Home Technology Integrator: Elk Helped Us Get into Home Security Biz

When Digital Audio Video Environments (DAVE) looked into adding security to its audio, video and home-automation business, the company selected Elk Products because “they care about custom.”

Digital Audio Video Environments (DAVE) is a large home-technology integration company in Rochester, N.Y., specializing in audio, video, home automation and car stereo. Home security was a new thing for them when they entered that market a few years ago.

When it came to selecting a vendor, “We did all the research,” says DAVE principal Eric Gosiewski. “Everyone told us ‘Elk’ because they were ‘more custom’ than the others.”

Elk Products is one of the original makers of integrated security and home automation systems. Based in Hildebran, N.C., the company has been building on its flagship M1 platform since 2004.

Elk Product Highlights

M1 Gold Alarm Panel features 16 hardwired zones (expandable to 208) and supports up to 144 wireless zones (expandable with additional wireless receivers).

Two-Way Wireless Technology is offered in Elk smoke detectors, motion sensors and four-button keyfobs, providing defense against interference, hacking and jamming.

Home-Automation Interfaces enable integration with third-party systems via RS-232, IP, Z-Wave, Lutron Radio Ra, UPB, and relay/contact closure.

C1M1 Dual-Path Communicator provides fast, reliable communications to the central monitoring station over IP and cellular pathways, as well as providing remote access and control via the free ElkLink mobile app.

Remote Access options include Elk's own ElkLink (free with C1M1), as well as third-party apps (eKeypad, M1 Touch Pro, ConnectOne) for richer integration with third-party cameras and home-automation devices.

Elk occupies an interesting position in the security/automation market. High-volume security dealers often use their products for “higher end” security and control offerings, including Z-Wave-enabled smart devices.

At the same time, traditional home technology integrators like DAVE often use the M1 as an entry-level line for clients who don’t want a full-blown automation system like Control4 or Savant – both of which are offered by DAVE.

When DAVE and similar companies want to pair security with higher-end control, Elk products fit right in, with two-way drivers that enable seamless integration.

Security Helping Hand

Traditional home-technology specialists have been challenged when moving into security. One reason is that many of the security giants don’t have time for lower-volume installers and don’t have the depth of knowledge when it comes to low-voltage integration.

“That was one of our struggles,” Gosiewski says. “No one would talk to us beyond just the specific alarm products.”

On the other hand, his first conversation with Elk “lasted like an hour,” he recalls. “We said, ‘We’ll be loyal to you, but you have to help us.’”

In the early days, DAVE would bring blueprints to Elk for help in designing a system, according to Gosiewski. “They really helped us get into the business. I feel like they go out of the way to serve the custom market so we can make our customers happy.”

Another integrator, Security Integrators, LLC, has had the same experience with Elk. Company principal Brooks Walker says his “small business” has been installing low-voltage systems since the early 1980s.

While Security Integrators do a handful of higher-end control projects, the company typically installs M1 as a complete security and home automation offering, as it has “the ability to do just about everything for my clients and for so much less than using larger automation systems,” Walker says.

With M1’s long history in the marketplace, he says he hasn’t had any technical problems with the Elk products.

Better still, “I have always been happy with their tech support and have not had to ever wait very long for them to be available by phone.”

Next up for Walker: “I'm just in the middle of an install using the C1M1 and think it will be a great addition to any security installation.”

“We truly feel respect is fundamental to building relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction.” 

— Amy Strickland, Elk

The C1M1 is Elk’s newish dual-path communicator, enabling communications with the central monitoring station via both Internet and cellular, as well as remote access via the free ElkLink app.

This year, Elk got a special nod in CE Pro’s annual Quest for Quality Awards, recognizing vendors who provide superior service to home-technology integrators.

Elk’s Amy Strickland says Elk service is key, starting from the live operators who answer phone calls, “preventing dealers from being lost in confusing phone menus.”

She adds, “Customer feedback is taken seriously; we carefully listen and pass their feedback to product management. We truly feel respect is fundamental to building relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction.”