A new force to be reconed with in the electronic security industry is the LS Technology Group (LS),of which the well known LS Turnkey is one of four divisions .The company traces its origins bach to 1985 when it was established as a local operation of UK based Ludlam Sysco.This situation lasted only a short time before a buyout was initiated by the local management team and a close corporation using the name Ludlam Sysco was formed in 1986.
In April of that year the company secured its first (of many) major contract, valued at more than R5 million, the installation of a high-technology security system at one of the national key points. In 1988, the cc was purchased by the listed company Safetec and the name was changed to LS Turnkey. In 1991, the new management (including Safetec staff) implemented a management buyout, with 13 shareholders, including the current MD, Dries Krüger, taking control of the company. This remained the status quo until April this year when Business Bank and Gensec together acquired 40% of the equity.
The name of the holding company is now LS Technology Group which operates through four subsidiaries, LS Turnkey, LS Detention, LS Turnkey International and Sektron. All of these operate as proprietary limited companies, Cape-based Sektron having been acquired during 1994 to strengthen the company's capability to provide a comprehensive countrywide maintenance service. LS International is responsible for all export business excluding the continent of Africa.
The prime focus of LS is turnkey systems integration and through its broad-based electronic security expertise (built up over many years) it is able to design and implement integrated systems which meet the specific needs of many different clients. The actual installation of the hardware is sub-contracted but LS project manages this process and commissions the system using its own personnel. After acceptance by the client LS then offers ongoing customer service and upgrade options. According to Dries Krüger the success of the company and its solutions can be attributed to its ability to provide the electronic hardware and support software that furnishes management with the information (both video and data) that allows them to improve their bottom line through reducing risk.
A customer base to be proud of
The existing client base of LS is, to say the least, impressive and includes many high security operations including Intelligence Services, the oil and fuel depots of most large oil companies, electricity substations, mining houses, the Airports Company and embassies.
The largest single client is the SANDF which has used LS Turnkey to instal integrated electrified barrier and detection systems at major bases and ammunition storage depots throughout the country. The company is also responsible for the fully integrated security system installed at Number 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. The site of which the company is proudest is unequivocally the state-of-the-art system installed at ex-President Nelson Mandela's home in Johannesburg (something the British Royal family could do with!). Each of these major contracts was an individually tailored solution and technologies employed included electrified barriers, CCTV (with and without video motion detection), access control, asset tagging and fire detection.
LS Detention also provides total security solutions but the focus here is on customers such as prisons, police cells and magistrates courts. This market was aggressively entered only recently and the company is presently busy with three major prison projects which include internal and external security solutions. Negotiations are at an advanced stage with the new private prison operators. Obviously Dries Krüger believes that LS could contribute significantly to reducing the excessive number of escapes which are currently occurring from prison facilities, the present control systems being inadequate and outdated.
Although the existing customer base of LS lies mainly in areas of security and detention, the company is now broadening its horizon to include the commercial sector through offering that market the same level of service for building and facility management, including access control, asset management, staff security and fire detection.
The product range
While the business of LS is in the supply of integrated solutions these require many subsystems and the local company has carefully selected a number of world-leading international companies whose products meet its strict requirements in terms of reliability and state-of-the-art technology. Distribution agreements have been established with these companies which include Videotronics (Germany) for CCTV and other camera systems, Norment Industries (USA) for specialised detention equipment and Senstar/Stellar.
LS is currently in the process of finalising a licence agreement with the second largest electronic security company in the USA to allow it to offer an advanced range of products which will allow electronic monitoring of prisoners on parole or released on bail. This unique equipment would allow Correctional Services to deal with the increasing problem of crimes being committed by such felons when they are released back into society or are being transported between detention facilities.
LS produces its own range of advanced security products, specifically perimeter fencing intrusion detection equipment with the required communication and central control devices. A strain-wire intruder detection system was developed and patented in 1988 and Technifin provided a major investment for the commercialisation of this and other products during 1989.
Depending on the requirement of the customer three types of electrical fence solutions are offered, a low-voltage intrusion detection system, a nonlethal deterrent and a lethal system. All these systems offer dual-loop energisers which means that even with one loop disabled the fence will continue to operate at 50% efficiency. In most cases strain-wire detection systems are also incorporated into the single fence structure.
Entering the global marketplace
Following the management buy out in 1991, LS took the strategic decision to take a serious look at the market outside Africa, with the Middle East and North America being identified as priority markets. A significant investment in developing opportunities in these areas has resulted in encouraging successes, with VIP protection solutions having been sold into the Middle East, while the company is currently installing a unique electronic perimeter system at a prison in Boscobel in Wisconsin.
An agent has been appointed in Washington DC and suitable approved installers have been appointed in both regions. Krüger believes that the export business will contribute significantly to the bottom line over the next two years and plans are now in place to expand activities into Europe, Australasia and the Far East.
The LS 'total solution'
The core business of the LS Technology Group is in delivering solutions which may require resources, such as guards, which is not its main business. For this reason it has in place a strategic relationship with both guarding and rapid reaction companies which can provide such services. Another area which the company takes very seriously is customer service, as this is crucial to ensuring that the system operates optimally when it is really needed.
Most large installations are fully covered by ongoing maintenance and service contracts. The new relationship with The Business Bank and Gensec adds a further dimension to the totality of the service offered as it will allow LS to offer financial services packages to customers.
As for the future, Dries Krüger believes that LS Technology is already the leader in Africa when it comes to the provision of integrated electronic security systems and his vision is to see this position of dominance extended to the international arena. With the company's preceding history of satisfied customers and new business opportunities arising from their recommendations this objective should be within reach. With this expected growth in business both locally and internationally it is expected that the company will be listed on the JSE within the next two to three years, providing capital for further growth.
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