Making an Entrance – and Making It More Secure

Avant-Garde
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

From the standard run-of-the-mill turnstile to highly aesthetic yet functional advanced entrance systems that serve as the centerpiece of corporate lobbies, Avant-Garde’s offering is unparalleled in the market.

Avant-Garde is an entrance system technology specialist that has made a niche for itself by ensuring that its customers’ facilities, and the people in them, are safe and secure. Regardless of the facility or the need, Avant-Garde has a solution.

With roots in the audio-visual and technology space, Avant-Garde has specialized in security since 2015 when it shifted its focus to entrance systems, a market sector that was in dire need of the attention of an expert. Since that time, this specialization has been the catalyst for the company’s growth and international recognition as a leading security partner.

“We focus on entrance systems, and that’s all we do. We’re exceptionally good at it and that repetition and that focus is what makes the experience for the customer so great. That’s the key,” says CEO Eric Mager.

Entrance systems come in many forms including full-height turnstiles, optical turnstiles, perimeter security with fencing and guard buildings, vehicle gates, and more, and protect countless facilities around the world. While Mager notes that Avant-Garde didn’t invent turnstiles, the company brought a level of specialization on the contracting side that didn’t exist before.

“There were plenty of manufacturers who manufactured entrance systems hardware, but there wasn’t a provider who sold, installed, serviced, and supported entrance systems technologies that just did entrance systems,” he explains.

With a presence in higher education, corporate offices, mining, manufacturing, logistics, military, healthcare, and construction, where there is a need for perimeter security and secure entrance systems, Avant-Garde is there.

As Mager explains, “Any large business has a need for what we do. If they have a lot of people coming on and off site, they need to control that access in a safe and easy way. Those are the folks that need us. We put in entrance systems and secure everything from dirty dusty mine shafts to beautiful corporate lobbies that are the centerpiece of a corporate environment. We do all of those things, and we find ourselves in all of those places.”

Mager has found himself installing turnstiles everywhere from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to pipelines in the Canadian tundra and most places in between. “The solutions might look different, but we’re making sure that the right people are getting in and the wrong people aren’t, and that the right people can use that facility safely, quickly, and conveniently. At the end of the day, that’s our core mission.”

Through this specialization, Avant-Garde has developed a standard of quality and care that is unmatched in the global market and made possible by the team of professionals that’s been curated by the company.

“The secret in the sauce is the technicians themselves,” says Mager. “They are the tip of the spear, the guys that are out there touching the hardware every single day. Those guys are the best turnstile and entrance system technicians in the world. They allow us to deliver our customers a consistent experience every single time.”

While Avant-Garde specializes in entrance systems and related security services, behind the scenes it is so much more: it is a complex logistical operation that is incredibly effective at moving people and materials to and from projects worldwide.

As Mager says, “Moving our teams and resources around North America and the world to put the equipment and the people where they need to be when they need to be is quite an undertaking. We have to have tremendous project management and logistical apparatus in place to achieve that. What we do every week at Avant-Garde to make that happen is a marvel from a logistical perspective.”

From planes and trains to automobiles and ships, Avant-Garde’s dedication to providing its customers with flawless security includes taking an unconventional approach to recruiting. “When we recruit people, there are two things we do a little differently from most other companies: first, we look for people who are undervalued and underappreciated in their current roles and have not been allowed to show what they can really be,” says Mager.

The second, he explains, relates to recruiting based on personality attributes, value bases, attitude, and the ability to speak truth to power, all of which rank higher in importance to this select group than how a person’s résumé reads. This is how an exceptional team is curated.

Part of speaking truth to power is the open culture of communication integrated into Avant-Garde’s operations. Together with the conscious exclusion of a middle management level, Mager believes that the top and bottom of the organization are connected in a seamless way that promotes communication and collaboration.

Acknowledging that this approach is the inverse of that taken by most companies, particularly major corporations which function through a hierarchy, Avant-Garde does things differently for a good reason: it works.

Mager believes this has “allowed a high degree of communication that’s helped us be successful and has defined our culture. I encourage every single person who works at Avant-Garde to speak up, to challenge the status quo. I encourage them to think critically—not just follow a process blindly but question everything. That is our culture.”

This sentiment is shared by Director of Marketing, Kassi Karr, who notes, “When you work for a conglomerate, you’re just another person at a desk. You are replaceable and you are treated as such. Your opinion isn’t valued. Anything you say is just, ‘We’ll run it up the chain,’ whereas here, you have access to that chain and the people who do make the decisions.”

By securing its customers’ facilities as well as it does its own and reinforcing this commitment through its culture, Avant-Garde continues to operate in the best interests of the people who work, play, and reside within.

As Mager explains, “People have to feel safe. You can’t flourish if you don’t feel safe; that’s Humanity 101. So we’re turning screws every day and our job may not seem particularly exciting when you think about walking through entrance system technologies, but the truth is it’s very profound in the implications of what it does for people.”

Acknowledging that the world isn’t necessarily getting any safer, the goal for Mager and Avant-Garde is to maintain the company’s forward trajectory. “How do we make the places that we live in or the places where we learn or work safe and convenient? That’s what we’re trying to do every single day and we’re doing it with a relentless pursuit of out-of-the-box thinking and also getting it perfect.”

This out-of-the-box thinking has enabled the development of unique and exclusive product, like the new Pegasus series which is designed to secure sites during construction with portable, temporary support. “These turnstiles can be quickly and easily deployed by a general contractor to make a site safe and make it compliant for safety and all sorts of other regulatory requirements,” Mager explains.

With new safety concerns arising all the time, Avant-Garde is seeing growth in construction, data centers, and manufacturing, and as demand grows, the company continues to invest in its capabilities, its products, and its people to make facilities secure and the world safer—exactly what the market needed in 2015 and what it continues to need today.

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