With 20 years experience in the security surveillance industry, Paul Elsey was well qualified to set up his own company designing and manufacturing security cameras and positioning systems in 2006. As a ‘white label’ or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) goods supplier, Silent Sentinel was able to focus 100% of its efforts on developing a top quality product range for this expanding industry.
Paul says: “As designers and engineers, it has always been essential to us to develop innovative products which, in terms of their design, build quality, capabilities and performance, are at the forefront of what is available in the market. Working on an OEM basis allowed us to concentrate our efforts on these areas, without having to worry about the branding and marketing of the products.”
As such, Silent Sentinel now have a product range that rivals its competition with USPs to be reckoned with, including the only positioning system of its kind outside the military to use robotic technology, and a camera so robust it was the single design of several installed at Heathrow Airport to be unaffected by snow during the winters of 2010 and 2011.
Paul adds: “We really are very proud of what we produce here, whether it’s these off the shelf products or bespoke contracts that require a totally unique system design and build like one we created for the 2012 Olympics in London. R&D is very important to us and we’re constantly looking to improve on what we’ve created before, and the fact that we design, build and manufacture our products here in the UK is, we feel, an added selling point that many companies cannot claim.”
However, changes in market conditions over the last two years have led Paul and the team to a change in strategy; finding that the OEM approach was no longer offering the opportunities it once did, Silent Sentinel took the plunge in launching itself as a branded supplier direct to the end user market. This has brought with it new challenges, as the team now concentrate on revealing themselves to customers who may well have experience of their products, but without knowing it.
“We knew deciding to go straight to the market ourselves was the right decision and were confident that once the customer base could identify us as the owner of our products, they would want to buy from us. But you shouldn’t underestimate how much investment, both in terms of time and finances, such a task requires. Furthermore, we found that our bank wasn’t willing to lend additional money for this activity.”
At this point the Silent Sentinel’s accountant pointed them in the direction of the Regional Growth Loan Fund, managed by Finance East who agreed a £200,000 loan to support expansion of the marketing and sales strategy to enhance brand awareness of the company, as well as to assist in up-front costs of delivering a number of confirmed large-scale bespoke contracts.
Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East commented: “We were impressed with Silent Sentinel’s track record – the team boast senior personnel with significant experience in the market sector and a good mix of technical and business skills. Furthermore the company have an extensive product suite with ownership of all intellectual property rights, together with a strong future product development roadmap. We are delighted to be able to offer this funding and look forward to working with Paul and the team to ensure they reach their goals for growth.”