As Locks and Hardware marks an impressive 20 years in business, General Manager Conor Pitts explains how their expert and proactive approach to evolving building regulations is integral to success.
2020 has been unprecedented for business and society alike. But for architectural ironmongery distributor Locks and Hardware, this is a landmark year of pride and reflection as the business celebrates two decades of trading, innovation and growth.
From the start, the key to this thriving company has been the unmatched knowledge and adherence to ever-changing building regulations; staying up to date, stocking the right products and keeping their customers right.
According to General Manager Conor Pitts, ensuring compliance is the company’s top priority and Unique Selling Point.
But Locks and Hardware goes further; producing intelligent solutions that meet even the most stringent requirements. “This is where we can help builders’ merchants win more ironmongery site contracts.”
Helping customers navigate the latest regulations is just one of the ways in which Locks and Hardware goes the extra mile.
Double the services
Locks and Hardware comprises two solutions, Ironmongery and Retail Solutions, both based at their Dublin premises, which, located in Ballymount, offers fast access to the M50.
Each of the divisions has a dedicated showroom. The Retail Solutions showroom demonstrates the breadth of ideas Locks and Hardware can offer for stores, not just products, but advice, design and layout inspiration from a specialist staff.
As Conor explains, “The retail showroom allows us to show retailers what we could have their shop looking like.”An attractive, easy to shop environment makes a positive impact on sales.
“The Ironmongery showroom also allows us to support retailers, as their customers can come here to view our entire range, which is very comprehensive. Our retail customers do not have to feel limited by the available space within their shops,” Conor states.
Trusted brand partners
Locks and Hardware enjoys a strong relationship with their suppliers. This includes sister company Carlisle Brass, a UK market leader for Architectural Ironmongery, of which Locks and Hardware is the sole distributor in Ireland.
The firm also supplies ASSA Abloy, Union, Exidor, Stormguard, Frisco, Alubox, Mila, Allegion, Rothley, Codelocks, Iseo and many more quality names.
These relationships are essential to their supply chain says Conor. “We hold over 3000 stock-keeping units at any time. This is required to provide what we call the complete ironmongery solution and prompt delivery. Good partnerships allow us to cover 99% of what we are asked for.”
Among their service offerings for builders merchants; a full specification service, where commercial building plans are reviewed by the firm’s qualified spec team and every ironmongery specification is fed through the specification software.
This service was introduced in 2017 and Conor is delighted with its success. “It has proven to be a huge benefit to builders providers, as our spec support allows them to quote for business they might not have previously been in the running for.”
Investment in spec software and know-how exemplifies the culture of innovation at Locks and Hardware. “We are always trying to innovate our products, our range and the way our products are displayed,” notes Conor.
Listening and innovating
Some of the best ideas come from listening to customers. So Conor and his team strongly encourage collaboration with their retail and merchanting customers who have influenced and inspired innovative retail solutions. In 2017, following a suggestion from a merchant, Locks and Hardware launched a commercial door pack which contained all the basics required for a commercial door.
Today there are many different brands of commercial door packs on the market These include the mortice door knob pack which Locks and Hardware launched in 2018, again the result of customer feedback, which revealed that retailers were not comfortable selling knobs because of the accessories required.
“It has gone extremely well and we hope to add to this range in the future” said Conor.
Regulatory changes also fuel innovation. The company has made significant investments in their product range to meet the most current codes.
For example, Locks and Hardware introduced their Eurospec twolever lock (CE Marked and fire door rated) to all their Ultimate Door Packs, ensuring that all products are building regulations compliant.
Conor says this product upgrade is part of the company’s mission to provide total solutions for customers. “We hope to give the builders merchants peace of mind that when they sell our product, they can be confident it meets all building regulations requirements for new build and refurb/replacement work.”
Recent changes in the business explain the company’s dynamism and forward-looking ethos.
Founded in 2000, Locks and Hardware was acquired by the Arran Isle Group in 2007, along with sister company Carlisle Brass which was acquired the previous year. 2015 then saw the business taken over by a new management team, led by General Manager Conor Pitts.
Conor believes the secret to a healthy business is “a positive culture with the emphasis on customer service”. The management team are guided by this mantra; demonstrated by their enthusiastic commitment to training and development and product and industry knowledge.
A top team
The team of 20 staff have a wealth of experience and many are long-standing employees. With 18 years working with Locks and Hardware, Internal Sales Manager Neil Byrne is the longest serving team member. This specialist knowledge is critical to profitability. The staff have the expertise to closely monitor their figures and assess the right products to offer at the right time.
“It’s not about selling a product; it’s about selling the right product for the market and that only comes with experience.” He confirms that every individual on their team is recognised and valued for the essential roles they play.
Conor also took time to praise one of their newest hires, Oleh Syrotyuk, who joined the company this year as a sales representative under the tutelage of his Manager Pat O’Donovan.
“Oleh has thrived and is contributing to our business daily. His grasp of architectural ironmongery is exceptional and his attention to detail from a retail perspective is second to none,” commented Pat, who added that this was a sentiment shared by the entire Locks and Hardware team.
Oleh, along with another colleague, will be starting his Ironmongery education course this September with the Guild of Architectural Ironmongery, which highlights the importance Locks and Hardware place on training and development.
A further two staff members have already received their Ironmongery Diplomas following three years of study, while other employees completed the certificate in Architectural Ironmongery and five people have the Foundation in Hardware qualification. Employees are also taking role-related courses and IT training. Since the management change in 2015, the focus on training for all staff has gone from strength to strength.
For Conor, expertise is everything, driving business growth and exceptional customer service. “I want Locks and Hardware to be seen as the best in every area: best people, best product, best range, best point of sale, best IT systems, and best educated.”
No better foundation for the future, so Locks and Hardware has many reasons to feel confident.
Looking ahead, Conor and his experienced, enthusiastic team will continue to commit to constant development, using their combined industry knowledge, adherence to regulations and unique partnerships to keep success going strong.
Conor’s Number One piece of advice for builders merchants who want to ensure they are selling door packs that meet the building regulations: “Always ask your supplier for a copy of their locks and hinges DOP certificate which should be on their brand’s website. From an architectural Ironmongery perspective, a DOP will be required for locks, hinges, closers and panic hardware in all new build.”