May Edition 2021

Haniel J Lynn, CEO of Kastle Systems, Speaks to The Silicon Review: ‘We’re proud to say our JD Power scores are on par with some of the premier leaders in customer service for the retail and hospitality industries’


“We give clients a completely integrated service for Access Control and Video Surveillance from design and installation, to maintenance and monitoring for the long term.”

Kastle Systems is a provider of Managed Security services. It provides physical security solutions to over 40,000 businesses nationwide with state-of-the-art touchless access control, video surveillance, visitor management, and more.

The company is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. It has additional offices located in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and Sydney.

Interview Excerpt: Haniel J Lynn

Q. Brief us about the history of your company.

Kastle Systems launched operations in 1972 with the mission of providing a more effective, efficient, and convenient approach to securing commercial spaces. 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 its tenants. With the advent of cloud computing, we have expanded and scaled up to additional verticals like residential multifamily, enterprise businesses, education, construction, and more. We have also expanded to offices across the United States.

Q. What are the different services your company offer?

We are a physical security provider, providing "Security-as-a-Service," which describes Kastle's end-to-end approach for servicing clients' physical security needs by taking full responsibility for their security package and operations. We differ from competitors who simply sell systems (hardware and software) to businesses for them to run on their own. We give clients a completely integrated service for Access Control and Video Surveillance from design and installation to maintenance and monitoring for the long term.

Lacking security expertise, many businesses who attempt to run it themselves eventually face unanticipated operational challenges like staff turnover, training needs, ad-hoc maintenance, and replacement issues, missing software updates, and other problems where they must consult a series of outside vendors to address incurring significant expense. We deliver through a SaaS model of continuous updating, so we can provide the latest and greatest in security performance.

Additionally, we control our technology stack, so we directly deliver the end user experience to ensure we manage quality and can tailor service and support through to the last mile which makes our service consistent, but unique for each client.

Q. Kastle Systems has been leading security for 48 years with new technologies and advanced security solutions. How have you managed to lead from the front over the years?

Building on the comments above, 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 the 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, elegantly simple visitor management systems, or even integrating vaccination status into the access control process, 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 and the software, which is well beyond the capabilities of a typical security systems integrator.

Additionally, continuing innovation requires continuing discovery to stay engaged, energized, and informed from top management to the service team. Employees participate at Kastle both as students and teachers. We keep employees motivated, informed, and inspired to create new security solutions for clients. We do our best as leaders, product developers, and marketers to listen to what's working and what's not in the marketplace. We constantly push ourselves to listen and learn from our customers and then create feedback loops with our internal teams to talk about how we constantly improve products and deliver our services.

Q. The industry's leading security provider, Kastle Systems, operates and manages security systems for over 10,000 locations and 40,000 businesses around the clock. A terrific feat, I must say. How uniquely do you address your customers' pain points?

We serve the complete security experience for our clients—from designing the system, selling and installing the hardware and software, hosting the data and software, maintaining the system, and monitoring the security of their organizations. We provide all these components delivered by one provider on a monthly subscription basis. In the long run, it's generally a less expensive and more efficient arrangement for the customer to get all the necessary oversight and upkeep paid for in one monthly fee, rather than paying for the upgrades, maintenance, repairs, and monitoring all as separate, ad-hoc expenses.

Also, we design the systems with the intention and knowledge that we will be running and maintaining them ourselves, with dedicated service teams, so we put far more care in the upfront preparation and ongoing maintenance to avoid "customer pain points" because we effectively "own" them. They will be our pain points, so we are highly motivated to address them as uniquely as if they were our own.

While we have won numerous awards over the years for innovation, best access control, best physical security, and more, what we focus on achieving is an internal "award" in customer satisfaction that tells us we are succeeding. We work with JD Power and Associates, the noted leader in measuring customer satisfaction across industries, to survey our customers twice a year on their satisfaction with Kastle and our employees’ performance compensation is dependent on our scores. We are proud to say that our scores are on par with some of the premier leaders in customer service for retail and hospitality industries, which is unheard of in a commercial service like security.

Q. What are the factors that contribute to your success? And would you like to talk about your achievements as a company or share a success story?

First, to build our strategy around providing an ongoing solution for our clients that covers everything under the domain of security operations. It doesn't stop by providing the best systems; rather, it ensures that the expertise required to design, install, monitor, and maintain the systems is made available to the clients forever, thereby forging a long-term relationship with the client. We actually get better and more efficient at serving the customer over time as we know their business, it becomes more profitable, and the customer becomes more loyal.

Second, to support this service model, we go deep on serving customers better, finding the right people to be passionate about the service we provide. It's so foundational to our business that, as I mentioned in a previous response, we hire JD Power and Associates to make sure we deliver on it.

Finally, we see ourselves as a technology company that happens to deliver physical security. We continue to seek inspiration for innovation in other technology-related industries outside of security to drive our development focus, like cloud computing, SaaS, wireless communications, IoT, health and wellness, and any other forms that humans are adopting in their routines to make their lives easier, richer and safer. This gives us a steeper innovation curve for competitors to follow but also generates greater preference for our end users where our service becomes an amenity rather than a utility.

Through our service model and technology leadership, we have the privilege of serving some of the most iconic buildings and real estate companies in the US.

Q. Keeping in view what your company is offering, the future seems highly promising. Just out of curiosity, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

In the current business climate, where organizations are increasingly comfortable in working with SaaS platforms, where software updates are pushed to the service automatically, and users have continuous access based on a subscription model, our managed security approach seems to fit. Additionally, as firms seek to streamline their in-house overhead, outsourcing access to experts seems to be a logical model. This is an efficient and effective way for our clients to stay current on the latest in technology and experience, so they reap the benefits of our focus on security, technology, and experience developments in a way they couldn’t themselves.

Finally, especially as technology acceleration curves and ramps steepen and create new capabilities and risks that is challenging for companies who aren't experts in these technologies to understand, let alone manage, we should see further adoption of this model by buyers to relinquish focus to specialized firms so they can concentrate on their core business.

"We serve the complete security experience for our clients—from designing the system, selling and installing the hardware and software, hosting the data and software, maintaining the system, and actually monitoring the security of their organizations."