FireKing is a US-based manufacturer that is in the business of protecting what is important for companies, schools and consumers. To be able to do that, it has to meet demanding quality control procedures. OPI’s Heike Dieckmann talks to President Gary Weisman about what it takes to stay at the top of your game and how the company is venturing down new, previously unexplored, avenues.
OPI: How would you describe FireKing’s remit – your mission statement, so to speak?
Gary Weisman: Our mission is to protect what’s important, it’s as simple as that. We’ve been doing that in one way or another for over 65 years now with a range of products including water- and fireproof filing cabinets, safes, video surveillance systems, etc.
Every single company has documents that should be protected. In fact, over 65% of businesses that experience a fire and lose their vital records will go out of business within one year – I think that’s an incredible statistic.
OPI: It’s a well-known fact that sales of regular filing cabinets are in decline. Do you see that decline at FireKing too?
GW: It’s true that sales of regular filing cabinets have dropped off in the past few years due to the digitisation of documents. But the need for securing important information has actually grown over the years. FireKing has seen an increase in demand to protect irreplaceable documents and media each year and we expect this trend to continue.
It’s not just documents, of course. It is estimated that 7-12% of school children in the US need daily administered medication. A recent university study revealed that 48.5% of US schools surveyed reported child medication errors. Our Schools Medicine Cabinet which was launched last month reduces the risk of incorrectly dispensing medicine to students, with a full audit trail and interface with a school’s scan-card system. Importantly, it also keeps the medication completely safe and away from children.
Overall, demand for all manner of security products continues to grow and our dealer partners that recognise this continue to experience sales growth with our products.
OPI: What about safes – is that a category in decline as well due to digitisation?
GW: Not for FireKing. The safe category is a rapidly-growing segment of our business. Safes are not only used for document storage, but also for anything else that people want to protect from theft, fire or water damage.
The segment with the highest demand in the safe market are products for the home and we offer a complete line of home safes to meet those customers’ specific needs.
OPI: Broadly speaking, what is your target audience? Has it changed much over the years?
GW: Our end-user audience is very diverse and ranges from governments and the education vertical to large businesses and the SOHO sector.
The fastest growing part of our business is in fact the SOHO sector. It’s not new to us, but the potential in this channel is enormous, as people strive to protect their valuables in all manner of different spaces. We launched a filing cabinet specificlly tailored for this segment called the Turtle file, for instance. It has all the same features as our commercial cabinet, but comes in a compact, 22-inch-deep design.
We try to anticipate and react to customers’ requirements, and over the past 12-15 months specifically we’ve been looking at new applications in order to remain relevant and address opportunities in the market. In partnership with sales and marketing agency Highlands we’ve taken new concepts and ideas to the reseller community and this collaborative effort is really paying off now.
OPI: What about your reseller base – has that changed much?
GW: The internet now accounts for a large percentage of our overall sales. That said, we still go to market with the office products dealers and wholesalers through their catalogues and promotional material.
OPI: So what are FireKing’s core differentiating factors today?
GW: They are numerous. The irony is that businesses used to store everything. Now they don’t because of digitisation, but the physical assets they do keep are much more important. So if they’re important they need to be protected and put into cabinets and safes that can resist fire and water, are impact-resistant and still keep the contents secure inside.
It’s interesting that users tend to believe a regular steel filing cabinet is fire- and waterproof and even resilient to severe drops. That is a huge misconception and not the case at all.
FireKing prides itself on its rigorous quality control – it’s absolutely core to everything we do. We have never had a filing cabinet fail in the history of the company and there’s a lifetime warranty on all our commercial cabinets.
OPI: Can you tell me a bit more about that quality control? What are the specific challenges in your product category and how do you overcome them?
GW: Sure. All our fireproof cabinets are made in the USA and we offer a number of solutions for various risk profiles. Our products must meet very stringent production guidelines and all our commercial files carry the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label for fire and impact.
UL has the right to enter our factory at any time and pull a filing cabinet or safe out of production and put it through its test lab to ensure we are meeting the requirements as outlined in its test. This ensures that end users are getting the protection they are paying for.
In practice, this means, for instance, that cabinets will withstand exterior temperatures of 1,700°F (927°C) while the inside maintains a temperature of a maximum of 350°F. They are also resilient to a 30-ft-drop (10 m) without opening.
From a water-resistance and electronic media perspective, our commercial cabinets are ETL Intertek-certified to protect against sprinkler, fire hose and electronic media damage.
These accreditations are an important differentiator for us that set us apart from the competition.
OPI: Please tell me about your service – as opposed to merely product – proposition.
GW: FireKing offers a number of services to customers. The most important one is delivery and installation.
Dealers today do not have the equipment necessary to move a 800 lb (400 kg) filing cabinet. As such, FireKing offers a variety of delivery options for dealers, ranging from dock-to-dock to complete installation to end users on our dealers’ behalf. We take care of all the logistics for these services.
We also have a nationwide service division that can help if problems arise. Finally, there are FireKing employees in all FireKing trucks, so they are all trained and qualified to handle our products.