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Alex Housten | COO | Dormakaba Americas

Alex Housten | COO
Dormakaba Americas

"We’re not just doing this for our own solutions – we partner with the leading electronic access control software companies in the marketplace to ensure our solution is compatible, because we believe we offer more customer value together"

10 Most Innovative Leaders of 2020

Making Buildings Smarter & More Secure

The 2015 merger of DORMA and Kaba has formed an industry leader and trusted source for security and access control solutions. With over 150 years of experience and millions of installations worldwide ranging from pushbutton locks and door closers to entrance systems, interior glass, and fully networked and integrated access control solutions, dormakaba is a reliable partner for secure and flexible access to buildings and rooms.The 2015 merger of DORMA and Kaba has formed an industry leader and trusted source for security and access control solutions. With over 150 years of experience and millions of installations worldwide ranging from pushbutton locks and door closers to entrance systems, interior glass, and fully networked and integrated access control solutions, dormakaba is a reliable partner for secure and flexible access to buildings and rooms.

Through their comprehensive product portfolio, architects, designers, property managers, and owners need not look far to find solutions that satisfy all facility safety, security, and performance challenges. The company has developed a full, comprehensive product line with a customer-first mindset. “We call it a one-stop-shop,” says Alex Housten, COO of dormakaba Americas. “While the unique capabilities of our various channel partners add an amazing amount to our value, to architects and specifying engineers, we can offer a truly comprehensive product lineup for their specification, while also maintaining a best-in-class. No compromises have been made to deploy our products across the full range.”

It begins with door hardware and mechanical key systems, and extends through automatic entrance systems, with high-technology and specialized application, whether it’s revolving doors or sliding, automatic doors of the highest architectural quality and acoustic level, and it continues from there with electronic access and data solutions, mobile credentials, and identity management. dormakaba’s product lines enable a true dormakaba building with the highest security and touch-free convenience for the occupants. Even product lines that extend theirs, such as elevator destination dispatch –have comprehensive software interfaces that add a lot of value by making the products “shake hands” with the next one in line.  

dormakaba is developing seamless access solutions and services that make buildings smarter and more secure and manage the entire “opening” in lodging, healthcare, education, financial, transportation, and commercial building applications. “We serve all of these applications by having a wide range of best-in-class entrance systems, electronic access and data solutions, and our ability to comprehensively manage identities through mobile credentials,” says Alex. “When it comes to facilities of a very specialized nature, we have leading solutions in lodging and multi-housing applications, and a very compelling offering for financial services, banking, and high-value retail, in our Safe Lock product line, where we’ve just introduced the LA GARD 700 Series platform.” Overall, dormakaba can ensure that an entire facility, whether it’s used for healthcare, a commercial office, or financial purpose, is the most connected and data-rich environment it can be using dormakaba solutions.  

Customer First

According to Alex considering the present nature of time, along with the need to be responsive to customers, dormakaba is encouraging its innovation team to spend time with customers and installers outside of their normal work areas. “By becoming familiar with their new realities, we’re able to offer solutions that enable partners, integrators, installers, dealers and locksmiths to be more effective in deploying our solutions,” he says. “It’s a mindset to be outwardly focused and to be very observant, aware and curious in a very unprecedented time.” Meanwhile, dormakaba continues to look for ways on the inside to develop their platforms. More of their products and solutions connect and therefore offer an element of data collection, analysis, and anticipation of behaviors like never before. “We have an elaborate digital services platform that’s been deployed for on-premise and off-premise solutions. This development is important, because it allows us to create something that’s used over and over again – that way we can focus on new applications instead of re-inventing the basis of the project,” adds Alex. “This empowers our team members to be more innovative with their time.”

The best attribute of dormakaba is that they are a values-driven organization. No matter what they face, in terms of market conditions or challenges, like the pandemic, they approach the future with a commitment to their values.

“Our first value is “Customer First.” We make decisions by asking, “what serves our customers best?” The next value is “Curiosity,” because we believe being curious is the key to understanding our customers’ need, and the key to imagining future innovations,” explains Alex. “Of course, we know we have to “Perform,” which is our third value. Our solutions must be on time, within the budget, and effective for its entire life. The next value is “Courage” because we know it takes a lot of courage to reach your full protentional.” That means having the courage to make a commitment and do things properly. It means pursuing the best solutions to move the fastest and enabling their channel partners to offer the first solution in an emerging environment like the touch-free environment one sees today. “If we can do all of these things properly, we know we’ll be able to build “Trust,” our final value and ultimate goal. We want to be the most-trusted partner for access solutions globally,” he adds.

Leader in the Market

dormakaba owes its success to their brilliant team of talented individuals. “When our team members are given clarity and empowerment to pursue business using those values – we’re unbeatable. We may not be the biggest, but we’re committed to being the best and most trusted partner,” elucidates Alex.   

dormakaba’s commitment to growing in the Americas market resulted in several significant organizational milestones since 2015 when Dorma and Kaba came together. They have a leadership position in each of their eight product lines and can offer channel partners, customers, and end-users a comprehensive lineup for their access solutions needs. Each one can stand on its own as a competitive, viable, and leading solution while also working together, which allows the company to provide truly comprehensive solutions to their vertical target markets.

The major milestones for dormakaba include acquisitions of BEST, Mesker Openings Group, and Alvarado Manufacturing – those are just three examples of situations where they acquired a best-in-industry player. Add that to the foundational, high-performing Dorma and Kaba businesses and truly have a one-stop-shop with the best values and the best talent in the industry. 

“One of the reasons we find it to be a worthy mission to have a comprehensive access solutions portfolio is so we can take the technology and strengths of one product line and make them compliment another,” says Alex. “One good example is the recently released BEST SwitchTM Tech, which addresses the problem in the electronic access control market place, that adding controlled access points to a traditional electronic access control system is costly, and many facilities have mechanical locks and key systems today that could really better serve the facility on an electronic access control system.” The BEST SwitchTM Tech Product is a small-form, interchangeable, core-compatible product that enables a traditional, mechanical key door to be converted to a secured, electronic access point. This can be done within a few minutes at a very affordable cost for both existing and future installations.

“We’re not just doing this for our own solutions – we partner with the leading electronic access control software companies in the marketplace to ensure our solution is compatible, because we believe we offer more customer value together with BEST, MESKER Openings Group, and Alvarado Manufacturing, it’s a win-win,” he adds.

Towards the Future

dormakaba equips its customers with solutions for their end-users. For them, that’s revolved around digital identity management and their ability to deploy mobile credentials securely, whether it’s for their access control solutions, access control solutions for partners in the industry, and specific vertical-based access controls mobile credential solutions, like in hospitality.

Another example is dormakaba’s touch-free solutions. They have the industry’s first touch-free, outdoor, weather-proof solution for actuating swing operators and automatic sliding doors. This enables touch-free entrances to be deployed in environments that weren’t possible before. This technology originated in their electronic access and data product group, and it’s now been re-deployed to the entrance solutions product division.

Sharing an instance, Alex says a large office park in the south-central United States facing a very common challenge in the marketplace—how to bring employees back to the office with their safety and health in mind. By partnering together, dormakaba lodging, entrance systems, electronic access and data, and door hardware business all found product offerings to extend the healthy hardware safe buildings initiative. Whether it’s passing through an automated entrance at the front door, or touch-free access through an optical turnstile, or a mobile credential working at an office store, combined with an anti-microbial surface, dormakaba has a complete product offering from end-to-end that allowed this property owner to restore confidence in the tenants, maintain property values, and resume important activities on site. These products will also all be touched by dormakaba service while deploying the solution.

dormakaba has new access control solutions launching regularly, and Crane’s motion is one such with an assist revolving door armed with a continuous motion. This product makes it obvious for pedestrians that it’s an automated door. It solves one of the most pressing issues in the automatic revolving door business, which is to break the temptation to push on an automatic door and actuate the safety cutoff and make passage frustrating. Crane motion assist uses a very high-efficiently motor and mechanization system to safely move the door at a low speed, in energy preservation mode. Once the doorway detects a pedestrian in the path, it resumes at a full operational speed, allowing that guest safe and efficient passage into the building. “I’m proud because this product is an industry first. It’s based on the best motor control and drive engineering innovation that’s taken place in our market, and it’s another product that “makes a dormakaba Crane an industry standard,” as we like to say,” says Alex.