams, business development, marketing and training.

The ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions sales organization combines the expertise of the industry’s most knowledgeable door opening experts with a comprehensive product offering of leading door and hardware brands to provide complete solutions to partners and end-users in commercial, government, institutional, multi-family and retail facilities.

According to McGrath, much of the success and growth of ASSA ABLOY can be attributed to focus and specialization.

“We have dedicated sales and business development teams with extensive experience in our core vertical markets – healthcare, K-12, university, government and multi-family. Their knowledge of these market segments, paired with their experience in the door and hardware industry, allows them to work closely with end-users and channel partners to identify the solutions that best address the challenges of any given opening or facility,” said McGrath.

“We are continuously evolving our teams to address the changing landscape of the security industry and support emerging markets as needs arise.”

In addition, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions has teams focused on areas critical to the built environment – from codes and standards to sustainability and aesthetics.

“We realize that collaboration between all these groups is essential to helping create facilities that provide safe and secure environments for learning, working, healing and living,” said McGrath. “As an industry, we have a tremendous responsibility to protect lives and as a company, we value that responsibility. This shared mission means everyone is working towards a common goal that we all truly support.”

However, with such a large team at ASSA ABLOY, McGrath highlighted that true collaboration requires deliberate and frequent communication across the organization – among and between the leadership, sales, business development, marketing, product development, manufacturing and operations teams.

“We know that we are better together – not only within our organization but throughout the industry,” adds McGrath. “When we work closely with our partners and customers, we gain greater insight into their needs and learn how we can best support their objectives. Similarly, working closely with important trade organizations and standards bodies allows us to have a voice to represent those needs as codes and standards evolve.”

Evolution in security

One of the biggest changes McGrath has seen in the security industry is the migration from mechanical locks to electromechanical and electronic access control (EAC) solutions. As a result, access management software and systems integration have become increasingly important in the commercial space.

He sees no sign of this trend slowing down for the foreseeable future; the door is simply becoming more sophisticated. There is more integration between the products around the door and related systems in the building and increased adoption of tools that enable better management of door openings.

A related trend he noted is the growing opportunity for security upgrades. Though there is uncertainty around the economy that may impact new construction, facilities recognize the importance of maintaining and enhancing security to address the evolving needs of a space and its occupants.

This is especially true in educational environments like K-12 schools, where there is a huge focus on ensuring that classroom doors can be safely locked from the inside. Simple upgrades like this can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. 

Looking ahead, McGrath noted that ASSA ABLOY’s go-to-market strategy remains strongly focused on customers, end-users and influencers alike (architects, security consultants, contract hardware distributors, wholesale distributors, systems integrators and access control manufacturers).

“Though supply chain issues will likely continue to be a challenge, this focus will enable open communication with customers and allows us to have greater visibility into projects so we can plan ahead and mitigate extended lead times with better predictability,” said McGrath.

“Accurate information on when a product will be delivered allows customers to factor that timing into their construction or renovation schedule and work around it.”

Teamwork and collaboration

Speaking of better together, working alongside McGrath is Faenza, who is Head of US Digital Access Solutions. As part of ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions, the Digital Access Solutions team is focused on providing expertise and knowledge on EAC technologies to help customers identify the right solution for the specific needs of a facility. They help facilities leverage digital access technology to enhance security, increase efficiency and productivity, improve the user experience and provide valuable data and insight to a business or organization.

The team consists of technical sales specialists, vertical market business development, channel and partner development as well as operations and support. In the complex world of digital access, support is especially critical. At ASSA ABLOY, this includes technical support, project management, professional services, software development and integration support.

Like McGrath, Faenza emphasized the dramatic shift from mechanical to electromechanical and digital access solutions, with a growing acceptance of newer technologies and their use in security applications.

“For example, when WiFi locks were first introduced over a decade ago, they were met with skepticism,” explained Faenza. “Over time, we’ve seen the convergence of IT and security as well as an increased comfort level with technology due to the rise in consumer electronics and smart home technology.”

He noted that EAC is expanding not only to more doors but to more applications.

“It used to be reserved only for perimeter and high-security areas,” he said. “Now, it’s more common and increasingly critical to extend a facility’s access control footprint to more doors and to non-traditional applications, such as cabinets, lockers, drawers and server cabinets.”

Digital access solutions are a core driver of ASSA ABLOY’s growth and like other areas of the business, specialized teams are essential to this process.

“Having teams that have walked in our customers’ shoes and truly speak the same language allows us to support them at a much deeper level,” stated Faenza. “This focus and this connection create a partnership with our customers that is unparalleled.

“These partnerships are founded on the sense of trust that we’re able to build with our customers. By bringing together a team of experts across a spectrum of fields, we can address the safety and security of a facility in a very holistic way. This requires true collaboration internally and externally.”

Driving company culture

McGrath and Faenza are both passionate about teamwork and work hard to instill a strong sense of this value into the company’s culture. Having worked together for almost two decades, they’ve built an unspoken trust that allows them to lead their teams at ASSA ABLOY in parallel toward the same goal.

Both shared that over the next 12 months, there will be a continued focus on managing the supply chain challenges that have impacted the entire industry, as well as new product development, potential acquisitions and talent development.

“We’re in a great industry at a great time,” said Faenza. “This is a good place for people to begin their careers and an incredible industry to be a part of, whether you are new or a veteran.”

One of the many factors that make it such an exciting industry is the continuous innovation. The rapid adoption and development of technology over the past ten years has impacted everyone, in both a personal and professional capacity.

“A key factor in the adoption of new technology is the convenience it offers,” noted Faenza. “In our industry, we have to find the perfect balance between security and convenience. Digital access solutions allow us to do just that.”

Top trends impacting the proliferation of digital access include cloud-based technologies, wireless and mobile. “These developments have removed significant barriers to access control adoption,” Faenza added. “By making it easy, affordable and convenient, we’re able to implement digital access almost anywhere.”

Access solutions

As digital access becomes more widespread and open system architecture enables greater connection between systems, cybersecurity is arguably one of the most important factors to consider, according to McGrath and Faenza. Controlling physical access to networks is an often-overlooked factor in securing mission-critical or sensitive networks. At the same time, it’s essential to address the cybersecurity of the physical security products designed to protect these assets.

Thankfully, they said, security professionals have become incredibly intelligent and informed when it comes to their security strategies. They now do extensive research on their own and form well-rounded committees to ensure they understand the perspectives of all their stakeholders. This commitment and dedication are exactly what ASSA ABLOY is looking for when they develop long-term partnerships to support their customers’ success.

“We are truly better together when we work with our customers and partners to create safer and more secure environments,” said Faenza. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate and support our customers in this way.

This article was originally published in the March edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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