People generally assume that bad news is good news for the physical and bulletproof security industries. But Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards has found that the news cycle has less impact than people think. TSS might see a spike in inquiries following some mass violence or unrest that gets extensive news coverage, but these inquiries rarely lead to a new bulletproof system. A good bullet-resistant barrier is an investment, and TSS has found that no business makes a big investment based on a breaking news item.
“Our business isn’t surging,” Jim explains, “but it isn’t going away, either. The political or cultural environment doesn’t change that one way or the other. Regardless of which way the wind blows, there’s still going to be a need for improved security. There’s still crime, there’s still uneasiness.” And amid that unease, there is a deeper need for bulletproof security barriers that don’t just protect an environment; security barriers should look good and flow into the entire aesthetic and structure of the building. As TSS sales manager Tina Fuson explains, “Jim is incredibly focused on visibility and making people feel like they’re not stuck in an aquarium. He’s very in tune with what these products look like, and how they flow into a customer’s world.”
But Jim knows that now and in the future, it’s local glaziers and contractors, not big firms like TSS, that will handle the bulk of security installations. “These local companies,” Jim finds, “they just don’t have access to the engineering capabilities we have, or machinery, or the fabrication resources. But the service they offer their customers is absolutely excellent. They are a huge asset to their community.”
That’s why TSS is exploring and developing new strategies for helping local contractors and glaziers grow into doing bulletproof security installations of the highest caliber.
Where Local Bulletproof Installations Go Wrong
Jim sees a lot of critical mistakes with fasteners. “Trying to run a screw right into the acrylic, that’s about the worst thing you can do,” Jim explains. “Try that, and you’ll need to buy a new piece of glazing. That is an expensive lesson.” The experts at TSS have come to learn that even if you pre-drill and tap acrylic, it might not turn out how you’d expect. Especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with these materials. That transparent piece might look good as soon as the install is complete, but over time, if that piece flexes at all, it’s going to crack and shift.
Local shops have a highly manual approach to design. “They draw everything by hand—as they don’t have access to some of the computer-aided design tools we do.” Drawing by hand, as one could imagine, often results in either over or under tolerance pieces. Inaccurate measurements can make for a tricky installation, and TSS has found that the systems typically don’t stand the test of time.
Local contractors and glaziers start out at a disadvantage, in that their only option is to buy raw pieces of bullet-resistant glazing and try to craft something based on what they’ve seen out in the world. But because they’re using conventional tools, what they can fabricate is sharply limited.
“On top of that,” Jim points out, “It’s often only the first or second time they’ve done it. There’s a learning curve to anything. Obviously, if they did enough bulletproof installations, they’d get better, refine their skills., and figure out where they needed to improve. It might even make sense to invest in some of the proper tools. But if it’s the first one or second one, and it comes out looking sloppy, then they aren’t going to get that opportunity to learn.”
Joint Selling Bulletproof Security
TSS is eager to support local glaziers and general contractors with expanding their business to include enhanced physical security barriers and bullet-resistant glazing. Even master glaziers tend to have minimal experience with bullet-resistant materials and are essentially amateurs when it comes to those types of systems. “But they can get good at it,” Jim explains, “given enough jobs and a little guidance. That’s what we want to foster.”
“People are always concerned that we want to steal the customer and go direct. I get that—every local business is naturally worried about drawing attention from some national firm that’s going to swoop in. But that’s just not what we’re looking to do. We can’t be everywhere with our installation teams—and don’t want to be. We cannot provide the level of service you can provide. For one single location in Roanoke, VA, or Lincoln, NE, we can’t come close to touching that level of service you provide. As a local glazier or contractor, you’re right there. That’s ideal.”
What TSS can do is supply you with that design, engineering, fabrication, and installation support, so that you can bring your community top-notch security and aesthetics. This is most successful when TSS is there to support you from the start. TSS can have a representative right beside you for your call or presentation. That rep will explain protection levels and material types, and field questions from the end-user. “You’ll hold the paper and service the buyer,” Jim explains, “we’ll handle and deliver all the bulletproof elements for you to install. We want to build relationships with local glaziers and contractors, to give them the confidence to look for and complete more of these projects.”