In 1972, there were only a few sources for security equipment. One national supplier had their main offices on the East Coast and warehouses in Chicago and Los Angeles. Most other manufacturers sold their products direct to the relatively small number of independent dealers. The problem for the independent dealer was that there was no one-stop place to buy the control and all of the other parts needed to complete a system. Ray Meyer had discovered this several years earlier when he tried to set up dealers for a small control panel manufacturing operation he had started in Princeton, Minnesota.
His idea was to source the different parts and stock them at one location. He also chose the Minneapolis location as centrally situated for the local dealers. Alarm Products’ current location was chosen for the same reason.
Some of the early suppliers were Alarm Products International, Design Control, Napco (alarm panels and tape dialers), Damon Alarm (window foil, foil blocks, foiling supplies and hold-up switches), United Security (magnetic contacts), Christy Industries (tape dialers), Union Carbide (No. 6-dry cell batteries) and Franklin Signal (digital dialers and controls). Tape dialers made up the majority of the communications sales. Alarm Products even recorded tapes for the dealers. Digital dialers were just being introduced to the market. An interesting note is there were three manufacturers of digital dialers right here in the Twin Cities, Lincoln Security,Lectro Systems and Silent Knight.
Alarm Products later opened a branch office in St. Louis. Ray would drive the 600 miles every other week to check on the branch, but it proved to be tricky to try and maintain two offices in the days before computers were available to watch the inventory and general ledger. Ray later closed the St. Louis office and installed WATS lines in Minneapolis, one of the first distributors to do so. Dealers could now call toll-free from 11 states in the upper Midwest to place their orders to be picked up or shipped.
Shipping equipment into the sales territory was also quite different than it is today. UPS did not deliver to many areas of the Midwest at this time. REA (Railway Express Agency) was still in operation and, along with truck shipments and parcel post, made up the various ways of getting product out to customers
Clint Dobratz purchased the operation in 1986. In 1990, Alarm Products moved to its current location, still centrally located in the Twin Cities. Since opening here in the Midway District, we have had three building expansions, adding much needed warehouse and office space as well as an expanded training room to facilitate customer training. Alarm Products currently has an eight-person sales staff and a warehouse and shipping support staff.
Today,the times and products have changed. Alarm Products has changed too, in order to continue to meet the needs of our customers, both now and in the future. But in other ways, Alarm Products has not changed. We still maintain a knowledgeable and friendly staff of professionals who believe that customer service is still the most important item that we offer.
Alarm Products Distributors, Inc. — Where Service Matters!
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