Saturday, July 13, 2024

FIRST WITH SECURITY NEWS

More armoured vehicles on SA roads

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The rise in kidnap-for-ransom cases has led to an increase in the number of armoured vehicles on South African roads. At any given time, the businessman in a luxury car, the mother with children in an SUV or the high-profile dignitary next to you in traffic could be in a discreet armoured vehicle.

Armormax, one of the country’s top-rated armouring companies approved as OEM partners to leading car brands, said there are “most definitely” more armoured cars on South African roads than a year ago.

Armormax sales and marketing manager, Michael Broom said the number has exponentially increased over the last few years.

“The obvious contributing factor is that our roads remain some of the most dangerous in the world in terms of violent crime. Historically, high-profile attacks have always been committed in the form of vehicular assaults simply because while driving we are constantly moving between transitory spaces.”

“In terms of protection and security, these situations are difficult to manage with regular security protocols whereas an armoured vehicle puts an impenetrable barrier between occupants and assailants. The massive increase in kidnapping has also contributed to this for much the same reason- this is when we are most at risk while moving between destinations and areas that are easier to secure against threats.

“The reason we are experiencing the growth that we have is because the awareness of civilian armoured vehicles is far more widespread than it was previously. The myth that these vehicles are only for politicians and gangsters has long been debunked. South Africans that have the means have realised that we are all at risk of the threat of hijacking, smash and grabs, kidnappings and in extreme cases, assassinations,” he explained.

“The rise in kidnapping cases is alarming and causing businesses and communities to sit up and take notice. This has become one of the leading sources of enquiries and purchases in recent years.”

Michael Broom

At any one time, Armormax builds around 25 vehicles.

“We can build more than this but we have found this to be the happy medium to keep our quality standard over a realistic production time frame. Our waiting period for a production date is on average three to four months,” said Broom.

Often, a client approaches Armormax for protection following a traumatic incident such as a hijacking or kidnapping.

“So often we all think ‘it will never happen to me, I am not a target’ but when something does happen, we quickly realise that the threat is not about targeting but most often about opportunism. Criminals do not discriminate on who their victims are, neither do they care for your life as is evident in our crime stats.” 

“We also do have many clients where their risk profile requires an armoured vehicle as part of a larger security protocol, or they are already highly safety conscious in all areas of their lives and are mitigating every risk they can. These most often are entrepreneurs, expats on a working contract in South Africa or those in an industry that carries a high level of threat such as precious metals, moving of valuable assets and so forth,” said Broom.

“In a nutshell, our clients are private citizens, male and female, who want protection on our roads.”

Michael Broom

As the armoured vehicle industry is growing, so are technological advances.

“The technology has always been available globally and the advances in lightweight armouring technology have been the greatest area of focus for the last two decades. While manufacturers’ vehicles are seemingly becoming heavier and heavier, the need to drive down the weight of our solution is a critical issue for us, while most importantly, ensuring that ballistic integrity and protection are the best available,” said Broom. 

However, as in any segment experiencing growth new market entrants are bound to appear looking to take advantage of the opportunities, he added.

“Often the drive for these entrants is to do it cheaper and faster, hoping to get an edge on the market, but in reality if you are doing it properly the words cheaper and faster should not be in the vocabulary. We are dealing with the subject of saving lives and in our world, there is no space for corner-cutting or compromise. To give an analogy, if you needed a triple bypass operation you would go to the best cardiac surgeon you can find, and not your vet. In theory, both of them are able to do the procedure but which would you prefer?”  

Armormax’s attitude sets it apart from others in the industry.

“Yes, we have been around substantially longer than most but if we had the wrong attitude, our business would not have already been thriving before the massive segment growth. The attitude simply put is we do it the best or we don’t do it. That attitude applies to the components and materials we use- we use only the best of what is available globally which does come at a price.”

“The attitude also applies to our standard of armouring. In all cases, we over-spec our armour to protect our clients against real-world threats, not just the bare minimum standard of the testing lab or ballistic grade guidelines. We are actively invested in ballistics and keep our finger on the pulse of how attacks are carried out in relation to weapons, ammunition, modus operandi and results.”

“We often say we don’t have customers, we just have a really big family!  The fact that more than 70% of the work we do every year is for existing customers or referred customers is a testament to this.”

Michael Broom

“What we learn here is applied to our armouring to combat an ever-evolving threat.  This attitude most importantly applies to how we treat our clients, particularly after the vehicle has been armoured. Most of our time and effort spent with clients is ‘after the sale’ where we are available to them 24/7 for repairs, maintenance and advice on their general safety.” 

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