Q&A with Carol-Anne Lovell, ASSA ABLOY Canada
Carol-Anne Lovell spent almost 20 years, with breaks to raise her children, at Security Locksmith and Design (SLD), a family-owned Toronto locksmith business, before taking a position several months ago with ASSA ABLOY as an end-user specialist for the company’s door security solutions division. We spoke to Lovell recently about making the change.
Canadian Security: What was the transition like from working for a locksmithing family business to a giant company like ASSA ABLOY?
Carol-Anne Lovell: The transition was not as hard as I had anticipated. At SLD, ASSA ABLOY was always there for support. Being a service centre for ASSA ABLOY products — if there was ever an issue, they were only a phone call away. I feel that I’ve just crossed the street, if you will. Everyone I currently work with I already knew, so it wasn’t like the first day of school at a new school. I knew who all the players were; I had that rapport with them. Everyone was very welcoming. Leaving your comfort zone, no matter where you are, is a little bit unnerving at times. But the time I spent at SLD, I wouldn’t do it any other way.
CS: Can you describe your new role with ASSA ABLOY?
CL: As an end-user specialist, that consists of working directly with the end user, showing them new and innovative products — something that maybe they are not aware of, or identifying applications where the product would be a good fit. Also assisting them with any projects, whether it be redevelopment or new construction. We have a spec writing team, so any approved or chosen products, we can have that spec’d, so the client then has a binder of approved product specifications.
CS: Are you targeting any particular vertical?
CL: My vertical as an end-user specialist is health care. There are two other end-user specialists: one is JK–12, and the other is college and universities. But I’ve also been going out and addressing any potential clients as I see fit. I fill in my time with other clients, whether they be retail, property management, financial. There are a lot of openings out there that need to be addressed.
CS: Are there more market opportunities in any particular vertical?
CL: In the Greater Toronto Area, we’re seeing a lot of health care. We’re working with the Sick Kids Hospital right now. There’s also a project at St. Mike’s Hospital. There’s a number of hospitals that are either expanding wings or have new ones going up.
CS: Do you act as a conduit from the end user to the integrator?
CL: Most times, especially with health care, they’ve already got their integrator.
CS: Do you work with a preferred list of integrators?
CL: Not to the best of my knowledge. In health care, there are a few big players. When it comes to corporate, or financial, each end user has their own preference. It’s hard to narrow it down to one or two integrators.
CS: So you’re there more on a consultative basis?
CL: More or less. If they are an existing client and they have issues with a product — is it installed correctly? Is it a manufacturer’s default? Or anything like that. It’s manufacturer’s representation. It’s building relationships.
CS: Have you learned anything you didn’t expect to learn?
CL: ASSA ABLOY has a lot of products. Through the in-house training that I’ve received, I have not seen an application that ASSA ABLOY would not be able to provide a solution for.
CS: Do you cover all their brands and companies?
CL: Everything under the DSS division — door security solutions. That includes Sargent, Corbin Russwin, Yale, Hes, ASSA, Baron, Markar, Adams Rite, Rockwood, Rixson, Norton and Folger Adam. Working at SLD for a number of years, I was exposed to a lot of these and had first-hand experience. You spend years educating yourself and going through the industry, going to training seminars, etc. To throw it all away . . . what did you work that hard for? I’m doing something I enjoy. It’s my passion.
CS: Do end users have any common questions or concerns?
CL: Not everyone is truly aware of what ASSA ABLOY is; that we have an umbrella of companies; and that we are a manufacturer — we don’t offer a service centre or installations. We do have training that we provide for product knowledge. Your product is only as good as the installation, as well.
CS: You’re also the chair of the Toronto chapter of ASIS International. What’s it like trying to do this job and juggle that responsibility?
CL: Actually it’s not bad at all. My day is filled with meetings and chatting with people, which is a passion of mine. There’s always time to chat with someone — a fellow colleague or a potential customer. You find the time. ASIS International is the largest Security organization in the world, and ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in door openings. I’m very proud to be a part of them. I am also proud to say I am now a member of Key Women in Security — an organization for women to network, mentor and further their careers with education courses available within the security and architectural industries.