Integrator Thinks Big by Staying Small
Small integrator Stone Security has worked with a number of large customers, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, taking advantage of its exclusive partner relationships with companies like Axis, Milestone, Firetide and S2 Security. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE SECURITY
Generally speaking, most integrators find that the best path to success is by offering a full suite of products and solutions from a number of manufacturers. Stone Security, however, has achieved success using a very different approach.
With a staff of eight — including one salesperson — the family-owned company, based in Salt Lake City, chose to partner with just one manufacturer in each product category it sells and installs. Brent Edmunds, Stone Security’s sales account manager and part owner of the company, says these strong partnerships are the cornerstone to the company’s growth and success in its market.
“We consider ourselves to be like In-and-Out or Five Guys; you take a look at their menu, and all they do is burgers,” he says. “We believe in doing one thing and doing it well. We want to be experts, so we’ve picked the best products, created strong partnerships and only offer those partners’ products.”
Edmunds says that while Stone Security works with a number of partners to cover every aspect of video, access control and intrusion detection, the majority of the company’s sales involve one or more of its “big three” partners: Axis Communications, Milestone Systems, and S2 Security. The company also extends this exclusivity to its choice of distributor, working solely with Anixter.
Stone Security’s loyalty has been not only recognized, but also rewarded in the form of partner of the year awards from both Axis and Milestone.
“To be recognized with their top award is pretty unique for a smaller integrator like us,” he says. “Those awards say something. We were shocked, but at the same time we’re proud to be recognized for our 100 percent loyalty and commitment to their products.”
Edmunds may be Stone Security’s one-man sales team, but he says he doesn’t necessarily work alone.
"On a lot of levels, our partners’ reps are an extension of our business. If they have an opportunity, they pass it along,” he says. “They know if they bring Stone Security into the deal, they know exactly what they’re getting. It’s an ecosystem that’s really tight and really loyal. There’s real synergy because we’re all pushing each other’s business, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
While his company has chosen and had success with this particular business model, Edmunds is quick to point out that that doesn’t mean other integrators’ models don’t work.
“Most integrators have open options for VMS, cameras and access, and take pride in being able to offer that range of products — and that’s not a bad thing,” Edmunds says. “Some people may take a similar approach but choose different partners they feel are a better fit for them.”
That’s not to say there hasn’t been a down side to Stone Security’s laser focus on exclusive partnerships from time to time, Edmunds says.
“Selling and supporting what we feel are the best-in-breed companies for video and access control works well for us. We do lose business at times because we’re rigid about what products we offer, but we win a lot of business with our model, too,” he says.
One reason Stone Security chose its particular partners is because of the breadth and depth of their product lines, which provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to meeting end users’ needs.
“Axis has a full range of products, from a $179 camera all the way up to a $2,500 thermal camera and everything in between,” he says. “And Milestone has five products, ranging from a $5 monthly license to a $330 monthly license. So really, we can find something that works for anyone, from small to large customers.”
On rare occasions, Stone Security will honor an existing customer’s desire to source another manufacturer’s product, but Edmunds says those instances are few and far between.
“There are a few exceptions where someone who’s already a client just has to have a Mobotix camera that does XYZ, for example, and we’ll do that. We’re not crazy,” he says. “Generally speaking, that’s the way it works about 2 percent of the time.”
Focusing on a narrow set of products not only streamlines the sales process, but it also lessens the challenge of keeping up to date with rapidly changing technologies. “Familiarity with a product line means you can present well to customers and potential customers,” Edmunds says.