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sadly, current events creates niche for security items

KC Star – Roxie Hamill

Doug Peavey of Leawood wishes there wasn’t a market for his products. “I’d like to be selling ice cream, but I don’t,” he said. “I sell law enforcement equipment.”

In fact, Peavey Security sells just the kind of equipment most people don’t want to think about. Tasers. Pepper guns. Door barricades for when there’s an active shooter situation.

The family business in Lenexa has been around 36 years and is well-known in law enforcement circles as a maker of crime scene equipment. It evolved from a company that makes plastic bags, but now sells investigative products worldwide, he said.

Q. How did the business go from bags to door barricades?

In his grandfather’s day, the original Lynn Peavey Co. sold plastic bags to hospital pharmacies, Doug Peavey said. By the time Doug got into it, though, the market was changing. Hospitals were beginning to get together to buy bags in large orders, cutting down on the profit margin.

So Peavey began scouting for different markets for the bags and hit on law enforcement’s need for evidence bags. That was followed by labeling tape and other products for storing evidence.

The door barricades and other products were the result of talking with law enforcement customers, he said. Sometimes police would mention a particular problem, such as keeping bad guys out of schools, and wish for a product that could help. Peavey was happy to try to work out the solution, he said.

Q. How do you come up with your ideas for products?

Peavey said he often starts by looking at an existing product and analyzing what problem it is meant to solve. Then he tries to come up with a different product that does a better job.

One example is the SureStop door barricade, which is a door strap that loops through a handle and fastens on the other side with military grade Velcro.

That is an inexpensive solution intended to make an area more secure when a shooter is in the building, he said.

“We’re just trying to come up with a simple solution to protect children or people on the inside,” he said.

That involves a lot of listening to feedback from the customers, he said, to find out what the market wants.

The company likes to manufacture its own products, but will also enter into distribution deals for other good products on the market, he said.

Q. How do you deal with the patenting process?

Peavey has patented a couple of products in the past, but generally doesn’t like to file patents because it’s so expensive to protect them, he said. Filing a patent means putting the product’s schematics on display for the world to see, he said. “You’ve got to tell all your secrets, then all anybody has got to do is change it just enough.”

There’s always someone out there to knock off your product, he said. “The best thing is to keep two or three steps in design and planning in advance for the new improved version.”

Q. Doesn’t testing and developing the product take a lot of time for a small company?

Peavey said he often gets help from the high school students in the Blue Valley School District’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies. In fact, Blue Valley CAPS students helped with the door strap, measuring the force on the doors that would be needed to break in.

Q. How do current events affect your business?

It pains Peavey a bit to say that interest in his products goes way up whenever there’s been an incident. He said his company’s aim is to help law enforcement, not to profit from fear.

“We’re not ambulance chasers,” he said, but “A few people are out there doing bad stuff.”

Q. What’s the biggest challenge in a business like yours?

“Constantly keeping up with new improvements because you’re only as good as your last product,” Peavey said. “People are always looking for something else.”