A lot has happened at APECS in the past thirty years. Since the company was founded in Russia in 1991, the business has grown to include factories across the Far East and Europe, each with their own speciality when it comes to manufacturing and materials. Now, with almost 90 partners across the globe, a new warehouse and distribution centre – perfectly placed in the West Midlands for UK customers – and a team that has quadrupled in the past few years with members handpicked from the industry due to their experience and expertise, it came as a shock when Clearview met up with Managing Director Nik Goncharov and he commented that the business is “actively growing”. Shouldn’t it have reached its own ‘apex’?
“No we certainly haven’t,” replied Nik. “In fact, we still see plenty of room to grow, especially in the UK, and that’s why in recent years we’ve specifically sought out some of the best people in the industry to add to the team and brought them all together at our new site in the West Midlands (or working remotely as is the case for several at the moment).”
Rewind to Moscow in the early 1990s, and it was Nik’s father who originally started the security products business. Home security posed a huge opportunity for Mr Goncharov and he built his brand steadily up until 1995 when manufacturing for APECS began in the Far East. In 2000 a Research & Development facility was opened in Beijing and in 2004 a lab and factory launched in Shanghai. Add the Ukraine and Slovenia to the roster and by 2020 APECS had footholds all over the world, with each facility housing its own specialist team and skill set covering APECS’s comprehensive catalogue.
This portfolio covered a plethora of options with products sold under the APECS brand or ‘re-badged’ for customers that wanted to sell and supply under their own name. And, because APECS had bases all over the world, each market that it sold into had its own modified idea of what APECS was when it came to the locks it made. While the ‘shopping basket’ contents might appear different on foreign shores however, the name meant the same wherever you went: a strong team (small at first), that really knew their stuff when it came to locks, and this shone through in the way they chose not only the products to add to the line but where these would be manufactured to ensure the best quality at the best price.
With this in mind, who or what is APECS in the UK?
“In the UK, we are without a doubt known for the AP Cylinder,” explains Nik. “The market over here is extremely keen on a 3-star cylinder lock. It’s such a popular product. So, over the years while we have designed and developed everything from basic and 1* cylinder locks to deadlocks and mortice locks, hardware such as handles and hinges, bike locks and padlocks; in the UK industry the 3-star cylinder lock is always a top seller.
“However, the fact that this product is so popular in the UK means that there are many others on the market, and this means we have to be at the very top of our game with AP Cylinder. For this reason we focus all our efforts on making sure we have the perfect product for not only fitters but also fabricators. Whether the lock is being fitted by a locksmith or straight into a door by a manufacturer, whether it is ordered as a single unit or in bulk; the lock – and the service that comes with it – is the same, and it is always the pinnacle of quality.”
The service Nik mentions indeed seems to distend far beyond the point of sale. Producing a good quality lock at a decent price is of course a great starting point, but the after sale service needs to be on-point for a business to become a well-known brand. This is where the technical team – namely Neil Macleod – Technical Manager, Lucas Zhao – Technical Assistant come in. Knowing that someone is on the other end of the telephone when an installer or door maker needs assistance can often set apart one hardware company from another, learning that both of these have years of experience in the sector and have been specially selected for their positions is the cherry on top.
Nik added: “Locksmiths and installers cotton on very quickly if the person they are on the phone to for help – or is trying to sell them a lock – knows nothing about what they are talking about. It is very important to us that our team are the very best in the business. And, as there has been little opportunity for face-to-face expos or events in the last 18 months, it has never been more crucial that customers know they can call on us whenever they need to and get the advice they need. Part of the new West Mids site even includes a keying and troubleshooting department so we can offer an even better service to our customers when it comes to the practicalities of everyday security. We hope that this will continue to keep APECS in the front of the minds of everyone in the security sector, as it has been for the past three decades. At our core, we are still very much a family business though and whether that was my father starting out in the early 90s or the much bigger family we’ve grown into now to include everyday installers, locksmiths, door designers, even specifiers, the ethos hasn’t changed.”
Natasha Pugh, Sales Director reiterates: “With installers, it’s all about word-of-mouth and in recent years this is in the form of social media. Locksmiths love their forums and I know from feedback – obviously I’m not in the forums myself – that the opinion of APECS products; particularly the AP Cylinder is incredibly positive.
“From my own point of view, as someone who has been in the security industry for a while and worked for several major manufacturers and distributors, I genuinely believe that the AP Cylinder is the best in the market, and locksmiths love our products. This makes my job as Sales Director a lot easier! To have faith in the product we are selling comes across to the locksmiths; as does building strong relationships with our customers. I keep in constant touch with our customers, and value their experience and expertise.
“When it comes to social media, I’ve used Linkedin professionally for many years, and at the end of 2020, I started APECS accounts on Instagram and Twitter for myself. Becoming a part of the online community – especially during the pandemic – was a great substitute for meeting people face-to-face or at events or expos. Additionally, social media offers a very visual method of demonstrating the specification and application of our products. And, for new viewers, they can look back at older posts and get up-to-date on everything that’s happened.
“I’ve always valued customer feedback in my role and social media offers instant results. This interaction all goes into making customer relationships stronger, reaction times faster and the overall buying experience better. Without a doubt, this approach has helped the team get APECS to where it is today.”
APECS AP Cylinder – Key Points:
The KM 3*, Sold Secure Diamond Grade Cylinder also features APECS’s patented anti-snap protection system which ensures that the lock is still operable from the inside if it is snapped externally.
Security features include:
- Anti-pick: 4 pins on each side
- Anti-bump: double locking mechanism with track rail pins in combination with a unique shallow chamber
- Anti-drill: 2 pins on each side of the cylinder shell + 5 on each side in the cylinder core
- 1 steel driver pin on each side
- Snap-secure sacrificial point
- 10-year guarantee
- 5-year snap-secure guarantee
- BSI 3 Star Kitemark – KM621947
- Sold Secure Diamond Standard – CLME08161454
- Tested to TS007:2014 A1:2015
- Tested to EN1303:2015 — 160B0C6D
It also makes use the APECS Key Secure system which adds an extra layer of security for homeowners by giving them the option to link their unique key code to a password, meaning that copies of their keys cannot be made without the password being provided.