Live from Miami at the Americas' Fire and Security Expo 2006: Day 2

Buenos Dias, Miami Beach and readers! Day two at the Americas' Fire and Security Expo was a day that emphasized the global, cross-boundaries nature of the security industry.

This morning's show began with the Security Dealer staff attending 10 a.m. press conference hosted by HID Global, which was proudly announcing the expansion of their Latin American sales, marketing and support operations. The new team is led by Humberto De la Vega, director of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean. HID's expansion signifies a notable growth trend in the Latin American contactless smart card market, plus growth in Latin America for integrated access control systems solutions. HID is committing to to increase its dedicated Latin American sales team to 10 focused sales personnel.

In addition to expanding the sales personnel, HID Global has appointed Ligia Apparicio as marketing manager for Latin America. Apparicio brings a unique skillset for this job; she speaks four languages and has an extensive background in marketing communications. Apparicio said one of her main goals will be to strengthen the company's promotional efforts in the region by offering full marketing support in local languages. The company also reported that regional sales manager coverage assignments will include Alejandro Espinosa Figueroa for Mexico and Central America, Manuel Escobar Rodriguez for Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, Gustavo Gassmann in Brazil, and Sergio Mazzoni for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. On the customer support side HID now has Leticia Gosserez based in Mexico and Patricia Rizzi in Brazil. Jorge Villicana will be supporting the region's technical sales through telephone-based and on-site technical sales support.

During the early afternoon on Wednesday, Susan Brady, editor-in-chief of Security Dealer magazine moderated a panel discussion with two leaders in security distribution. Joining her on the dais were John Sullivan, the vice president of sales for ADI, and James Rothstein, senior vice president for Tri-Ed.

According to John Sullivan, wireless is the product category of the day.

"Wireless intrusion is the best performing category for ADI through 2006," said Sullivan. "Historic buildings call for wireless solutions." Sullivan also added that aside from the explosion in wireless technologies, the company is also readying itself for the "huge growth in IP on the horizon." We've included a short list of some of the ideas that ADI's John Sullivan shared during the distribution panel:

On bringing aboard new product lines...
"In our minds we ask what value is this going to bring to our dealers -- how good is it and what areas. We don't take on every technology; it has to fit into the space. We need to service our current dealers before we take on new ones. As a distributor you can grow your product lines to hundreds of thousands of SKUs. You have to be careful as to what you bring in. It's more than another product or by saving a dollar. Inventors come to ADI; we need to know what you're bringing as far as value. We don't want to put products on our shelves that don't move.

On creating solutions, not solely selling products...
"There's no one manufacturer that can put it all together, they have to pull from several companies. You ask, what is the environment and what is the issue you're up against? Then lets put a package together that answers those problems. Manufacturers need to do focus groups on their own and all the time."

On the factors that affect sales and install volumes...
"Pricing is not the decision maker. What's the quality? What's the distribution of the unit? What's the support of the product, i.e. the feet on the street? Now does it make sense to bring it on?"

According to Tri-Ed's James Rothstein, systems integration is the best performing area through 2006, with CCTV, access and intrusion being brought together in one package. Rothstein added that when broader consumer markets drive the IP technology, then the demand will catch up to the product development occurring in the security industry. He added that prices needs to come down for new technologies, like the drop in price that's been seen in the DVR market. Regarding how technology is shaping training, Rothenstein said that product development will always lead training. "A DVR is a network appliance," said Rothenstein, "and [these technologies] are forcing dealers to become more IT savy and to better understand IP."

We've also included a short section of pertinent quotes from of the discussion that Security Dealer's Susan Brady had with Rothstein during the distribution panel discussion.

On bringing aboard new products...
"Pioneers always have the arrows in their backs. We ask what is important to the existing dealer, and can they use it? Or does it sound good, but not really bring any value to the dealer? The company has to have the right technical support and training to support the product. The company must be strong and must be ready to work with the distributor and the dealer. There are four key components to success in our industry. 1) You must have a good product. 2) You must have a solid company with strong support. 3) You cannot saturate that product category. 4) You must maintain the relationship between the manufacturer, the distributor and the dealer."

On providing more than just commodities...
"Many distributors have the same products on the shelves with the exception of some access control products. It's all about solutions -- what access products work well with video and so forth. The systems solutions group can help distributors become more than just a commodity."

On the issue of training...
"Training is key from a sales and technical point of view. Successful dealers are very technology focused. How do you market a solution.? If you have a successful sales and marketing approach, it takes price out of the equation. Price becomes less important when it becomes a solution sale. The sales staff must lay out the value proposition."

On the role of protecting the channel...
"Quality distributors try to protect the channel and protect the dealer. If the product can be found on the Internet we won't take it on. This is the difference between a short-term sale and a long-term commitment. Part of our duty is to protect the professional installation company."

After wrapping up the distribution and channel discussion, and as day two came to a close, I had an opportunity to catch up with Aida Cardenas, the marketing manager for the Quantum Group, a manufacturer of carbon monoxide detectors. Aida felt the show was fairly strong with a great showing from the Latin American market. She said that, 90 percent of the attendees she met with spoke Spanish, and "those who have approached us already know our company." Cardenas said he learned a good deal about new regulations that have come to bear in the Latin American market that are OSHA-like in comparison. For example, she said, in Ecuador homes are now mandated to have CO detectors because of the recent volcanic activity.

As I close up my thoughts on day two at the Americas' Fire and Security Expo, it's clear to me that the Latin American and South American markets have become more important to U.S. manufacturers. With the recent launch of the ISC Brazil tradeshow, plus the success of Expo Seguridad, and global commitments for training and sales that companies like HID Global are making, we can expect this market to heat up even more over the next few years.