• Greg Kern

The Kern Group - Security Integrators Reveal Their Favorite Brands, How to Earn Their Business

January 03, 2018 Scott Goldfine

Wonder what makes a security integrator pledge loyalty to a particular product brand or what sways that same company to jump ship? SSI’s 2017 Top Market Leaders reveal their top 5 access, fire, intrusion and video brands. Only about one-third (32%) of installing security integrators and dealers believe the prices their manufacturers and wholesale distributors charge them for products are generally fair and reasonable. Almost half (49%) say certain items are overpriced and more than 17% contend all products are too expensive. That according to Security Sales & Integration’s most recent Operations & Opportunities Report (August 2017). And yet price was seldom mentioned and never the No. 1 factor when several of the industry’s leading security firms were asked why they select or discard brands. The much more subjective and broader term of value is referenced much more frequently. While price naturally plays into a value assessment, typically much more impactful to integrators and dealers are qualities such as support, features, reliability, loyalty and compatibility.


As part of selecting 2017’s Top 75 Market Leaders in October, SSI asked those high profile and proven integrators to identify their preferred brands in the major product categories of access control, fire safety, intrusion detection and video surveillance.

Those results were compiled to determine the top five vendor listings featured in this article. As a follow-up to the initial Market Leaders process, those firms were subsequently asked to respond to two questions. They were: 1) What are the three most important reasons your company chooses a product brand? 2) What are the three leading reasons your company might change brands?


In all, 17 Market Leaders stepped up — offering varying degrees of detail — to share how they judge their supplying technology partners. About the Market Leaders program: The selection process was based on integrators’ percentage of total revenues measured against vertical market concentrations.

The majority of those making the cut submitted entries during 2017 with the balance being chosen by SSI’s editors based on their significant standing in the industry.

The 75 recognized firms spanned the 12 vertical markets of education, financial institutions, gaming/hospitality/arenas, government, healthcare, houses of worship, industrial manufacturing, mass public transportation, office buildings, residential, retail/entertainment, utilities/infrastructure, plus an other category.

At the end of the day, integrators rely on their suppliers to help them delight their clients and turn a reasonable profit. Just as end customers are looking for painless, hassle-free solutions to their needs or wants, so too are the security professionals that serve them.

They have found the sources to fulfill that in the manufacturers included among the top five lists presented here. Congratulations to them! Now take a look and see if the Market Leaders’ make-or-break criteria match that of your business.

Top 2 Reasons a Market Leader Chooses a Brand

Kern Group Solutions Scott Kern, Managing Partner

1. When we select a brand to offer to our customers for their security requirements it’s paramount that the brand be trustworthy, which conveys to our customers peace of mind when buying through our recommendations. We tend to remain loyal to our core brands for years once we have established that they deliver and have passed our trust standards.

2. The manufacturer of the brands we sell must have solid, reliable inside & outside sales and technical support. They should offer ancillary resources such as certified training, registered pricing, discounted demonstration equipment, etc. As an example, one of our video brands, Axis Communications, has some of the finest presales and postsales support in the industry.

3. The brand has to fit within our design and sales process. We only carry and specify two or three brands for most of our core business categories of video, access, intrusion and fire. We can’t be everything to everybody and have no desire to be. When we select a brand to carry we are very loyal and invest our time and money to learn that product. This allows us to offer our customers real value and expertise in relation to the product and its real-world capabilities.

Kern Group Security Solutions

Scott Kern, Managing Partner

1. Manufacturers that perform a “disappearing act” from remaining in contact with us is the main reason. Brands should not assume that an integrator will always be buying their product regardless of the level of support they receive. When we fail to learn about new products, systems and technical procedures from our sales point of contact we begin to look elsewhere for a similar product and brand that keeps us in the loop as a dealer.

2. Long holds for phone support is very frustrating to integrators. A technician in the field can’t stay on hold for long when they have several appointments to keep during an average day. Time is money. Extended hold times are something we keep track of and could be an influencing factor if we change brands.

3. Brands that don’t have reliable sales staff that won’t answer their phone or return emails will get us looking for new avenues quickly. Our customers don’t like to wait long for specific information that we may not readily have available. Information we must get from the brand itself. Losing a customer because we can’t get brand information in a timely manner is a big reason for us to change products.