How does a traditional door and hardware distributor plan for the future in a world increasingly driven by technology and data? If you’re American Direct, you purchase an access control software company.

Byron Whetstone, president and CEO, founded American Direct in 1989 from his home. Today, the company employs 235 employees across the U.S., with offices in 17 major markets and more than $100 million in annual revenue.

American Direct grew to be one of the nation’s largest distributors of doors, frames and hardware. The business was humming along, but according to Whetstone, something was changing within the industry.

Technology was constantly improving and there was an accelerated convergence of the mechanical, electrical, and electronic components of the door opening. In 2016, the CSI specification for electronic locks migrated from Division 8 (Doors, Frames and Hardware) to Division 28 (Electronic Safety and Security).

“Today, a door is no longer ‘just a door;’ it’s a real-time digital portal in an ongoing flow of data,” Whetstone said. “With increasingly complex and interconnected door openings, integration has become more important, yet existing Division 8 and Division 28 sales channels are still very fragmented.”

Whetstone continued, “Even the most advanced access control solutions are all too frequently being driven by a low-bidder mentality, where the physical, electronic, software and digital solutions are provided by multiple purveyors in a complex, inefficient interaction.”

To bolster its long-term growth, American Direct developed a new 8/28 channel strategy, acquiring AccessNsite — a database-independent, open-source access control solution — from Quintron Systems Inc. in early 2016. Since the acquisition, American Direct has invested close to $1 million in its development, including six major software upgrades.

The acquisition and development of AccessNsite has enabled American Direct to provide both Division 8 and Division 28 products, service and expertise. In April 2017, they unveiled this 8/28 solution at ISC West in Las Vegas.

Whetstone said, “With our 8/28 strategy, we have become the only company combining Division 8 and Division 28 product, service and expertise to deliver totally integrated solutions at the door opening.”

To execute national delivery on their 8/28 strategy, American Direct developed an Elite Partner Program: a network of experienced integrator partners across the U.S.

“Our Elite Partner Program presents a true win-win between us and our partner integrators,” Whetstone said.

According to Whetstone, the door opening will continue to evolve, requiring in-depth expertise and attention in every phase.

“At the end of the day, this 8/28 approach to safety and security saves all of us time, money and stress,” Whetstone said. “Most important, though, it ensures we are able to create more secure spaces for people to work, learn and live.”