With 25 years in the security business, Anne Gruber, owner of Ashland Lock & Security Solutions, has seen Chicago grow and adapt to new technologies. She and her team are responsible for bringing cutting-edge surveillance and access control innovations to some of the city’s most coveted central locations, all while maintaining a personal connection with her clients. With an electronics division in the heart of the city, Ashland Lock continues to find newer and smarter ways to seamlessly serve customers downtown, including the recent addition of two right-sized, easy-to-handle Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Vans, specifically designed with metropolitan businesses in mind.
What distinguishes Ashland Lock & Security Solutions from other security companies in the Chicago area?
We specialize in buildings that are not pre-wired, so we go into existing buildings that were not built for all of today’s electronics and bring 21st century solutions into 19th century buildings. A lot of our competitors focus on new construction, so they go in as things are being built. We consider our intellectual property to be one of our biggest assets.
You have two Metris Vans now, with plans to purchase more in the near future. Why is it key for the company to stay mobile, and why did you choose to add the Metris to your fleet?
All of our work is provided onsite at customers’ locations, so we’re hauling cameras, access control, and electronics. If we have a big project, we can use our Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, but if we’re trying to be nimble and get in and out of a smaller project, we use the Metris Vans, which because of their size are quite easy to drive through traffic.
You are one of the very first companies to own the Metris Van and you placed your order months in advance. Why was that?
We looked at other brands, but because our electronic division is based in the city of Chicago, having a streamlined, smaller scope van really appealed to me. In the suburbs, you can get away with larger vans, but we do a lot of our work in the downtown area, and parking is never easy. The Metris is really the perfect urban vehicle: it can easily fit in a small parking space or garage and move in and out of traffic, but it still has enough cargo space that we can fit all of our hardware. The fuel economy is also a significant bonus. It’s exactly what we were looking for.
The Metris is some 30 inches shorter and 20 inches slimmer than the Sprinter but it still offers nearly 200 cubic feet of cargo space. It also offers many possibilities for customization. Have you upfitted your van yet?
We’ve added ladder racks and shelving on an entire wall on the driver’s side. On the passenger side, which has the sliding door, we have complete access to all of the tools. For stacking boxes of cameras and things like that, we still have a main bed, which is about three feet wide. We’re always looking to stay as mobile and efficient as we can.
What advice would you give to other companies thinking about adding a mobile element?
As a business owner, you have to be mindful of the cost of operation for each vehicle. What I found is that on a comparative basis, when you look at different vans and different brands, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, the cost of ownership and operation with a Mercedes-Benz Van is simply far lower.
Learn more about Ashland Lock and Security.