Honeywell announced this week that it is creating one comprehensive business unit to specifically focus on fire safety markets. Honeywell Fire Safety will comprise the company’s Fire Systems – the brands of Fire-Lite Alarms, Gamewell-FCI, NOTIFIER, and Silent Knight – and the System Sensor businesses.
“These internal changes are about improving our service to customers and raising the bar on the level of innovation we provide the marketplace. Those are the only changes our customers should see,” new Honeywell Fire Safety president Gary Lederer said in a statement. Lederer is taking over for Mark Levy, who is retiring after 15 years as president of Honeywell Life Safety.
To get the scoop on what impact this might have on the security dealer/integrator community, I sat down with Todd Rief, vice president of Honeywell Fire Systems Americas in this exclusive “Manufacturer 1-on-1” Q&A.
SIW: What was the impetus for this re-organization – was it end-user demand, dealer/integrator concerns, something based on market research, an internal decision, or something else?
Rief: Mark Levy announced his retirement after more than 40 years serving the fire industry. For the past 15 years, Mark has resided over the various Honeywell Life Safety businesses and with his guidance, we decided to take a closer look at our current structure to optimize it to the benefit of our customers. Formerly what was known as Honeywell Life Safety (HLS) is now being separated into two focused business units: Honeywell Fire Safety (HFS) and Honeywell Industrial Safety (HIS).
HFS focuses primarily on commercial end-user markets and comprises all of our Honeywell-endorsed fire brands as well as System Sensor. HIS is focused on industrial customers and includes Honeywell Analytics’ portable and fixed gas detection devices, and Honeywell Safety Products, which offers head-to-toe personal protective equipment, both big players in industrial end user markets.
Breaking our prior Life Safety unit into two pieces lets us better align with customer needs; we can better focus on customer segments and channels to market. Where a lot of our competitors have fire aggregated under one umbrella organization with other businesses, we feel fire deserves its own business.
SIW: Will this consolidation have any effect on the dealer channels of any of these brands from a day-to-day business perspective?
Rief: This change is not a consolidation by any means. Earlier in the year we re-aligned the sales leaders of our Fire Systems brands to better focus on our channels to market, but today’s re-organization should have no change on dealers’ businesses. However, tomorrow they should expect a broader range of more innovative technologies from us.
SIW: Will these brand names live on, or will everything now be branded as “Honeywell Fire Safety”?
Rief: Yes, we will maintain and continue to invest in the same Honeywell-endorsed Fire Systems brands we currently know – Fire-Lite Alarms, Gamewell-FCI, NOTIFIER and Silent Knight.
SIW: What about already-released individual products from each brand? Will some of the duplicate products be removed from distribution?
Rief: We plan to keep previously-released products and maintain our multi-branded offerings.
Will Honeywell have more products to offer or fewer with this move?
More! For example, our Asian and European fire businesses have expanded into the PA (public address) markets, which might open the window to us in the Americas to investigate entering those markets as well.
We are leveraging Honeywell enablers such as Velocity Product Development, Honeywell User Experience and the Software-as-a-Service movement to expand our brands’ breadth of new products. This will move us faster into adjacent spaces such as wireless, eVance, intelligent aspiration, and more core fire and emergency communication systems offerings.
SIW: In the past, each brand had engineered systems distributors that could only sell one brand. Will they go away, be combined or be allowed to sell any Honeywell-branded fire systems?
Rief: There are some brands like NOTIFIER that have exclusive distribution, and there are some engineered systems distributors that can carry more than one of our other lines of fire alarm brands. We don’t plan to combine or change that – we are committed to our multi-brand, multi-channel strategy. And we will continue to invest in the current business model where we train dealers and ESDs, enabling their businesses to bring these products to market. In addition, we’ll continue to provide world class technical support, available in real-time, the latest information and videos and blogs on line, webinars, distributor learning conferences, and extensive customer service assets to ensure our partners are the best fire alarm and emergency communications solvers they can be.
SIW: How do you see this re-organization enabling Honeywell to be more innovative in creating new fire protection products, when these brands appeared to be competing in the past?
Rief: This is an elevation of the fire business within Honeywell, and our multi-brand strategy actually spawns innovation, not squashes it. Now we can focus on the global fire market, which affords us the opportunity to share technology, explore new markets and permit more globalization of our brands.
Paul Rothman is Editor in Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator magazine (www.secdealer.com).