Anderson Lock: If we haven’t tested it, we don’t sell it

This is a special guest post from Kathi Frelk, Marketing Coordinator at Anderson Lock – “a total door opening supplier with an emphasis on doors, frames and electronic access controls.” I’ll admit I hadn’t known much about the company before they contacted me. Anderson Lock has been a family-owned business since 1960, with locations in Des Plaines and Schaumburg, Illinois. Two things that immediately set them apart in my opinion: the fact that Anderson Lock is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (rare in this industry), and the company’s rigorous quality standards, as you’ll read about below.

If we haven’t tested it, we don’t sell it.

For access control products, that foundational company philosophy is increasingly difficult to adhere to. New electronic security products are being introduced to the commercial / institutional marketplace with futuristic features that can’t even be seen or touched! IP (Internet Protocol) Networks are rapidly replacing hard-wired systems. IP and RF (Radio Frequency) are both wireless, but they don’t always work together. And, taking away wires is only one facet of multi-faceted electronic security products. New system configurations require new locking hardware. And each new device needs to be tested before we specify or install it.

Since 1960, Anderson Lock has earned respect from door hardware industry leaders by consistently providing quality products and services. Because we install the products we sell, some readjusting occurs on jobsites, when a customer calls with a problem. We’ve provided beta testing for many kinds of door hardware, giving valuable feedback to manufacturers.

An ever-changing variety of electronic door hardware products are installed on multiple doors on the Electronics Lab within our main office. Additional security products are installed inside the glass-walled lab, which is used for product testing as well as for training for both our lock technicians and our customers.

Anderson Lock spends at least two weeks testing each new product. “We run them through the courses,” says Jeff Parcell, our Access Control Manager, who thoroughly inspects each new device with forensic precision. He reads through all the product literature before taking it into Anderson Lock’s Electronics Lab, where he and his colleague, Jeff Asta, hook it up to other system components.

Keypads, key fobs, card readers, biometrics and pushbutton transmitters are all tested with locking devices. Ease of operation and installation are important considerations when deciding which products Anderson Lock will specify. Confirming product claims is an essential element of the testing process.

One product claim that didn’t “check out” in the real world “built environment” was for a networked access control lock that came with a claim for being able to work up to two hundred feet away from the control box. It worked if the distance was completely unobstructed, like in an open hallway. However, most of the existing hospitals and schools that would be interested in that particular lock would not have enough unobstructed “pathways” to make the product cost-efficient.

And cost is a key consideration for institutional, commercial and industrial customers. They expect high quality, heavy-duty, reliable security hardware, at a price that fits into their budget. They don’t seek fancy as much as functional.

When our experienced hardware sales representatives “troubleshoot” on the phones for products we’ve sold, they observe that the “problems” are frequently caused by “not following installation instructions” carefully. Electronic products require more attention during installation than traditional mechanical locks. Wires need to be carefully handled, and must not be pinched, cut or improperly connected.

Product testing is hands on. It is thorough. It is as objective as possible. We try to prevent “call-backs” …unless it is from a satisfied customer calling us back to do additional work!

Thanks again to Kathi Frelk and the Anderson Lock team for this great guest post. We welcome your comments below.