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30 Years of innovation

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Group Chairman of Paxton, Tony Ratcliffe shares his thoughts on how the company has developed as Paxton celebrate 30 Years of innovation at IFSEC International

This year, Paxton, market leader of electronic IP access control and door entry equipment, is celebrating 30 years of innovation with special birthday activities at this year’s IFSEC International.

Back in the 1980s, the company was founded by Tony Ratcliffe, now Group Chairman of Paxton Access, following an incident in which he had his credit cards stolen. The story goes that one hot summer’s day Tony decided to mow the lawn in his swimming trunks. As was the style at the time the trunks were rather small and didn’t leave much room for the storage of a key! Tony left the back door to his house open and proceeded to mow the lawn with a very noisy machine. An opportunistic thief took advantage of this momentary lapse in security and went in through the open door and swiped all of Tony’s credit cards.

This unhappy event led to the formation of Paxton.

Tony Ratcliffe says: “I was furious. It’s the only time I have been burgled and it had a huge effect on me. I felt an electronic keypad/lock combination was the ideal solution as the means of access would be in your head. This was a gap in the security market, and I sensed an opportunity for a solution I could make and sell.”

Paxton has continuously developed and improved its offering over the past 30 years in an effort to listen to and exceed the expectations of its customer base. Some key products over the company’s lifetime have included TOUCHLOCK, CARDLOCK, Net2 Entry and Net2 PaxLock.

Paxton Automation, later Paxton Access, entered the security market in 1985. At first it was just Tony operating from a premises in Lewes and shipping products from the local post office.

The company’s first offering wasTOUCHLOCK, a complete keyless locking system designed for use in homes and offices; it employed the latest electronic and metals technology to unlock doors using a four-digit code. TOUCHLOCK provided increased security and ease of movement for authorised personnel, plus added peace of mind without the burden of a conventional key and the concern of it being lost or stolen. For a first venture into the security industry the product proved a success, but it had also highlighted further possibilities for development within the market.

To begin with there were unexpected challenges such as the number of processes that went into producing the system, which were time consuming and didn’t always go to plan. The metal casing for the control unit threw up some teething issues when it was returned from the manufacturer with bubbles in the metal, but after much back and forth this was resolved. From the offset Paxton has paid exceptional attention to the development of high quality products, and these issues helped the company establish its ethos of getting things right.

CARDLOCK compact launched in 1992, a versatile card access control system for indoor and outdoor use and the ability to manage up to 4,000 users. CARDLOCK offered convenient control over access permissions and was easy to manage and completely self-contained, meaning no complicated setup. It also connected to keypads giving the option of code or card entry.

Then, in 1999, Paxton experienced its most successful product debut with the release of Net2. A networked access control system with a host of features, such as intuitive software, auto detection and distributed intelligence meant the product was quick and easy to learn, install, commission and set up. Net2 gave huge operational benefits to the installer and the end user. Designed for sites to grow from a single door to hundreds of doors across multiple buildings and always utilising the latest technology, Net2 was truly future proof. It’s a testament to the system that Net2 is still number one on the UK access control market today.

Unfortunately, late 2000 brought torrential rain to South East England and this led to severe flooding at the Paxton factory in Lewes. Paxton’s main premises were submerged in water up to a meter deep destroying all electrical equipment. The damage to the building was restorable, but the incident had highlighted the need to find new premises at a new location.

In 2004, Paxton made the move from its small industrial unit in Lewes to the offices on Home Farm Road in Brighton. The relocation was a major step in Paxton’s expansion plans and in fact the company is still based there today with 250+ team members active in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Benelux, France, US, South America, UAE and South Africa and distribution to 50 countries worldwide.

Paxton has been extremely successful establishing business overseas, particularly in the US where with its current rate of growth the market has the potential to be even bigger than the UK. This success is due to the commitment and enthusiasm of local support teams, partners and distributors in working hard to ensure the company’s values of providing high quality products, education, customer care and support are consistent.

Talking about the growth of the company, Tony Ratcliffe says: “International expansion was only possible when we had a product and a company that was scalable.  After 30 years, we have never been stronger, this means we have hit upon the formula for success. We have to change as we grow and constantly reinvent ourselves - it’s about scaling up the principles of your company as it increases in size.”

Back in 2012, Paxton kicked off the year with the introduction of Net2 PaxLock. The most significant addition to Net2 in over a decade, Net2 PaxLock offered installers complete networked access control in a wireless, battery powered door handle. A solution that was fast to fit, simple to set up and versatile for a range of sites, it utilised Paxton’s own reliable wireless protocol with the trusted technology of Net2. PaxLock proved a popular choice for sites where cabling was tricky and is still a popular product on the market today.

Net2 Entry, Paxton’s smart, simple door entry system marked a dynamic, fresh direction for Paxton when it showcased at IFSEC 2012.It comprised of just three simple components for easy installation, the touchscreen monitor, robust exterior panel and door control were able to unit auto detect on setup, making it a truly scalable, plug and play solution.

Since launch, significant upgrades to the system have comprised of enhanced capabilities with many new high security features enabling installers to offer customers a complete door entry solution for extra reassurance. Developments have included the introduction of Net2 vandal resistant panels, SIP compatibility, secondary camera integration, intruder alarm integration and video voicemail.

Net2 Entry has gone on to be nominated for many industry awards and has won three.

Paxton prides itself on its industry-leading customer care and support but it is only able to provide this because of the ambitious and dedicated team working behind the scenes. Two characters that have positively impacted on the company are Drew Hoggatt, who in the position of Managing Director grew the company from 20 to 100 people, and Adam Stroud who started his career at the company in the factory and is now CEO of the Paxton Group.

Talking about the team at Paxton, Tony Ratcliffe says: “It is a real pleasure to see hidden talents emerging in a high growth company like Paxton.  We promote where we can and I find it extraordinary how much latent talent there is in our offices. I think Paxton people are quite rare, about 1/50! They are people who enjoy a challenge and love progress.”

In June visitors to IFSEC International can learn more about Paxton’s journey with a visual timeline located on the Paxton stand (G1500). 

Demonstration points will provide an insight into systems and the features on offer, including Paxton’s exciting introduction to building intelligence, net10, as well as innovative new door entry solutions.

Paxton’s international team of industry experts will be on hand to offer advice and information about products and training. The company offer hands-on training for its complete range of standalone and networked products. Sessions are designed to provide the essential knowledge and confidence needed to specify, install and maintain all Paxton products. 100% of installers trained would recommend it to a colleague.

Continuing the theme of innovation, Adam Stroud, CEO of the Paxton Group, will discuss changes to the technology landscape during a talk in the Security Solutions Theatre on Wednesday 17th June, from 12:00pm – 12:30pm. He will present a view of the future for the security industry, exploring the widespread use of smart mobile devices and rise of the Internet of Things.