Each has been in the security business for more than 40 years, and both abandoned large security manufacturers several years ago to ally with a smaller, more attentive vendor — Elk Products in Hildebran, N.C.
As it happens, both Fisher and Delmore have fond memories of Wade Moose, the colorful leader of Moose Products who later founded Elk (he remains an investor but is not involved in the company today). Elk officially entered the security business in 1994 and its flagship M1 control panel remains a staple of Elk's ever-expanding portfolio of security and home-automation solutions.
The two dealers appreciate Elk for more than its Southern hospitality. They embrace company's M1 security panel for its large capacity (208 zones) and rich rules engine that makes technicians look like “heroes,” according to Fisher.
The ELK-M1XSLU (above) is a dedicated Elk-M1 serial expander for connecting an M1 Control to a Lutron RadioRA2 Main Repeater.
The M1XSLZW is a specialized Elk-M1 serial expander for connecting an M1 Control to Z-Wave enabled devices through a Leviton VRC0P+3 Z-Wave Serial Interface.
ELK’s Two-Way Wireless products incorporate advanced features to ensure secure transmissions, increase reliability, extend battery life, simplify installation, and provide innovative security enhancements.
The C1M1 dual-path communicator provides super-fast, full data communications to Central Monitoring Stations over IP and cellular pathways. Transmissions are automatically directed over the best pathway for quickest communications.
Beyond that, though, the two companies are pretty different. Keyth Technologies is a big organization that is all about security, generally shunning home automation and audio/video. Delmore, on the other hand, is a one-man smart-home provider who favors Elk specifically for its integrated smart-home functionality.
In these two cases at least, Elk provides something for everyone.
Tell us about your business.
Fisher: We’re about 75% high-end residential, 20% business/commercial, and 10% mixed low-down/no down [as in low-money down]. We’ve been in the business for 43 years.
Delmore: I’m a one-man shop and I’ve been in the business for over 40 years doing residential and commercial security and automation.
When did you start using Elk and why?
Fisher: In 2004, before the ELK M1 hit the market, we were involved at the “input” stage of product development. Why? Because [large competitor] was falling apart, the products were getting stale, support was non-existent, and loyalty eroded. Elk offered a boutique custom product designed as a robust security system as the top priority and automation as secondary. I had founder Wade Moose — a mastermind in my book — on speed-dial, and he invited me to communicate with engineers on the M1 project.
Delmore: I started using Elk since the day they opened up. We used Moose in the past, but had moved to [competitor vendor]. I was walking through ISC [security conference] and bumped into Wade at the Elk booth.
I liked what they were doing with automation and security, marrying the two.
There are a ton of security and automation panels out there. What makes Elk different?
Fisher: It’s a serious security system first, and that filled the bill – 208 zones and RULES! I never dreamed a rules-based machine was for me or our team. I never felt there was a need to create your own exceptions to the norm.
Custom features and bending the norm was not what I was aiming for. Usually custom solutions require custom technicians and custom repairs, necessitating a group of over-compensated technical responders. Not so with Elk’s rules.
A medium-level tech gets “charged up” when he/she can configure a suitable solution for the client and be one of the “heroes,” so to speak. Elk’s creation allows techs to feel accomplished and an integral part of a can-do work environment.
How do you use the automation features?
Fisher: A/V integrators are impressed with the M1 as it integrates well with third-party controllers. The panel provides system status and also offers additional inputs for the control panel if desired.
For us, though, we try to stay away from automation to focus on more predictable security. I don't think it's time for us to tackle automation right now, given the relative uncertainty.
Delmore: I can’t sell a product unless I can stand behind it. I put Elk in my house 13 years ago and it still works. I use Z-Wave with it, and also relays for sprinklers …. I like the rules engine, like if the smoke detector goes off, unlock the door. You don’t want the fire department to put an axe through your front door if it’s a false alarm.
I do that for customers, too, using the Lutron interface to control shades. We have one client in a six-story office building. Outside of main working hours, they can extend the air conditioning, using tasks I set up for two, four, six or eight hours.
What else do you like about Elk?
Fisher: Everyone in the custom residential arena should care about a friendly flexible system. Elk is not a cheap date, but it is a feature-enriched “YES I CAN DO THAT” machine that makes you look like the pro you are.
There are also economics to realize with Elk, for example a 16-zone input expansion board compared to everyone else’s at eight zones, plus the large zone capacity of 208 outputs.
Delmore: They speak to their customers and listen to them. They have the best customer service in the industry.