Security Industry Association (SIA) member Boon Edam Inc. is a leading manufacturer of revolving doors and security turnstiles. The company is headquartered in Lillington, North Carolina, with additional offices across the United States and internationally.
SIA spoke with Valerie Currin, president and managing director at Boon Edam, about her experiences with the company.
Valerie, tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are.
VC: That’s quite a story. I’m embarking on my 18th year with the company. Actually, my career started with a company Boon Edam acquired in 2005 – it was another physical security entrance company that was a manufacturer of security turnstiles. I was in a sales role at the time of the acquisition, supporting our outside business development team, and a few years later I was promoted to manager of our customer service team.
At the time, my boss took a big chance on me by promoting me within the company. I didn’t have a lot of management experience, but I was very close to the business, and my management and leadership skills evolved over time. My role managing our customer service team evolved into managing a bigger part of the organization, which covered our technical-support group and field operations. I worked on anything and everything that touched the customer once a purchase order was placed. I was in that role for a couple of years and began to miss being in front of the customer. So I moved into a role managing our business development team for the Eastern United States for the next couple of years. I had a blast being out in the market again and understanding what else our customers desired from us as a partner. At the end of that journey, the position of president and managing director became available. I always had a vision of one day obtaining that role. To be very transparent, it was earlier than I intended, but when an opportunity presents itself, I’m a big believer that if it makes sense for you personally and professionally, you take a shot at it. So I did and was promoted to president in 2019.
About six months later, the global pandemic hit, and I always tell everybody that if I had known that was coming, I might not have taken the role. I think sometimes, though, it’s good not to know what’s ahead of you, and I’ve enjoyed being in the role ever since. Obviously, there were some challenges that I didn’t anticipate in my first couple of years, but it’s been great to see how resilience shows up in times of crisis. And I think it’s really given me and the company the ability to come together and navigate challenging times, making us stronger as an organization.
Boon Edam has been around for well over 100 years. What’s it like helming a company with such a long historical perspective on things?
VC: That’s a great question. We’re actually about to hit our 150th year in 2023, which is very exciting. And let’s face it, it’s unheard of. It’s an honor to be a part of a company who values its heritage, customers and employees. Boon Edam has a “family feel” and a culture that I think many employees desire to be a part of. We all want to come to work and enjoy the place that we work in and the people that we work with. We are so blessed to have so many long-tenured employees in the organization who are driven to see Boon Edam succeed for another 150 years.
Over Boon Edam’s 148 years in the market, it has developed many products, expanded its operations throughout the world and served many customers across the globe. I am honored to help lead part of the organization in the Americas with the support of our global operations behind me. While our organization has many entities to support the global market, we are all connected by the Boon Edam heritage, and that continues to make this global company feel like a family.
We hear a lot in the security field about constantly changing technology. How have sales and customer service changed since you started your career?
VC: They’ve evolved quite drastically, and I think that’s something you must be open to if you are going to provide a great customer experience. With Boon Edam, since we are a manufacturer of revolving doors, security doors and turnstiles, it’s important that we understand how our product needs to evolve to keep up with the constant changes in access control technology. What we’ve had to do as a company is stay close to the customer to ensure that we understand where their future needs are going – particularly when it comes to compliance and safety.
Over the course of your career, what’s been the most personally rewarding project you’ve taken on?
VC: I would say the most personally rewarding project has to be this role — taking on the role of president in a time of a global pandemic. You learn resilience, perseverance and the meaning of a true challenge. You may think that you have that already when you enter a role such as this, but when you put it to the test you learn it is another thing entirely. And if you have a clear vision and the right team behind you, you can be successful. We’ve been very fortunate to continue to grow throughout the pandemic.
If you were to talk to our employees, I feel like our culture has improved during the pandemic; for me, it’s been very rewarding just to lead the charge for Boon Edam during such a difficult time and see us have the success we’ve been able to cultivate.
With your experience now, what do you think the future world of access control is going to look like?
VC: I think the future of access control will include more connected products. We want everything to be simple. We want everything to be easy to use. I think what I see with access control is that it’s always going to be evolving, and you have to be willing as a company to evolve with it. You can’t be on the sidelines. You’ve got to understand what’s changing in the industry and adapt to that.
I can remember coming up in the industry in my early 20s, and access control was just being talked about. I was just telling this story to some new employees the other day – I was coming in a couple of years after 9/11, and suddenly security was everything. Security and access control used to be looked at as something that was “nice to have,” but then it became a “need to have.” And it’s not just protecting buildings, employees and assets from something bad happening. It’s also making sure we’re keeping up with safety standards – especially now in light of the pandemic.
If you had any advice for young professionals who are looking to break into the security industry, what would it be?
VC: My advice is to be open to something that you may have never considered. Take a step back and think about the world that’s evolving around you. Things like workplace violence, theft and data breaches can and are happening every day. Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in. We must think about risks and safety in the workplace and society. The security industry has done so much to evolve and be more inclusive since I started. The education opportunities are endless for someone who wants to join the industry. Do not be scared to pursue something that could seem challenging. I think it’s one of the greatest industries out there. It’s obvious why I’ve stayed in it for 18 years. I think what we do makes a positive impact on the world. And if you’re looking for something where you can make a difference, this is an excellent industry to be a part of.
The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association.