Why Distributors Face Being Squeezed from the Security Industry

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Distributors are at risk of being left behind within the security industry unless they reassert their position within the supply chain says Brendan McGarrity, director of fire and security systems business, Evolution Risk & Design.

For a long time, the security industry has followed a distinct pattern of manufacturers, distributors and installers working in the same supply chain. But these ‘traditional’ models are quickly becoming abandoned as distributors are being slowly squeezed out of the industry as the end-user becomes more informed.

Unless they take action, there is a very real danger of the distributor being considered – unfairly in many instances – as little more than a ‘box-shifter’, a necessary but irritating barrier to a more productive conversation.

Distributors could benefit from much closer relationships with integrators and other partners to better understand the technology they are selling, and the real value it can deliver and I urge them to fight back as they still have a vital role to play within the security supply chain and long may it continue, but they need to be more assertive, and more aligned with the systems integrators they serve.

Not everything … in a systems business can be commoditised.


Not everything, for example, in a systems business can be commoditised. Individual components within a total system represent only a small part of the total cost. I believe that distributors need to make this clear, especially when dealing with procurers who appear to know the cost of everything but are a little hazier on the value and need support in arguing for the total cost of ownership as opposed to a single, transactional ‘price’.

A camera is not just a camera; a camera can be a critical element of a wider system whose ‘value’, therefore, is more important than its unit price. I can always find you a ‘cheaper’ camera, and distributors will sell you one, but the true cost of doing so is not always understood and may only be truly known when that camera fails.

The truth of the matter is that we all need each other. Clients are driving change and that has to be a good thing. It is right to be challenged.

To best serve their needs, serious integrators will need to work even harder with their manufacturing partners and distributors to understand the technology available, and the real value it can deliver.

Brendan McGarrity

Brendan heads up the Risk and Design division at Evolution and is a Member of the Security Institute and the Association of Security Consultants. Brendan is a physical security, risk and assurance specialist, having worked in the military and with a wide range of FTSE100 clients. Outside of work, and when not cooking, Brendan enjoys training for the Total Warrior challenge. Brendan is also a member of the Stamford amateur dramatic society where his stage set building is renowned.

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