In a world where major security players thrive through acquisitions, CDVI holds a different philosophy. The French access control and locking system manufacturer works with its global partners for innovative technology and high-quality products.
Founded in 1985 and headquartered in Pantin, France, CDVI is known locally for one of its earliest models, the DigiCode. With high market demand for keypads, CDVI has grown from domestic sales to global sales. Today it has 20 subsidiaries worldwide, including the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. The company's unique business model and strategic partnerships has increased its market share.
CDVI expands in the global market by partnering with the local companies, instead of acquiring them. Within the partnership, managers of the local companies still retain ownership. When an Italian company joined CDVI's group, the original owner was kept onboard. Local managers could benefit from the group's support, while the group could understand local demands from their partners.
Cooperation within the group is based on trust and friendship rather than profits. "As we are working with the same interest, it is business with a great deal of friendship," said David Benhammou, President of CDVI. "We are working together like a family."
Making this amicable philosophy a reality requires effort. "Developing trust with partners could take years," Benhammou said. "It takes time, effort, understanding and communication, because every region has a different business culture and way of doing things."
Promoting user education on the market is important, as well as observing existing market practices. Having an open mind to observe, analyze and learn from others with different — but possibly better strategies — is important, said Benhammou. CDVI's lock factory in Taiwan is one successful example of improved business practices, after 10 years of effort and investment in the region. To serve the greater China market, CDVI is partnering with system integrators to set up offices in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.
Business strategy alone is not enough for success, if the products are not competitive. To continue its success in the market, having innovative technology is crucial. CDVI has had a quality reputation for more than 20 years in Europe, but proving itself to the new markets cannot be done by judging its outside appearance, Benhammou said. Thorough testing and real-life applications are needed to prove product quality and stability.
CDVI is dedicated to manufacturing, with its research and development team accounting for about 20 percent of its workforce. It manufactures all parts of its access control and locking solutions to ensure quality.
Production locations are chosen according to where the best resources are, rather than the lowest production cost. CDVI have factories in six to seven countries, including France, Taiwan and Italy. "We choose to manufacture in Taiwan because it has the best know-how skills in locks," Benhammou said. "As for Italy, it has the best automation know-how."
Many French companies set up factories in Tunisia because of its tax-free business structure, but CDVI chose not to, as local businesses do not have the required skills. This is reflected in its approach to China. "If we set up a factory in China, the reason would be to better serve the huge local demands, not because of low production costs," said Benhammou.
Choosing locations with the best know-how incurs higher production costs, but there are ways to keep it low. For manufacturing, CDVI follows the production strategy of car manufacturers with factory automation, to save labor costs and maintain quality, Benhammou said. In line with this model, CDVI's Taiwanese factory is now 80 percent automated.
Profitability is not the sole reason for CDVI's business. "For us, money is important, but work means more than just making money," said Benhammou. "It is the journey of learning that brings satisfaction in knowledge and life fulfillment."
This self-enriching philosophy is shown in the company's positive attitude towards competition. "We like competition because it means there's a market in what we are doing," Benhammou said. "Competition would also stimulate market growth and makes it more dynamic."
CDVI has marketing and technical committees to research trends in technology, along with understanding how to best help customers. "We don't do 'me too' products even if there's a market for it," said Benhammou. "We always have some value-added features when we release a product to the market." CDVI was among the first manufacturers to release wireless access control systems and backlit keypads.
While integration tempts access control companies to enter video surveillance, CDVI believes access control remains a significant growth market. "All our products can be integrated with other systems, but we are specialized with the doors," said Benhammou. "Our profession is access control and we will only do what we are good at."
CDVI will strengthen its leadership in 2009, with more management of its local partners. It will assume 100 percent ownership of its local companies in the future to increase its market share worldwide.