American Nutrition is one of the major players in the pet food manufacturing industry with more than $350 million in revenue each year. Originally founded in 1972 by Jack Behnken as Animal Nutrition, the company produces pet food, biscuits and snacks for private labeling worldwide as well as its own brands, which include Atta Boy, Atta Cat and VitaBone.
Today, American Nutrition is still a family business, run by Jack’s son Bill Behnken at its original headquarters in Ogden, Utah. Its 24-hour-a-day manufacturing plant and office building is not only the company’s headquarters — it’s also American Nutrition’s biggest manufacturing facility at around 350,000 square feet.
Four decades after its start, the company has expanded to more than 450 employees and four manufacturing plants in the United States: Ogden, Utah; Phoenix, Ariz.; Woodland, Wash.; and Hazleton Township, Pa. Within a six-month period, American Nutrition busily ships close to 450,000 pallets of pet food out of its facilities.
As the pet food industry has expanded, manufacturers are now under constant scrutiny from suppliers, customers and the FDA, which regulates the production of pet foods more closely than ever before. With these additional customer demands and regulations has come increased responsibility from the industry to closely monitor its product processes and American Nutrition has taken its responsibilities very seriously.
Just a few years ago, American Nutrition decided it needed to implement a security plan at its headquarters, as previously, the location did not have any access control, surveillance or monitoring in place. It also wanted to implement access control and security at its newest, 200,000-square-foot plant in Hazleton Township, Pa. With new regulations as well as the company’s own internal needs in mind, American Nutrition began looking for a way to more closely monitor activity at the 300-employee Utah headquarters, and the 50-employee Pennsylvania location.
“The pet food industry has really evolved and has become more regulated,” said Duane Goff, director of MIS at American Nutrition. “Our customers and FDA requirements were the initial drivers for looking at an access control system.”
As the company began looking for an integrator to help them find a solution, it was important that they had a national focus so that American Nutrition could expand its security to other locations when needed and keep one point of contact for design, installation and troubleshooting.
“We looked into several companies and toured their installations and facilities, but we really needed someone with experience and knowledge that would help us expand to different locations,” said Goff. He and the team at American Nutrition decided to employ AlphaCorp Security, a West Valley, Utah, security systems integrator and a member of Security-Net, a national network of systems integrators, to design and install an access control system, along with cameras and temperature monitors, to meet the company’s security needs.
“We tried to create a vision for them and solutions that would meet both their initial security needs and in the future,” said Dave Porter, General Manager of AlphaCorp Security, about meeting with American Nutrition to review its security needs. “We were also one of the only vendors that talked about protecting other facilities across the country and how they could have one platform, one database and one management tool to secure their other buildings. They saw value in that.”
Given AlphaCorp’s affiliation with Security-Net, it provided American Nutrition with access to a national partner for when the pet food company wanted to expand the access control at its headquarters to its remote location in Pennsylvania, and keep them both on one centralized network.
“With Security-Net, American Nutrition was able to get a single point of contact through AlphaCorp, and also have the ability to work nationally without needing to find a new integrator at each location,” explained J. Matthew Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa.
In addition to a company with a national reach, American Nutrition was looking for a system that was reliable and easy to use so that users could be easily managed and granted access rights locally or remotely on the network. With the help of AlphaCorp, American Nutrition chose the Lenel OnGuard access control system, which would meet the company’s requirements to expand its access control to other facilities and be able to remotely manage access from its headquarters in Utah.
The project began with AlphaCorp installing approximately 30 readers on the outside and inside of American Nutrition’s Utah facility, along with surveillance cameras and temperature probes, which were needed to monitor freezers in the facility to alert personnel in case of a power outage. With the manufacturing facility operating 24 hours a day, sometimes seven days per week, management wanted to be notified of security breaches or temperature drops, which could put frozen or refrigerated ingredients at risk.
Another reason that the company wanted access control and surveillance was to secure the facilities from outside intruders and control traffic flow inside the plants. “Before, the building was completely open,” Goff said. “People were able to come in from the street selling donuts. We wanted to keep out people that shouldn’t be coming inside and also make certain areas of the facility accessible to certain people only.”
Just securing the area was not enough for American Nutrition. Management needed a system that could be monitored and managed easily. “We’ve had other systems in other plants that haven’t been easily administered,” Goff said. “With a lower-end access control system that we have at another location, it is difficult for staff to change access rights, and set up and disable users. With the Lenel system, I can add people and change rights with a few keystrokes. That was a good selling point for us.”
American Nutrition also realized benefits from other system features such as reporting and alarms. “We send alarms to certain people if a door is left ajar or has been propped open. We can also control different things like seeing who is at a specific door and remotely letting them in if we know who they are,” Goff explained.
Over time, American Nutrition has increased the number of card readers at its Ogden facility to more than 50, with the bulk of them on the outside perimeter of the building. In addition to the outside doors, the system controls entry to a large garage door, as well as an ingredient panel to keep ingredients secure and unhampered. “That was a unique concern for us: keeping malicious people out of our ingredients,” Goff shared.
After seeing the immediate benefits of curbing unauthorized access and safeguarding its manufacturing facility, American Nutrition turned to Security-Net again, when it was ready to implement phase two of the project. With the help of AlphaCorp as the lead Security-Net partner, access control and surveillance was installed by The Protection Bureau at American Nutrition’s Pennsylvania facility, and the Lenel system was linked to the Utah headquarters on the network. Both integrators were able to work seamlessly together to install a system that met American Nutrition’s security needs.
The Protection Bureau installed 11 readers, as well as the Lenel OnGuard access control system, a few cameras and temperature sensors, at the 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and office building.
While many of the security needs at the two facilities mirrored each other, the most important aspect of choosing an integrator and access control system for American Nutrition was being able to have the Pennsylvania facility remotely managed from the Ogden headquarters.
“We needed to be able to link the systems through OnGuard all on the network,” Goff explained. “The office manager in Pennsylvania is able to add users and change access rights, and management in Utah also is able to perform access control functions and check in on the facility at any time. “We can log on and lock or unlock a door at will and even lock the system down so that no cards will work. It’s very flexible software and that’s what we really needed.”
Another benefit of the multi-location system, which appealed to American Nutrition, was the ability to use the same card or keyfob at both facilities. “There are great advantages to being able to have everything integrated and having your keyfob work at multiple locations,” Goff added.
As the pet food market has grown and expanded, American Nutrition found its security needs expanding as well. Before partnering with AlphaCorp and The Protection Bureau to design and install an access control system at multiple facilities, American Nutrition had no way of keeping track of who was in its buildings or outside the perimeter. Now, not only can company personnel manage access rights, update users and manage individual door settings, but they can do it all from their desk at their headquarters.
“It was really important for American Nutrition to be able to have a system that could expand with their needs, as well as have the capability to be network-based so that they could manage their sites all from the headquarters,” Ladd observed. “Whether they need to program on a local or national basis, it can all be done with this one, centralized system.”
Porter credits having built a strong customer-client relationship with American Nutrition as the reason behind the success of the multiple location security project.
“We continue to talk to them about their future security needs, such as visitor management and expanding their surveillance capabilities,” Porter said. “This business is about relationships and we’re proud to be considered a trusted partner by American Nutrition.”