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An Absolute TITAN of the Lock Industry- CompX

An Absolute TITAN of the Lock Industry- CompX

"The industry, in general, is starting to move towards keyless access, as you've seen with everything. Automotive, for example, went away from the keys. Most cars now use fobs. So that same theory is going with the solutions of the indoor locks."David Dodd

Effectively, we are an official CompX distributor. They are stocking and selling all the different types of products. Get to know more about the Titan in the Lock Industry as David from CompX answers these questions.

PJ: Tell us about CompX and how it started.

David: CompX security products include four different brands - National Cabinet Locks, Timberline, Fort, and Chicago. National Cabinet Locks is the oldest of the brands and has been around for over 100 years now, and services markets including institutional furniture, the post office, all the postal locks. Timberline is primarily for the office furniture group. Then, Fort in Chicago has various other products, tubular locks, like an ACE lock.

PJ: So, it starts with one brand, and then you guys purchased other manufacturers?

David: Correct. All of those were individual companies, and then National Cabinet Lock purchased them and then became CompX.

PJ: Okay, so National was purchasing these companies and then kind of formed the umbrella name, so to speak, CompX?

David: Correct.

PJ: Okay. To people starting, if you've ever heard of ACE lock, they're referring to a tubular lock; that's one of CompX brands. Why isn't the ACE lock called the tubular lock?

David: It is a brand name. Aside from the tubular lock, we sell another lock through Fort, which is a GEM lock. It's also a tubular lock, so that tubular refers to the shape of the key itself. It's that round key constantly see in a metal box. You might have a tubular lock in a metal box for a key cabinet, that kind of thing, but it's just the shape of the key as opposed to the standard cam lock, which has flat keys, and in the case of most flat keys, they're single-sided, but we have also had double-sided keys. Once that, you can put it in either way, reversible.

PJ: Okay. So throughout the year, you're buying all these companies until CompX is a publicly traded company?

David: It is.

PJ: And what year did CompX become publicly traded?

David: I mean, it's been 20-30 years.

PJ: It was a while ago. So not only do you sell the cam locks and all that different key stuff. More recently, CompX has been coming out with electronic versions of those locks?

David: Right. And the industry, in general, is starting to move towards keyless access, as you've seen with everything. Automotive, for example, went away from the keys. Most cars now use fobs. So that same theory is going with the solutions of the indoor locks. While key blocks are still large, the bulk of what's being sold out there. The industry is moving towards a keyless operation. So, we have several different keyless solutions for your customers.

PJ: Okay.

David: And the industries themselves that are driving that tend to be healthcare-related. So the healthcare-related keyless locks started because of regulations. Almost everything is regulatory-driven. And in the case of healthcare, it's FDA. And what they're doing is they're locking medication for the most part, and in that case, they need to show evidence of who opened that door or drawer, what time it was, and the date. And so that's what our initial keyless lock, which is called the E-lock. That's where that lock came from. And over time, that's being used throughout the healthcare system. Still, in many other applications, they might not be locking up medication, and they're using a lock that has all of the different features, functions, and capabilities, but they're paying a little bit too much. So what we began developing were other keyless solutions for more, just supply-driven.

PJ: Okay, yeah, they don't need that audit trail on the cabinet lock, but they still want the convenience of a push-button.

David: Exactly. So we have a couple of different products out there: a stealth lock, which incorporates a transmitter pad, and then the locks or latches themselves can be operated with this transmitter pad. The beauty of that particular lock is that the transmitter pad can open up any number of latches within about a 25-foot radius. So for the example of an exam room, you might have 7, 10, 12 cabinet doors and drawers in that room. You can program them all to the same code and utilize the transmitter pads, say at the light switch. When the nurse comes in, she hits the code, and they open up all of the cabinets once, giving them the benefit of a keyless solution. It also gives her the ease of opening everything at once. And then, it can also be programmed to auto-lock so to lock automatically, so that is a lot of the drive for keyless solutions.

PJ: Yeah, I think it's great to see the progression from just your standard locks into what you're doing, what CompX does now.

David: Right.

PJ: And offers kind of start to finish with your different brands, like if you think of a cabinet type lock situation, CompX isn't something that's going to work.

David: We will have a solution.

PJ: Yeah.

David: From soup to nuts, from the most basic cam lock, your National Cabinet Lock C8053, all the way up to an E-lock that would be Wi-Fi capable and could even have temperature monitoring to it, so anything in between.

PJ: So I want to tell you about a couple of questions about manufacturing and that kind of stuff. So I don't know exactly how much you can say, you're not saying, so I'll ask him.

David: I'll tell you everything.

PJ: Okay. So CompX is a manufacturer and what I mean by that is like it's this common theme nowadays where some companies, everybody thinks makes the products. Still, in reality, they're just getting containers from overseas and putting them in their bag.

David: That's right.

PJ: Does CompX do that, or is CompX an actual manufacturer?

David: We make everything in the United States, so we're 100% United States-based.

PJ: Even the cam locks?

David: Everything, all the way down to the castings on the locks themselves, so we have three facilities. The main facility for National is out of Mauldin, South Carolina. We have the electronics division, which is out of Grayslake, Illinois. They also do the timberline, which tends to be more office furniture, and then we have a facility out of Rancho Cucamonga. Still, in those facilities, we do the manufacturing from the very beginning to the end, so we do our castings, our platings, and our powder coating. We do everything together, so that's why we have complete control. We have full engineering facilities there, depending on your project size. If you don't see something that's available, by all means, contact us because we may have already done it, or if the opportunity is presented to us, we could make something for you. So we have all of those capabilities.

PJ: Wow! So here we are, 2021, CompX making, manufacturing camlocks, all your stuff in the USA.

David: Yeah, actually, with what's been going on in 2020 and the limitations for stuff coming overseas, we're getting a lot more people buying domestically. They're pulling back in because they've been stuck with shipping issues. Things are on a container, they might just be stuck in port, but they can't get it to their customers in time. So it's worth it to them to pay maybe a little more money, but to know that the product will be there in time.

PJ: Well, and that's the thing that kind of surprises me a little bit because from my perspective of buying other cam locks and now buying CompX, there's like dramatic price difference between the different important ones and the CompX, so that's amazing.

David: It is, and there isn't a big difference, but what there was, as far as a difference, people took a risk, and they've learned their lessons, essentially, because quite honestly, a lot of our products are used, you might have a $5 product, a $5 lock going into a $10,000 job but if you can't ship that job because of a $5 lock, how much money did you save?

PJ: That's an excellent point. Now, I want to ask you another question. And thank you for that. That's good stuff. When it comes to OEM type of business, I'm under the impression that CompX is a major OEM supplier out there to other locks. Like are you able to kind of talk at all about some of those companies?

David: Yeah, we're an OEM supplier for our largest customers, the US Postal Service, so we do all the cluster box locks of 91- 200. On average, we're doing 40,000 locks a week with the USPS, so all of those lockboxes are our locks. We also have the contract throughout Canada, so all Canadian posts are all ours as well. But in some of the other industries we're in. We supply the ignition switches and the saddlebag locks for Harley Davidson. We do all of the T handles and all the locks in Coke, Pepsi vendo, all of them.

PJ: All the vending machines?

David: All the vending machines as well. So we're in any number of industries; we do all of the dispensers for gas stations, all the gas station pumps, those are our locks.

PJ: File cabinet locks?

David: Correct. Yeah. So like Han is a prominent manufacturer that we supply their locks. So there's many office furniture Cumani, another big technical furniture company out there, we provide all of their locks. So we do that, we do quite a few OEMs, and then we also like yourself, we handle with distribution as well, because those products will end up in your customer and then when they need to change out the locks, for example, either they've lost the keys, or they want to change the key codes. They're actively looking for how do I change out these locks? Often, the manufacturers quite honestly don't want to deal with lock situations, getting extra keys, that kind of thing, so that's where your company would come in.

PJ: Absolutely. Well, that is great, David. That's a lot of information. I mean, on the surface, a lot of people may know of CompX, but when you start to break it down into those four different brands and the OEM volume, I never knew that the CompX was making the Harley ignitions.

David: Yep.

PJ: Never knew that. Keys, do you guys sell keys, like can you sell keys to us?

David: So those would go through Harley. Often, even though we're supplying it to an OEM, you still have to go through the OEM to purchase those types of items. Often an OEM like Han will not want to deal with single keys, the selling of keys, or the selling of a core, that kind of thing, so those types of products may be available, so keep in mind checking the website often because those things might come up.

PJ: Okay. Very good. Well, hey, thank you for coming up here to Idaho for a little bit. I'm excited to start stocking and selling the CompX line.

David: Absolutely. We're looking forward to your business.

PJ: Thank you and everybody, thank you for watching. I'm interested if you learned anything, or did you know all of this? In the comments below, let us know what you think. Thank you, and we'll see you next time!

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