COMSEC repositions itself to tackle a changing security industry

August 2001 News & Events

Two years ago, almost to the day, Hi-Tech Security Solutions ran the following story: 'COMSEC Technologies sees the formation of a major new technology force' as the cover story of its July 1999 issue. It was reported at the time that the South African security industry "is set to witness the emergence of a major force resulting from the merger of SEE Group and Pi Electronic Security (a division of QD Electronics) into a new focused operation to be named COMSEC Technologies".

Well, much has happened over the ensuing two years, and in recent months several unrelated events have served to dampen COMSEC's business presence in the market. For instance, the company has had to relinquish the agency FBII (TeqTrader), a key component of its product portfolio. Whilst disillusioned by the fact that a "long and healthy relationship with its overseas suppliers, forged over 25 years" had come to a rather abrupt end, MD Brian Appleton (to his credit) refused to look backwards, choosing rather to articulate a vision for COMSEC moving forward.

"The 'reason to be' for COMSEC has not changed," he said, in answer to Hi-Tech's question as to whether the rationale for the merger of SEE Group and Pi Electronic Security to form COMSEC was, in hindsight, the correct one.

"As Pi and SEE addressed the same customers, with different product ranges, it made business sense to combine their expertise into a single focused operation structured for maximum market penetration. That is as true today as it was two years ago," he said.

Brian Appleton
Brian Appleton

Current status of the industry

According to Appleton there has been a definite change in the market structure, resulting in a continued need for rationalisation. Appleton also made reference to the recent mergers and acquisitions eg Chubb, ADT. "The way the market is going, there is a need for alliances in order to control your own destiny," said Appleton.

Reading between the lines, it is clear that survival in a consolidating market in which product margins are increasingly under pressure will see an increasing array of partnerships and alliances between companies as they seek to protect margins and marketshare.

As far as technology is concerned, Appleton stated that South Africans, in general, have a passion for technology and believes that applications such as wireless technology would do well in the local marketplace.

New products

In line with its vision of forging a way ahead, COMSEC has introduced a host of new products to the market. These include Viz Access, which is the Visonic Access Control range, the PI Codex range of remotes, and a new alarm control panel range which is due for launch later this year. Appleton mentioned that systems integration and home automation are also key areas that the company will focus on.

Furthermore, Appleton is of the firm belief that good customer service is paramount when it comes to providing a complete business solution. "It is not about moving or replacing boxes," he states. "We need to look at the bigger picture."

Conclusion

The underlying strength of COMSEC has always been its ability to offer in-house a total customer solution by providing technology innovation through its products. This is achieved by its capability to integrate the technologies of its major international branded products with that of its own locally manufactured products. This has not changed.

The current trends in the security industry have meant that many companies have had to review their business strategies, COMSEC included. But do not for a minute think that COMSEC will not remain a significant player in the local market. As a local manufacturer it simply has too much of a competitive advantage over imported products.





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