Gary Harmer is the Director of Sales for Electronic Security at Mayflex. He has many years’ experience in the security industry having spent over 20 years at another security distributor prior to joining Mayflex in January 2011. Gary is also a Liveryman in The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals.
How have the last twelve months been for you?
We’ve had a strong performance over the last year for all of the areas of our business; cabling, networking and security. In the security sector we have grown our year-on-year turnover significantly, largely due to a combination of factors such as continued investment and bringing on-board new brands -we have now had a full year of working with Avigilon and last summer we launched a new brand called Razberi.
Having said that about new brands we’re continuing our development with existing vendor partners such as Axis, Milestone, Mobotix etc and this shows the market that we are not pushing one brand over another, which I also think helps improve the business performance.
Another important factor is the fact that we do not have any own-brand technology which is an attraction to installers because they know they will get an unbiased opinion from us as we don’t have a product to push at them that we can get a higher margin from. This also makes us an attractive option for brands that want to reach the security market via a distributor.
How has the growing move into IP affected your business?
We still have two customer bases, but they are gradually converging into a single set.
In the structured cabling and networking side we have the IT-ready communications companies that understand IP, networking, addressing, configuration etc and are moving into the security sector whereas traditionally they stayed away from the market as it was entirely analogue 1volt peak-to-peak on coax. Today much of the security equipment is network-based and they understand that concept, although they do need some help sometimes with system design and product selection. Our history in structured cabling provides the perfect foundation for an IP based security solution.
The other half of the customer base is the traditional security installers who are migrating from analogue into IP, making that transition and looking for a partner to help them. Our biggest challenge, as an industry, is the education of installers and end-users on the benefits of IP and how to make a cost-efficient transition. There are some who think that IP is too expensive, but if you look at it closely, you can put together a return on investment package, which we have done on a number of occasions. For example, by taking large analogue-based perimeter protection designs and re-engineering them to an IP solution, it can save the installer money on the project.
Are there any common areas of confusion for installers?
There are two points that are raised quite regularly. First is how to get a return on investment with IP. There is a traditional feeling that IP is more expensive than analogue because on a camera-for-camera basis it generally is, but it is not until you start to consider what else you can do with a network camera that IP really shows its value. The use of video analytics for example will provide much more information to a business than security and more installers are using this angle to engage with their clients, often seeing budgets being brought in from marketing and branding departments for the project as the benefits go beyond security purposes.
The other main area that we see trending among installers is the need for upskilling their workforce. This comes down to us helping them train their staff with vendor-sponsored programmes and generic training. Installers need to invest in their business and so improved knowledge opens up new areas of opportunity for them in the market. For example, a real concern for people making the transition into IP is the awareness surrounding licensing. One half of our customer base, which is the IT/comms people, expects any software product they use to be licensed and expect an annual maintenance/support package to be applied, but in the world of analogue CCTV this thinking does not exist. The traditional security installer needs to understand the licensed model and the accreditation programmes that manufacturers put in place to ensure that properly qualified people are installing their brand.
Read the full interview in PSI magazine June 2014