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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Haniel Lynn, Kastle Systems CEO: ‘We will Grow by Leveraging Open-Standards Interoperability to Serve More Enterprise Businesses with Multi-Location Operations as Well as Partner with Smart Property Management Platforms.


“We look for new societal behaviours beyond security that technology enables and think how we can integrate them into our service.”

New hardware and software technologies are cutting the cost and complexity of access control and video security in single- and multi-tenant buildings.

Innovations like cloud computing, mobile BLE smartphone credentials, and AI-enabled video analytics are enabling security functions like access control and video surveillance to be monitored remotely reducing on-site space use and staffing requirements as well as streamlining operations like identity management and property use data analysis.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Kastle Systems.

Kastle Systems has been leading the security industry for more than 45 years with new technologies and advanced security solutions. Named the 2015 Systems Integrator of the Year for outstanding innovation and customer experience by SDM, the industry’s leading trade publication, Kastle operates and manages sophisticated security systems for its clients remotely, around-the-clock. The company protects more than 10,000 locations nationwide and internationally with the most innovative security solutions available including access control, video surveillance, visitor management and integrated identity management.

The company was incorporated in 1972 and is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

Haniel Lynn, Kastle Systems CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Kastle Systems launched operations in 1972 with the mission of providing a more effective, efficient and convenient approach to securing commercial properties. The idea for Kastle grew out of a need expressed by commercial real estate owners in the DC area for an outsourcing solution for the management of their security issues to a vendor with real security expertise so they focus on running their core business. Initially, we just focused on servicing this commercial real estate community and their tenants. We have expanded over time to additional verticals like residential multifamily, enterprise businesses, education, construction and more. We have also expanded to offices across the United States.

How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

In 1969, our founder, Gene Samburg, worked for Westinghouse in Washington DC and was asked to install a security system for the White House during the Nixon Administration. The Secret Service had very exacting demands and did a deep threat scenario analysis with Gene, well beyond any standard approach for a typical client, and Gene engineered the tailored system for them which was highly successful. Westinghouse was pleased to have designed such a sophisticated system for such a high-profile client.

Two years later, a commercial property owner friend asked Gene to use the same “tailored-design” approach as employed by the Secret Service for several of his buildings in DC that were experiencing on-going theft problems. Westinghouse was reluctant to pursue such a tailored solution for a “typical” office building client, when they felt offices were too difficult to secure and spend so much effort in customized design. Gene left Westinghouse to take the project, took the time to understand all the security issues facing these office buildings, and created a tailored design to meet the exact requirements of the client. This was how Kastle began and this “tailored design” security approach remains one of the key principles of Kastle’s “managed security” strategy that differentiates the company in the world of security services. We don’t just sell systems. We design, install, monitor, and maintain the systems for the long-term to ensure they operate to the client’s specific needs.

What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?

We are a “Managed Security” provider, which means we run the entire security operation for our clients’ businesses on a long-term basis. This service concept can be a challenge for many potential clients to grasp initially – there just aren’t many security providers that offer this end-to-end approach.

Typically, a business will seek to “buy a security system” (like they buy copiers or computers) from a trusted hardware or software brand or reseller, then have it installed and start to monitor their security themselves. The trouble with this approach is that they are generally not security experts and will frequently run into operational challenges for which they never planned like staff turnover, on-going training needs, ad-hoc maintenance and replacement issues, missing software updates, and other problems for which they have to seek an array of miscellaneous outside vendors which gets expensive and time consuming.

Kastle’s approach is to sell a long-term security solution, not just the system. We provide on-going security by giving clients not only the excellent systems (hardware/software from the best manufacturers) but also the management expertise to design, install, monitor, and maintain the systems forever, effectively becoming a long-term partner that is always available.

We’ve harnessed technology to evolve this approach to the “next generation” where the access control system is moved off-premise to the cloud which provides greater security from cyber hacking than the standard access server sitting on-site. This also allows Kastle and clients to monitor access from anywhere with internet access and allows Kastle to “push” software updates immediately from the cloud to the client’s system without any disruption. While we as security experts know this methodology provides greater security and convenience, potential clients may be wary of “the cloud” and fearful of perceived internet security risks it may present when in fact the cyber threat is actually far greater using their existing on-premise network.

How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

We look for innovations in other industries for disruptions that may inform how people’s innate behaviors can be simplified or made more convenient. We try to identify new societal behaviors beyond security that technology enables and then think how we can integrate them into our service. Through our innovation, we look to create an experience that is truly convenient and effortless in our products and services. We also partner with other companies who are more focused on specific needs outside of Kastle’s core operational strategy to deliver a differentiated combined experience. For example, we have partnered with occupant experience apps to leverage their expertise in targeted market segments where we can add our access control and security service to their platforms.

What are the factors that make your brand most innovative and why?

In many ways, we view ourselves as a technology company rather than solely a security company. Widening that frame of reference keeps us open and aware of advancements in a broader world of ideas, industries and human behavior which continuously provides impetus for creativity we can bring to security and smart building systems. This perspective enables us to create experiences that are truly unique in the marketplace, like hands-free Bluetooth access credentials or an elegantly simple visitor management system, because we think about the technology of security and the convenience of the user experience. That can only happen when we have integrated the hardware, software and service, which is well beyond the capabilities of a typical security systems integrator.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Kastle Systems has recently extended its capabilities in mobile-based access control.

While we have offered KastlePresence®, our mobile-device-based Bluetooth-enabled security solution (think of your cell phone as your office key) to customers for years, we have now embedded that functionality into a Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows Kastle to partner with third-party ‘property experience platforms’ as their access control function. Our partnerships mentioned previously with Allegion and Rise Buildings are examples.

These providers offer a simple app that can enable residents or tenants to manage daily resident activities from their smartphone like rent payments, package deliveries, maintenance requests, pre-authorized visitor access, amenity usage reservations and more. Our Kastle SDK allows them to plug-in a Kastle Access Control solution into their pre-existing platform to add one more benefit to the resident or tenant experience menu.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We will grow by leveraging our open-standards interoperability to serve more enterprise businesses with multi-location operations as well as continuing to partner with smart property management platforms. As buildings become smarter, including their access control, identity management and video surveillance systems integrating with lighting, HVAC, space design efficiency, etc., the built environment will have increasingly more positive impact on the world’s sustainability.

Haniel Lynn: A Formidable Leader

Haniel J. Lynn is the Chief Executive Officer of Kastle Systems International, the industry leader in managed security solutions and services consisting of a family of five security brands including Kastle Systems, Mutual Security Services, Stat Land Security Services, CheckVideo and Urban Alarm. Mr. Lynn joined Kastle in 2018, bringing more than 25 years of global operating and executive management experience growing and scaling enterprises from startup to $1 billion.

Mr. Lynn has distinctive strengths in strategy, leadership, and operations and possesses a unique ability to oscillate between high-level vision and tactical execution while inspiring a culture of teamwork.

Mr. Lynn graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Wharton School.

“Our approach is to sell a long-term security solution, not just the system. We provide on-going security by giving clients not only the excellent systems but also the management expertise to design, install, monitor, and maintain the systems forever, effectively becoming a long-term partner that is always available.”