2009 Security Innovation Award – Bronze Medalist: Security Upgrade Helps Grubb Ventures Grow

For 50 years, the Grubb companies have been leaders in providing customers and partners with superior residential, commercial and development products and services in the Charlotte and Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary) markets of North Carolina. Grubb Ventures commands premium lease rates for its properties at its Glenwood Place office complex, and in return, tenants expect superior service and amenities — including building security.

From One Panel to System Standardization

The Glenwood Place development in Raleigh, N.C., comprises seven separate buildings, along with the flagship 3700 Glenwood Place building, where Grubb Ventures is headquartered along with other prestigious clients.

“Previously, we had access control in one of our buildings, but it wasn’t user-friendly at all,” says Bill Burgess, Facilities Manager for Grubb Ventures. “We had to do manual archiving every month, it worked erratically, and we generally just had too many problems. We wanted to upgrade, so I had a demonstration of the Brivo system. We installed one panel, and I loved it.”

Grubb Ventures installed Brivo ACS WebService first in the 110,000-square-foot 3700 Glenwood Place building, and subsequently rolled out the system to the seven other buildings in the complex. To date, Burgess and his long-standing security integrator partner, ASG Security, have installed nine Brivo ACS panels, covering approximately 60 doors that manage daily access for more than 1,000 staff and customers from a highly diverse base of commercial clients.

An Evolving, Increasingly Sophisticated Security Application

In addition to access control, Burgess and ASG have settled on a video surveillance system made up of Clinton DVRs and a mix of Clinton and Honeywell dome cameras that cover key entry and exit points throughout the eight buildings. In all, 45 cameras are deployed, recording to seven DVRs — the system will continue to expand both in the present buildings and as new buildings come online.

With time, and the growing partnership between Grubb Ventures and ASG Security, Burgess and Gregory Curtis, ASG’s Senior Security Consultant, devised innovations to increase overall system effectiveness and efficiency. One such innovation is an integration of the access control and elevator systems.

The elevators in the newer 3700 Glenwood Place building are a Schindler Machine Room-less system — one ASG had not integrated with access control as yet. “There’s a huge difference between putting a card reader outside the elevator cab and putting one inside,” Curtis explains.

After placing it inside the cab, Burgess said, “It works beautifully.” After regular business hours, the Brivo access control system is programmed to provide elevator access only to specific people going to certain floors during multiple, pre-programmed time periods. This successful integration has created a compelling precedent for future elevator-access control integrations in other buildings and for potential integration with HVAC data to better manage resources and cut costs.

Over the last four-plus years, as Grubb has rolled out its access control system throughout the complex, Burgess has been impressed with several aspects of the Brivo ACS. “We didn’t have to buy software, it’s all managed by Brivo,” he says. “We pay one monthly fee, all upgrades are included, and the price doesn’t change.”

Bottom Line: Delight the Client

Grubb Ventures boasts a number of high-profile corporate tenants such as banks and investment advisors, as well as several state boards and agencies that require a high degree of management control to ensure the safety of staff, records and assets.

In addition to real-time protection provided by the complementary access control and video surveillance systems, if tenants want to investigate an incident or request a report, Burgess and staff can comply easily and immediately. After more than four years of system operations, Burgess reports that “break-ins and thefts have just about gone to zero — that’s a huge asset for us and for our tenants.”

Before the new access control system was installed, everyone carried metal keys. Now, tenants have 24-hour access to their offices and elevator control that ensures non-employees do not even have access to their floors after hours.

Under the lock-and-key system, Grubb had to pay someone to open doors when needed and then rely on the cleaning staff to lock up after themselves when finished. Now, Burgess and staff do all of that automatically and remotely, and they always have a clear record of access from each door, as well as the peace of mind of knowing what doors are open and what doors have been locked down.

When it comes to return on investment (ROI), Burgess estimates that with the reduction in man-hours needed and the added convenience and efficiency, the system to date has probably more than paid for itself.

But for Grubb Ventures, that is not the most important issue: “I want my access and video systems to give me the tools I need so we can perform in a way that keeps our tenants consistently happy with their office space,” Burgess says.

Building a Bigger Future

Even in the current challenging economy, Grubb Ventures continues to plan big for the future. In addition to the eight-building development already in place, there are plans to add additional square footage to the Glenwood Place complex.

On tap first is a 130,000-square-foot sister building slated for next door to 3700 Glenwood Place. Depending on economic conditions, over the next few years a boutique hotel and additional commercial office buildings will follow.

From lessons learned in deploying access control and video surveillance at the Glenwood Place complex, Burgess plans to extend use of both systems and his decision to standardize on Brivo ACS WebService means the entire expanded complex will someday comprise 200 or more doors managing access control for an even larger and more diverse group of tenant clients and, literally, thousands of users every day.

It has taken time, a gradual rollout and listening hard to the customer for Brivo and ASG Security to gain Grubb Venture’s confidence in managing access control for such a large and growing commercial property development. Then again, as Burgess tells it, maybe it was just the snake.

“We recently had a snake get into a transformer, cross two lines and blow itself and the transformer up. An entire, several hundred-unit building lost power for hours, but it didn’t hurt the Brivo system at all.” ?

Project Innovation Highlights

• After a gradual period of roll-out and testing, Grubb has standardized on Brivo ACS WebService and Clinton DVRs and cameras.

• The ASG Senior Security Consultant, Gregory Curtis, has worked for 12 years for ASG Security (and its predecessor companies) and with his counterpart, Bill Burgess, for more than five years. Curtis and ASG understand Grubb’s technology needs, but more importantly they understand Grubb’s business needs and priorities.

• Grubb has installed nine Brivo ACS panels, covering 60 doors, as well as seven Clinton DVRs recording a mix of 45 Clinton and Honeywell cameras. Combined, the video surveillance and access control systems provide security for more than 1,000 staff and customers on a daily basis for Grubb’s multiple commercial clients.

• In some buildings, ACS WebService is integrated with Schindler elevators to provide specific floor management access based on user, tenant preferences, time of day and other factors.

• When tenants want to investigate an incident or request a report, Grubb staff can comply easily and immediately. With the combined effectiveness of the access control and video surveillance solutions, Burgess reports that break-ins and thefts have been reduced nearly to zero.

• Regarding ROI, Grubb estimates that reduction in man-hours needed plus increased convenience and efficiency equals a system that has already paid for itself.

Bill Burgess, vendor Brivo and integrator ASG Security were recognized at the recent ASIS show with the bronze medal in this year’s annual STE Security Innovation Awards. To read more about the awards, visit SecurityInfoWatch.com/magazine/STE and click on the September cover story. To learn more about entering next year’s competition, e-mail Steve Lasky, editor-in-chief, at steve.lasky@cygnuspub.com.

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