Swiss company settles in after blockbuster acquisition of Best Access

Stanley Black & Decker's signs finally are coming down at the Best Access Solutions building at 75th Street and Binford Boulevard after a blockbuster acquisition in February by Swiss lock and security company Dormakaba Group.

Dormakaba purchased Best from Stanley Black & Decker as part of a $725 million deal for much of its mechanical security business of commercial door locks and door hardware. It's now looking to make its name known in the Indianapolis area.

For example, Mayor Joe Hogsett is set to formally welcome Dormakaba leadership Thursday during an event at the Best Access Solutions Indianapolis facility. Dormakaba Access Solutions Americas COO Michael Kincaid will help unveil new Dormakaba signage on the building and lead Best’s 700 employees in planting perennials outside the area in an event Kincaid described as Best’s rechristening.

“It’s symbolic, but I think it’s very important to the employees that they see the association graphically and in terms of branding with the umbrella brand of the corporation which is Dormakaba,” Kincaid said in an interview with IBJ. “The bottom line is we want to make Indianapolis stronger.”

New signage on the building will refer to Dormakaba, but the facility will be considered the corporate headquarters of Best Access Solutions. Its products will retain the Best branding.

Best Access Solutions has been locally headquartered for more than 75 years and is known for its locking devices, including padlocks, cores and keys.

Stanley Black & Decker purchased Best in 2002 in a $310 million deal, combining Best’s lock services with Stanley’s automatic door and commercial hardware businesses.

In February's $725 million deal, Dormakaba purchased Stanley brands Best, phi Precision and GMT.

Dormakaba will continue Indianapolis-based production of Best locks and Precision-branded exit devices, Kincaid said, while GMT is a Chinese-based brand and will retain its operations in the Asia-Pacific market.

The 330,000-square-foot Indianapolis Best facility houses manufacturing and engineering operations, producing locks, exit devices and door closers. Kincaid said administration, accounting, sales and marketing teams also work in the building. Best employs 700 people at the facility and 850 companywide.

He said Best’s Indianapolis operations so far have seen no major changes with Dormakaba’s acquisition, but some regional responsibilities may be transferred to the Indianapolis location based on Best’s strengths in specification writing.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re moving people into the building, but giving leadership in the building responsibility of things that would have previously lay with the Dormakaba side,” Kincaid said.

Kincaid added that he sees a future in building new products in the Indianapolis Best location to contribute to Dormakaba’s overall growth in the access and security market.

“It’s not that we’re going to change our manufacturing footprint in America, but we will certainly change or increase the investments in product developments in the building,” Kincaid said. “We have to have a sustainable pipeline of new products.”

Prior to its acquisition of Best, Dormakaba was better known for its niche operations in producing electronic hotel and safe locks, among other products, Kincaid said.

“When it came to the bread-and-butter door hardware that the mechanical locks and key systems that go into a hospital or a K-12 establishment or university, we didn’t have a large offering and we were not on the radar as a strong player,” Kincaid said.

He said Dormakaba was looking to become a strong player in the commercial door hardware business where Best had shown previous success.

Paired with Dormakaba’s $142.5 million purchase of Hunstville, Alabama-based Mesker Openings Group in December, the Best acquisition has allowed Dormakaba to expand its product base to include doors, door frames, exit devices, locks and hinges, Kincaid said.

Dormakaba now has more than 20 factories in its Americas division, including hotel lock manufacturing operations based in Detroit and high security safe lock manufacturing in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dormakaba’s acquisition of Best, Precision and GMT makes the global company the third-largest security access solution provider in the world, according to a Dormakaba press release.

“Now we’ve arrived in the door hardware business,” Kincaid said. “We have a complete product portfolio that lets us compete on the same level with anybody else who has a dominant share in our industry.”

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