As a leading global designer and manufacturer of engineered access solutions, Southco says that it stays true to its brand values and sees a bright future for its high value access hardware.
How long has Southco been in business and when/what started the business?
Southco has been in the speciality fasteners and latch business for well over 70 years, though the company is actually much older - dating back to the year 1899 when it was founded as a speciality pipe manufacturer for the Pennsylvania oil industry. Southco expanded into Europe in the 1980s, and has grown both organically and through acquisition. Today, we think we are recognised as the global leader in the design and manufacture of latches, fasteners, hinges as well as monitor mounts, arms and electronic access solutions.
What do you aim to have people think of when they think 'Southco'?
We want our customers to associate the Southco brand with innovation, engineering excellence and the best in quality and service.
We understand that when it comes to product design, the smallest components have the power to make the greatest impact on the person using it. Take, for example, the glove box compartment in a passenger car: the latching mechanism that enables the opening and closing of that compartment is only one of many components that go into the making of the vehicle and does not even impact its driving performance. However - and we are seeing this with our customers again and again - a smooth, positive operation of this specific latch mechanism can define a customer’s positive perception not only of the car interior but also that of the entire vehicle or even the brand.
Southco designs access solutions with the aim of creating positive first impressions that last - from quality and performance to aesthetics and ergonomics.
Do Southco manufacture here in the UK?
Yes, we do. Our European headquarters in Worcester includes a 5,000 sqm manufacturing facility with core processes including injection moulding, cold forming, CNC machining and error proofed assembly.
How has the pandemic affected your ability to supply customers?
Firstly, and most importantly, I am proud of how well our teams have reacted to the challenges presented by Covid to ensure a safe working environment for our people. I am happy to say that after an extremely tough and challenging 2020, our business has rebounded strongly. The strength and resilience of our business gives us great confidence demonstrated by a rapid return to business levels that we last saw prior to the start of the pandemic.
This rapid return presents different challenges, and like most companies operating on a global scale, we are presented with shortages of raw materials, inflated logistics costs and decreased shipping capacity and reliability.
We take great pride in providing high levels of service to our customers, and in this uniquely challenging environment we are working tirelessly with our operations and supply chain partners to do our absolute best. For our global customer services teams it is probably fair to say that this may be the toughest challenge they will ever experience in their working lives. Things are slowly improving, one day at a time, and we are determined to continue providing the excellent care our customers rightly expect from Southco.
Do Southco supply products from stock ranges only, or can the business design and manufacture something specific for a customer application?
Whilst Southco offers a broad portfolio of well over 100,000 standard products, we have a network of global design engineering and project management centres. Our engineers bring know-how and a toolbox of proven mechanisms which allow us to modify or create entirely new custom solutions to solve unique customer application challenges.
Southco’s ability to design and manufacture bespoke access hardware solutions creates immense value. We enable our customers to differentiate themselves from their competitors through unique product designs and innovation that their end users notice.
Where locking is concerned, how have Southco products become 'smarter' over the past decade?
Southco’s portfolio of Electronic Access Solutions has seen dramatic growth over the past decade. As the world has become ‘smarter’, so Southco’s product capabilities have evolved. We now offer a wide portfolio of access control options from electronic keys, keypads, RF proximity readers, RF key fobs to the more recent Bluetooth controllers and Bluetooth embedded products, as well as a range of electromechanical latching and locking devices. The Smart City infrastructure demands intelligent locking and access control devices due to the vulnerability of outdoor equipment in public spaces such as 5G infrastructure, EV charging, or battery swapping stations for urban mobility.
How does Southco see the future of access hardware?
The future for engineered access hardware remains bright and there are many business growth opportunities. To ensure our continued success, we have to follow some clear principles: firstly and foremost, we need to stay close to the industries we serve and adapt to the changing requirements of our customers. The 5G and Smart City infrastructure mentioned above is a perfect example of this: today we are serving industries that did not even exist a decade ago, and we are continuously adapting and developing our product offering to suit the needs of these markets. Secondly, we need to adapt to changes in the world of manufacturing and utilise latest technologies in robotics, IoT and Industry 4.0 to optimise our operations and service. Thirdly, we need to empower and develop our people: at Southco we strongly believe that the quality of our people drives our business success. Our goal is to create a culture that fosters creativity, openness, professionalism, and a focus on delivering customer value.