Integrating Card Technology And Security
With the rise in demand for security in markets such as
education, Idesco Corp.has become more than just a
card manufacturer. The multi-million company is now
one of the largest security systems integrators in the New York
Business Solutions, March 2001 by Dan
In 1943, Andrew Schonzeit wasn't even born. However, the company he is
president/CEO of, Idesco Corp. (New York City), was just getting
year - by Schonzeit's grandfather. "The ID card business has been in my
for three generations," Schonzeit said. "In the 1940s, my grandfather
ID cards for the War Department via a cut and paste system." Commonly
the composite or film-based method, this system involved taking a
photo, cutting it out, and laminating it to a card-sized piece of
paper contained the person's name, ID number, and any other personal
information. This method of ID card manufacturing actually lasted as
standard in the industry until the early 1980s. It was at that time
first card printers and digital ID systems were introduced. One of the
distributors of this new technology was Idesco.
Today, Idesco employs 40 people (e.g. sales, service technicians,
support, marketing). The company is now recognized as more of a safety
security systems integrator rather than just an ID card manufacturer.
control equipment, closed-circuit TV cameras, laminating equipment, and
equipment (e.g. signs, tags, and locks) are all part of Idesco's
"Although security comprises more than 70% of our business, card
usually part of those solutions," Schonzeit explained. "Card printer
account for almost 40% of our revenue."
Making The Grade In School Security
It should be no surprise
anyone why the security market has gone through the roof in recent
publicized stories of shootings in schools, restaurants, and offices
created a culture obsessed with security and safety. Consequently, as
ID card printer suppliers, Idesco has experienced significant growth
trend. "In the past decade, the demand for increased security really
company in a new direction," Schonzeit said. "For instance, we now
services like on-site badging, card design, and database programming. In
particular, the education market offered us the largest opportunities."
Ten years ago, colleges and universities were almost the only
facilities that used ID cards. Today, high schools, elementary schools,
some daycare centers use ID cards both for children and staff. Moreover,
cards are being used for more than just identification. Some common
for ID cards in education include:
Business From More Than Just Word Of Mouth
- Student, staff, and visitor photo ID badges
- Controlled entry to an entire campus
- Registration processes/record keeping
- Meal programs
- Library/bookstore checkout
- Equipment (e.g. sports, audio visual)
- Activity passes (e.g. plays, dances, sporting events)
- Fundraising activities (e.g. coupons for use at area merchants)
- Vending machine purchases
- ATM cards
- Time and attendance
if a company is looking for an ID card printer in the New York area,
name will almost always be mentioned. Indeed, with 58 years of
company receives the majority of its business through word of mouth.
important, though, is getting customers to visit our huge showroom," he
"Once there, they can try the equipment firsthand. That makes a big
their decision making process."
Idesco also gets leads from its vendors and from Pro-ID, a
organization of card printer companies. In addition, the company
10% of its leads from relationships with electricians, general
engineers, security companies, and alarm companies. "These kinds of
usually involved with new construction or renovations," he explained.
"Residential security, which includes card access to buildings and
garages, is big business. That's why we even go to some real estate
shows." For any of these projects, Schonzeit said it is important to
the number of personnel using the cards and the size of the building(s).
addition, the type and location of the equipment and the level of
required should be determined. Since security is an intangible concept,
integrators need to translate it into financial savings when discussing a
client's return on investment.
Beating The Competition By Selling More Than Price
grandfather was making ID cards (and up until the 1980s), the initial
for a film-based system was relatively low. Unfortunately, the time,
individual cost per card was high with this method. Plus, these cards
easily counterfeited. Digital printing changed all of that. However, now
Schonzeit fears that card printers are becoming so affordable (e.g.
some vendors may soon choose to sell direct through retail stores. This
especially disconcerting to him since Idesco acts as a distributor for
integrators nationwide. "We typically sell one or two printers to a
corporate business or another integrator," he explained. As examples, he
the United Nations, the New York Yankees and Mets, the U.S. Open, and
hospitals in the New York area.
Many of Idesco's competitors offer low priced products direct
via Web sites.
In 2000, Schonzeit decided to redesign his company's Web site (it
hits per month). Through a partnership with Thomas Register (New York),
now has e-commerce capabilities. Nevertheless, Schonzeit doesn't expect
to account for more than 5% of sales. "The biggest mistake our
is assuming that a low markup is the way to go for easy sales. They're
selling the service, which is really what creates a long-lasting
Schonzeit is a savvy businessman. He realizes that despite his
reputation, change is inherent for continued success. Technology
like the current focus on security in education come and go. "This is a
business," he said. "But I can tell you from personal experience, it is
recession-proof. You've got to develop, and more importantly, maintain
relationships. If that's the key to good business, then we must be doing