Interview: Ghislain Kwasny FD Johnson Security

Mr. Kwasny, thank you for joining us today. Could you please give us an overview of your professional background and role at your company?

I’m part of Johnson Security since July 2015 as Business Development and Sales Director for Europe and Francophone Africa. My role is to develop the sales and strategic partnerships across Europe and part of Africa; and for that I work in team with my colleagues; Steve Reeves (VP sales), Valérie Beresford (Marketing and Communication Manager) and Frank Bednarz (Sales manager for central and eastern Europe). I’ve been working in the security industry since 2010 and most specifically in the armoured vehicles business where I specialized in the cash in transit sector, developing solutions for the end users. My main business area remains the cash in transit, where I work on solutions for our customers to protect their people and goods. Johnson Security is the oldest and most important cash in transit products builder in Europe, they started in the 1950’s, and I’m proud of being part of this team; I have been able to bring in my knowledge of the market and I’m glad to be able to learn every day from my colleagues. As you know the security market, and most especially the cash in transit sector, is going through a recession period, due to the economic crisis and the emergence of the new technologies and payment methods. It makes things more challenging, but we have the benefit of a well experienced team to help develop new solutions for our customer to adapt their business to the circumstances.

In 1996, Four Dimensions Johnson Security has twenty years of experience in security industry. Tell us more about your company, what were the most important milestones, when did Johnson become a part of Four Dimensions and what benefit did you gain from that, how do you see your company’s position at the moment?

FDJI founders in China were already involved in the automotive industry in China before starting the Joint Venture with Johnson Security. FD were looking for new solutions to offer to the security companies and investment and saw the security industry as a great opportunity to raise to new challenges. However, FD identified the needs for investing in new technology and getting production experience; that is why they decided to associate with a well renowned and experienced foreign company to create a Joint Venture. In return FD could offer an open door to the Chineses market.

In 2004, FD became the majoriy shareholder of Johnson Security and in 2007 FD became the sole owner of Johnson.

FDJI has developed its opportunity and sales throughout the world with the main players and we are pursuing our growth by offering security vehicles and building products that evolve with our clients and the markets.

A part of your group is also the company KFB-Extramobile, a German manufacturer of ambulances and first response vehicles, which FDJI acquisited in 2010. Why did your company bought KFB-Extramobile, what was the story behind that, and what important technology did you acquire?

FDJI, well aware of the SARS epidemy and the vehicles that were commissioned by KFB straight from Germany recognised the potential and bought KFB in 2010 to grow opportunities in China.

What are your key technologies? 

Johnso Security is specialized in all CIT conversion types, as you already know. The main technologies developped and used  by Johnson are based on the softwares for all type of application, the biometrics detection systems, the remote controls and tracking, the data log remote control. Talking about vehicles, a part of the classic armouring, Johnson is working with composit materials to allow higher payloads and also allow armouring small vehicles.

Present us FD Johnson Security product portfolio? What varieties of products do you manufacture and what applications do they have?

Building Security Products, Specialised Component Manufacture, Cash Centre Solutions, Fire Trucks & Police Vehicle Conversions, other Special Security Vehicles such as Cash-in-Transit Armoured Vans, Customised Ambulances and Secure Mail Trucks, among others.

What product/solution would you single out as your flagship product and why?

Our cash in transit vehicles consist of a wide range of solutions to fit the vehicles to the markets they are used in. Clients from all over the world come to seek for advices and solutions from Johnson Security. And as Johnson has the expertise to also provide cash centre solution we could say that we offer a very clever turn key solution.

What is your maximum annual production capacity at your 30,000 sq meters production facilities and has it matched sales?

The last years have been lower in terms of production, but I can tell you that we have delivered around 200 vehicles to our customers in 2015; matching partially our targets. Johnson’s good years are around 300 vehicles delivered. We aim to get back to these figures soon.

Do don’t only manufacture, you also offer services to repair armoured vehicles? Has being a member of Vehicle Builders & Repairers Association make it easier for you to offer this kind of services?

The VBRA accrediation demonstrates our level of commitment when dealing with services. We have a team of qualified engineers and the multi lingual support staff that are dedicated to help our clients wherever and whenever they are. It is a whole package that makes it a very attractive offer to our clients.

What are the key benefits consumers can expect from FDJI? Is it European quality matched with Chinese fast production, proprietary technology, experience, prices?

FDJI have a very high qualified team of engineers and quality expert who develop new products and solutions in Europe and a fantastic production line in China which provide our assembly line in Europe to build our unique vehicles. So, yes our aim is to provide quality and quantity to our clients at very competitive prices.

What customers do you target and what vertical markets do you focus on?

We work with the bank and retail and luxury industry as well with the emergency services and military sector.

Financial and other institutions in need of your products demand certain standards and certificates as a proof of quality. What standards have you implemented?

We provide our decades of experience to start with which are combined with the usual certificates links to the level of armour vehicles can have, and we can run tests in house or at specialist centres as per requested by our customers. We take quality very seriously and are certifified ISO 9001:2008.

Present us some of the most important references?

We have worked with all the main global players in the security industry from Brinks to Loomis, G4S, and Prosegur.

How do you see security market today, how will security market look like in the following years? What will be major trends?

The security market has massively changed since Johnson Security delivered their first cash in transit vehicles. There is a general trend in the Scandinavian countries that is also spreading through other countries to, “cashless society”. So that is one dilemma for our company which has triggered our efforts to also widen our horizons to other market than just the security market.

Nevertheless turnkey solutions as the one we offer remain a very interesting opportunity for our customers who all need more than ever to save on costs.

What can we expect from Johnson Security in the upcoming years?

Johnson Security is always working on new solutions in collaboration with the end users. We have developed during the last years some new technologies based on our experience in the UK. Years ago, UK has decided to change the way of operating cash transport; giving away the guns and part of the armouring, and moving into a more technologic type of vehicles. Johnson Security has taken a large part in this migration and has developed lots of new systems that are in use today. Based on that experience, we have now adapted these systems to be used in the rest of Europe, and we have started offering them to our customers. Some of them are based on a remote control system of the vehicles, but not a common tracking system to do a localisation of the vehicle and its occupants, we talk of a real control on distance, with image, sound and access to the commands. Johnson Security is also sensitive to the climate issues, and has started to develop an armoured full electric van; which will be presented in 2017 in the UK first and then in the rest of Europe. Finally, we can talk about the new vehicles types coming up end 2016, but this will be announced by then.

Your opinion on Adriatic region market and FDJI’s position in it? Are you looking for new partners, how do you plan to expand your market share, are you pleased with the current share, what are the biggest challenges for your company? 

Part of the strategy of Johnson Security in 2016 has been to learn about the Adriatic region; the sales team has visited several countries and have met with lots of companies, especially in the cash in transit sector. The first impression has been very positive; we have met with nice people, opened to discuss and show their knowledge and with a lot of interest in welcoming a new partner in the market. The main aspects that has caught my attention is the fact that in all the countries visited, the companies who transport cash are not allowed to process it, except the national companies or central banks of course. That’s an interesting phenomenon, as in the western part of Europe, the trend is for the central banks to get rid of the cash processing to pass it to the cash management companies, saving cost and making the cash cycle shorter and more efficient. That should be one of the major point of debate for these companies if they want to see their business expand in the next years. As Johnson Security did in the past, we would be glad to take part of this change, and we expect it to happen. We have a grand expertise in the cash management and we have been supporting major companies to build their cash centres in the UK and overseas, as an example Johnson Security has been giving support and consultancy to the Post Office for many years. At the moment, we have no customer in the region, but we really wish and hope to have an opportunity soon to demonstrate our capacity and show our quality to the customer.

Tell us something about FDJI’s relations towards its partners, dealers, resellers… How do you support and benefit them? Do you organize trainings and seminaires? Warranty and service?

JSL being based in the UK; we have to work with partners in most of the countries, locally. Our collaboration is based on high quality service, and if we can’t get this standard, we don’t operate, at least until we find the right partner. The partners we are seeking, in most of the cases are in charge of servicing the products we sell along the years, we ensure the customer to have an interlocutor locally, available, qualified and of course speaking the same language. All our partners are fully trained on the maintenance of our products, directly in our facilities, and have periodic updates to ensure the optimum service to our customers. We support them thanks to our remote diagnosis system, which allow us to assist the customer immediately and also to localize any incident instantly. We work to deliver the best quality to our customers for their satisfaction, a good product doesn’t need much repairs.

In the end, your company is a Gold sponsor at Adria Security Summit 2016 in Belgrade. Do you find it a good opportunity for you to penetrate this market and why? What were your impressions from the last one?

Johnson Security attended Adria 2015. It was a very interesting first visit and we decided to come this year as we have developed new dialogues with companies in the Adriatic market. The proximity of the market and the fact that we go there physically make the initial exchange much more real and enthusiastic which may be key to future commercial deals in the region.

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