Jay Hunt of Safe & Vault Store shares with us about what riding the wave of alarm-comm tech was like in the early 00s!

How did you get started in the locksmith trade?

This is a 3rd generation owned business going back to the 1930s, we used to be called Spokane Safe and Lock. My grandfather had purchased an existing lock shop and in the 1960s we incorporated as Allied Safe and Vault and evolved from there, eventually began manufacturing our own safes that we called Allied-Gary and they were renown through the US – primarily banking equipment and commercial security. That was back in the 80’s when I joined and got to travel around and call on customers.

What is unique about the needs of your customers?

They’re people with something of substance to protect – not everyone is a gun owner – so they might be protecting jewelry, family heirlooms, art, collectibles, paperwork and important documents. And that’s the older generation.

We have a lot of people that want to come into our store and want to touch and feel.

Today we’re seeing more younger couples with more discretionary income and they want to protect that.

What has made your business successful over the years?

Our business further evolved, and we got into electronic security – alarm systems, video systems, access controls – that kind of thing. I eventually became president and over about the next 10 years the alarm-comm industry dramatically changed. It was like riding a bucking bronco!

The Amazons, Apples, Google’s, Rings and Comcasts of the world were taking over the vast majority of market share and…I was worried I wouldn’t be able to compete…So in 2018 I sold the electronic side of the business and the buyers did not want e-commerce as a part of the sale. I had got the e-commerce side of the business up and running back in 2007 and was doing quite well so I was very pleased to know the buyer would carve that out. We moved into a new location in March 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting. Fortunately, being an online business allowed us to work from home and we not only survived but thrived as people became increasingly concerned about security and safety.

Jay doesn’t come right out and say it, so I’ll do it for him –he’s an innovator and trendsetter. So modest, Jay. 

We have also invested in people – that’s a big market differentiator – they understand security and understand safes.

What challenges has the industry faced over the last 5 years and what adjustments did you make to your business strategy to overcome those challenges?

COVID has changed our business for sure – people are a little wary of going into places, so the majority of our sales have shifted online.

What industry desperately needs security and what market would like to break into next?

Cannabis retail. We’ve been to a few conferences, and are learning more about the audience there. There are a lot of points of vulnerability in that kind of business, and many times we’ve seen cannabis retailers make an [uninformed] decision about the level of protection they need because they’re being forced to by local regulations. They’ll often times buy a low-end gun safe when what they really need is a TL- safe.

What are common misconceptions people have about the type of safe they need and how do you provide them the education to make the right choice?

Even with the internet and all the information out there people still make [uninformed] decisions. They think “how hard could it be to buy a safe, right? It’s a metal box.” And they’ll call us up and start immediately asking us about dimensions and pricing. And they’re really missing the point. And we try not to overwhelm them with information – because it’s a lot! So what seems like an easy decision is really a complex one.

And that’s another differentiator for us. We’re not just a bunch of guys working out of a garage, who don’t really understand safes, but we’re going to pretend like we do. We actually spend a lot of time getting to know our customers and internalizing their needs and challenges so we can help them buy the safe that’s right for them.

What is it about AMSEC that compels you to do business with them?

Well, it’s a great name! And we’ve been a dealer of American Security safes since the 1960s. American Security has grown in over the years like we have and established a name for themselves among people who know quality safes. American Security provides a wide variety of safe solutions to fit just about any need.

We get a lot of requests for custom safes and American Security is so responsive! Your engineering team send us over drawings when we need them. There are several companies who manufacture custom safes but American Security has been doing it longer and doing it better. And your pricing is competitive.

Thank you, Jay!

To inquire about the kind of safe right for your needs in the Spokane Valley, WA area, call on Safe & Vault Store.