Locking good

South African security specialist Mutual has more than 25 years of experience in providing businesses and individuals with the equipment they need to stay safe and secure.

Since its formation nearly three decades ago, safe and security manufacturer and supplier Mutual Safe and Security Group has seen South Africa’s political and social landscapes undergo huge changes.

The company has, however, remained strong to its cause and grown to become one of the country’s leading players in the security industry.

Founded in 1984, Mutual is today able to supply businesses with everything they need to ensure their premises remain safe, whether its safes and safety deposit lockers, or vault doors and bullet resistant pay windows, or even anti-bandit doors, fire resistant cabinets and fire extinguishers.

“South Africa has always been at the forefront of the security industry, because of the levels of crime we have experienced over many years,” says Mutual Safe and Security Group marketing director Carol Green. “We have had to stay ahead of the criminals and advance our technology to the point where we are always one step ahead of them.

“About 20 years ago, the criminals were using fairly old-fashioned and forceful instruments, but that has changed and they have become more technologically advanced.”

The company has a manufacturing plant alongside its head office in Pretoria, with a second manufacturing plant located in the Southern Cape town of George, and branch offices in major centres across South Africa.

Mutual also owns another business in California, run by Green’s youngest son, which imports products from the South African entity and distributes them throughout the United States.

“We also export into many other areas such as the Middle East, across Africa and into Europe,” says Green. “We supply many banks throughout Africa and internationally, and petroleum is also a large part of our client base, but our largest client base lies in the retail and corporate sectors.”

As well as working closely with its clients the company ensures employees throughout the business remain committed to the task in hand.

“We encourage the employment of willing young individuals and we’re quite happy to train them up into whichever area of the business happens to be of interest to them,” Green asserts. “We have quite a number of staff members who, having started at a fairly low level, have risen up through the ranks to become managers today and it’s very rewarding to see that happen.

Crime stoppers

When it comes to tracking the changing trends of criminals, Mutual ensures it works closely with the police, who are also customers of the firm.

“We work closely with them, especially when it comes to burglary prevention, but they are also a customer,” Green notes. “We work with them as an education consultant and we work closely with the insurance industry as well.

“We’ve also exposed ourselves internationally at trade shows for many years in many places and have noted international trends of crime.”

Crime levels in South Africa are among some of the highest in the world and therefore Mutual’s work with the police and insurance firms helps it stay ahead of technological advances made by savvy and unscrupulous criminals.

“Breaking into safes is big business in this country, which is why I think the security industry has continued to grow through recessions and poor economic conditions that have affected other industries,” says Green.

With this in mind, because of the services provided by many of Mutual’s products, the company could be viewed as an additional emergency service.

“Everyone and every business, no matter what type of business it is, needs protection,” says Green. “It is not only money that needs to be protected, but also valuables, assets, computer technology and so on. It all needs protection and we offer many and varied forms of security for everything that needs to be locked away or kept private.”

Locked into growth

In times of recession opportunist crime often rises leading many businesses to ensure their assets are adequately protected.

“I wouldn’t say our industry was recession-proof, because with the recession fewer businesses have opened and there are less outlets opening,” notes Green.

“But the construction industry has certainly carried on and we’ve seen a lot of demand for things like record-room doors and strong-room doors from that sector.

“While there have been drops in some areas, there have been rises in others, and we have a division that manufactures highly-advanced electronic components for safes that are specially designed for the banking industry, and that is something that has also grown during the recession.”

“We are definitely moving forward very positively into the future and there are a number of plans afoot for future growth,” she states. “These include new divisions within the business, new developments and a greater concentration on the electronic side of security.”

Green concludes by noting that a few years ago many so-called ‘experts’ predicted that money would soon be obsolete due to technological advances.

“They said that we would all be living on credit, but money is still very much around, so until things change then I guess we’ll still be around as well.”