Mutual Safe & Security, a safe manufacurer at heart.

Dec '99 Access Control & Identity Management

The Mutual Safe & Security Group ,under the leadership of Chairmen Arun Green ,diversified during the course of 1999 with the aim of providing a total security solutions of its broad client base.

From small beginnings in Pretoria, Mutual moved to its present factory premises in Waltloo, Pretoria in December 1995, and by March 1997 had introduced a specialised safe for the use of the cash-in-transit (CIT) industry. This product coupled with new exposure in the local market served to lift Mutual above the difficulties in the sector at the time, and into the front line.

In 1997, Parma Antonio and Figli, an old family owned safe company in Saronno, Italy acquired a 30% stake in Mutual, and the company soon benefited from this association with the arrival of high-tech machinery and European experience and technology.

Mutual continued to expand its export markets by participating in international trade shows. Aside from Securex (in South Africa), Mutual has exhibited at 13 international trade fairs to date in 1999 alone, in LA, London, Las Vegas, Dubai, Birmingham, China, Cincinnati, Korea, and Ghana, to name a few.

Says Mutual Chairman Arun Green, "We recognised that with security becoming tighter in South Africa due to the high risk environment in which we live, it was obvious that the point of crime was going to move to softer targets: the shops, shopping centre, stores and banks' point of cash collection. It was increasingly clear that one had to move the cash from this target to an out-of sight, possibly out-of-store secure area."

Pneumatic cash transfer systems

To meet this need Mutual launched a new division in 1998 specialising in pneumatic cash transfer systems, and in 1999 the company completed several air-tubing installations for retails stores, petroleum companies and a large banking conglomerate.

Says Green, " Moving cash by pneumatics has proved to be cost effective and efficient, dramatically reducing the risk to customers and staff during cash collections."

Products and technology

Mutual of course is renowned for its expertise in the world of locks and safes, or physical security. Says Green, "There is a safe for every possible application. Safes, however, should not be confused with lighter equipment such as secure containers and cash boxes. Safes are in a category of their own and have been graded by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) into various categories depending upon the protection level required.

"In turn the insurance industry has decided on the 'cash risks' it is prepared to accept for each category," he says. "When doing this the insurance company will take into account many other aspects such as location and other forms of protections (alarms, manned guards, CCTV etc).

"In light of the systematic grading of safes, and their relative importance as an asset protector, potential buyers would be well advised to beware of purchasing 'used' safes, as the history of these is not always clear and the product may have been compromised.

Strongroom doors and locks

"The same grading criteria is applied to the recordroom and strongroom door range of products, and in this instance it is necessary to ensure that the correct walls are in place to match the security of the door to be installed. Strongroom ventilators are a requirement in all instances," he says.

Different locking mechanisms are available on all safes ranging from combination locks, keylocks, time watch and time delay locks or a combination of more than one.

Says Green, "Not only are security safes for the protection of cash and valuables available, but specifically designed products are produced for the protection of paper and data records (eg computer and filing cabinets). We consider that South Africa still has some way to go when it comes to awareness of the threat of fire to their businesses, perhaps understandably as our main concern, as South Africans, has been protection against robbery and theft.

"The reality though is that more money is lost annually to industry and commerce through destruction by fire than through appropriation by criminals," he adds.

"Statistics record that more than 56% of all companies affected by a serious fire go out of business due to loss of records and trading information. This is not the case when a business is robbed."

Mutual of course offers a range of high quality cabinets for the protection of documents and data against fire.

Says Green, "A point that should always be remembered is that good security is the sum of all the protective measures that are applied, and electronic and physical security systems are complementary to one another. A good quality safe can and must be seen as the last line of defence in protecting cash and valuables."

Industry trends

"These are exciting times in the safe industry and South Africa is able to play a leading role in the development of this industry due to the high incidence of crime in our country. A few years ago we typically followed the lead of the big international names in the game, but now times have changed and our industry has been forced to accelerate its learning curve and implement new technology. Our markets have changed in as much as the SA safe industry no longer enjoys the luxury of being nicely fed by banking and financial institutions, and the banks have (and will continue to) consolidate their businesses and their requirements for safe have lessened due to the implementation of alternative security measures.

"The South African business structure has also changed, becoming far more entrepreneurial and democratic, and Mutual has had to move with the times. I feel we have largely accomplished what we set out to do six years ago. Our turnover has tripled and continues to increase. Our exports markets are firmly established and Mutual is a well known name in the international safe industry. We have established a new factory plant in George in the Cape, and we will soon be exporting to China," he says.

"Our diversification into related products has been an exciting development in our business and enable the company to offer customers a total security solution as well as physical security in the form of a safe.

"However we may develop as a company in the years to come, we shall always be a safe manufacturer at heart and the safe making tradition will carry on at Mutual."

For details contact Mutual Safe on tel: (012) 803 6051 or fax: (012) 803 8677.

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