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Every company strives to be one step ahead of the competition, the next economic headwind, or disruptive technology. For Kwikset, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of door locks and hardware, staying at the forefront of changes stretches back to its earliest days.
The company, founded in California in 1946, established itself by creating a novel tubular lock design that facilitated quick installation. After some initial success, the company struggled in a challenging economy brought on by the Korean War.
However, instead of pulling back on manufacturing, the company’s founders bet on an economic rebound, filling warehouses with locksets and amassing raw materials. Sure enough, when demand spiked after the war, Kwikset was ready and has been one of the top-selling lockset manufacturers in the United States ever since.
“It’s an incredible responsibility ensuring that this iconic American brand continues to be the industry leader.”
The company’s history of reliability and innovation is why Tim Goff, President Hardware and Home Improvement at Kwikset’s parent company, Assa Abloy, is excited by Kwikset’s future.
“It’s an incredible responsibility ensuring that this iconic American brand continues to be the industry leader, continues to provide value to our consumers and continues to be a great employer for thousands of people around the globe,” he says.
“It’s my responsibility to shepherd this brand into its future.”
Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic and the following economic shocks once again demonstrated the company’s ability to be prescient.
“One of our core strategies is understanding that disruption is going to create opportunity and it’s the best time to get on the offensive,” Goff says.
According to Goff, Kwikset saw early signs of supply chain constraints during the pandemic and quickly secured the raw materials needed to maintain production levels, especially semiconductors.
“Disruption is going to create opportunity and it’s the best time to get on the offensive.”
“We knew we could help the American public by continuing to provide them with good products to secure their homes.
“So we went long on semiconductor kits for our electronics and we got out in front of the issues that became incredibly difficult to deal with for everybody,” he says. “It allowed us to continue to serve our consumers like no other lock company could for well over a year.”
In a second example of the company’s foresight, when the pandemic hit, Kwikset had already been moving one of its distribution hubs to a location well-positioned to handle bottlenecks at the Port of Los Angeles and related connections.
According to Goff, that move, while critical during the post-pandemic supply chain crunch, is part of a larger effort at the company to evaluate its manufacturing footprint for improvements in efficiency, speed to market and ultimately consumer experience. This will prepare Kwikset for future disruptions.
In addition, he says the company’s strong network of supplier partners, like packaging manufacturer GMS Industries, plays a vital role in the company’s deft approach to supply change management. According to Goff, many of these suppliers have maintained a relationship with Kwikset for decades.
“Whatever the disruption may be, whether it’s a pandemic, a geopolitical issue, we are learning from it, and we are building our supply chain to be shorter, more efficient, faster and closer to the consumer,” he says.
Goff’s faith in Kwikset is well-founded; he has been with the company for more than two decades. He grew his career through various operations and sales roles before taking on the Chief Marketing Officer role in 2015 and was then named President in 2021. His leadership role continued when Assa Abloy acquired the Kwikset brand and operations in 2023.
Goff’s experience in so many facets of Kwikset’s business provides him with a unique personal connection to Kwikset’s hundreds of employees worldwide.
“As I walk the halls here in our corporate headquarters or when I go out and see any one of our facilities around the globe, I almost always run into somebody that I’ve either worked with or has worked for me over those 26 years,” he says.
“We’re in the process right now of looking at two or three groundbreaking technologies”
Goff says that the company is becoming a significant player in the IoT space. Kwikset was among the first companies to create internet-connected smart locks, and Goff says the company will continue investing in technologies that enhance the concept of a “connected home.”
“We’re in the process right now of looking at two or three groundbreaking technologies in terms of credentialing into the home,” he says. “It’s going to get simpler, easier, more convenient as we go forward in time.”
Goff says the company’s focus on simplicity is also a key to its future.
“Our latest brand positioning statement is ‘a smarter kind of simple’,” he says. “We want to appeal to the American consumer’s need for simple, easy, yet incredibly secure ways to manage their home and their lifestyle.”