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Sentry Protection Products Helps Companies Stay Safe

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Sentry offers impact-resistant equipment and collision warning systems to the industrial and distribution sectors.

Many companies focus on offering consumers the cheapest product they can, but Sentry Protection Products goes the opposite route. Owner James Ryan says his company thrives by providing the best solution it can to meet their needs.

“Sometimes that means a more expensive product,” he admits, but notes that the value of the product is worth the extra cost to Sentry’s clients. “In the end, the customer cares about solving the problem.”

Based in Lakewood, Ohio, Sentry offers impact-resistant equipment and collision warning systems to the industrial and distribution sectors. Ryan says the company, which started operations in 1997, has brought many innovative solutions to its market, including the first energy-absorbing building column protector.

When the product’s inventor pitched it to Sentry in 1998, the company immediately recognized its potential. “It makes sense anywhere you’ve got building columns and vehicles that are going to run into that column,” Ryan explains. “We brought that innovation to the world.” 

The Column Sentry column protector was and remains the original column protector of the industry, safeguarding interior building columns against collision damage. 

The company also recently launched a new generation of its blind corner warning system product. When mounted in an aisle of pallet racks, the system will send out audio and visual warnings if there is motion detected on both sides of a blind corner.

Sentry has launched new generations of the collision warning system that have made it more efficient. Today, “We’re using fewer parts and pieces to put the same thing together,” he says. “It results in a product that gets a better price and brings a better product to market.

“That’s a product we’ve had since 2013,” Ryan says, adding that its new version is more efficient because it uses fewer batteries. This allows the product to be half the weight and a third of the size of its previous incarnations.

Thanks to these reductions, users can fit the system in more places. “A lot of the efficiencies come from redesigning what was good and what was bad in what we had previously [offered],” Ryan says.

Working With Experts

Sentry has consistently offered innovations to its clients without employing a large staff. “We don’t define success by our number of employees,” Ryan says.

Instead, the company has hundreds of people working on its behalf through its vendor network. Usually, he explains, Sentry will find a problem that needs to be solved in a commercial or industrial environment.

It will then meet with one of its manufacturing partners about developing a product. “We figure out how to do that with the people that know the manufacturing side the best and create that idea,” Ryan describes. “We’ve been very successful without having to grow to a large number of employees.”

Showing Off

Another focus for Sentry is in growing its sales and its share of its markets. To achieve this goal, “We have expanded our network of manufacturer’s reps,” Ryan says.

Previously, Sentry called upon resellers of products, such as forklifts and pallet systems. Although the company used this strategy to get close to end-users, it chose to get even closer in 2019.

Currently, Sentry has manufacturer’s representatives covering all 50 states. Its manufacturing representatives give it the opportunity to meet face-to-face with customers in situations where it would not otherwise be possible, and help develop a closer connection with customers across the country.

“We feel like we’ve got a really terrific team,” Ryan says. “We’re now in a position to show off our products and give them to the right people.” 

Key Connections

Sentry is an active member of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA). “MHEDA offers numerous opportunities to advance skills through training and participation in seminars and professional groups. We’re always trying to advance our skills,” Ryan says.

Recently, Sentry’s female associates joined MHEDA’s Women in Industry Initiative, which focuses on bringing women into the material-handling industry. 

“Some of the women in our office brought it to my attention that they would like to learn more about what’s going on in this industry,” Ryan recalls about the conversation.

Sentry’s workers thought this would be beneficial, since its industry tends to be male dominated. “We’ve gotten a lot out of that, too, with good relationships, good connections and understanding about what the needs of our customers are,” Ryan reports. 

Ryan is proud of Sentry and its success over the past 22 years. “We started off this business as part of another and we spun it off,” he recalls. “It seems like it was yesterday.”

Over those 20-plus years, “We’ve brought products to market that people believe in,” Ryan continues. “The proudest achievements we have are when we talk to customers and they tell us stories on what our products did to make their facility safer.”

He asserts that Sentry will introduce more new products, including more updates of its clients’ favorites. “We are trying to create more innovative ways to help people in the industrial and distribution marketplaces and help them to be more efficient,” he says. 

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