If there ever has been two complimentary instincts in humans, they are to acquire, then to protect the acquisition. Safes have been in existence for as long as people had products they felt needed protection. And, as the high-end acquired assets as the world was becoming more unstable, the luxury safe business grew. Today, it is booming.
One of the major manufacturers of luxury safes is Brown Safes, whose headquarters are in Vista, California, near San Diego. This company has created many unique safes, used now by the ultra high net worth demographic, celebrities, financiers, and those in government. One of the more unusual safes Brown created is the custom Lamborghini Vault, designed especially for the client to store his valuables, along, surely, with his car keys.
In addition to custom safes, they also design and build luxury estate safes, jewelry safes, commercial safes, and most recently, introduced the new Chronos STF and STK series of watch safes. They are the only safes created from military-grade ballistic armor, four way titanium locking bolts, a locking bolt anti-drive, active and passive re-locking, interlocking anti-pry door, alarm system integration and a GPS alert system.
This Chronos series was created to be the most impenetrable watch safe ever made, and it comes with an automatic watch winder panel, so the owner’s watch collection will keep time perfectly. In addition, should anyone ever want to steal it—which would be a feat in itself as the Chronos weigh over 1,700 pounds—the thieves would have to deal with a panic button, glass plate re-lockers, redundant time-locks that will keep the safe inoperable for a time, and a biometric fingerprint reading entry keypad.
There is also The Man Safe series of luxury safes, designed and created specifically for men. They also are manufactured for the watch and jewelry collector, and are available in three standard sizes. Orbita watch winders keep the timepieces organized and running perfectly, while access is allowed through an electronic keypad.
Brown Safe is a family business, founded by Frederick Brown in 1980. I recently spoke to Lynel Brown Berryhill, Vice President of the company, about the success of the business, especially in a downturned economy.
JustLuxe: I wrote an article not long ago that included a statistic derived from a Swiss bank conglomerate, saying that for the first time ever in 2012, Swiss banks were running out of safety deposit boxes, and high net worth people were looking elsewhere to store their valuables. Could you comment on this, including some sales stats from Brown Safes for this year? How have sales been for you, in contrast to other years?
Lynel Brown Berryhill: Our clients throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S., and the Middle East have noted deposit box shortages. We believe this rise in the use of personal safes and deposit boxes largely reflects the overall distrust towards most major banking systems. The sale of our residential luxury safes has steadily climbed in time with the onset of the recession. This is in no small part due to our clients' desire to stockpile a substantial percentage of their portfolios close at hand.
JL: What is the process of buying a safe? I read you deliver them personally. Does this include setting up the safe, if it is a tall safe? What is the price range of your safes, from the least to the most expensive, and what would be the delivery costs be, in general? Do you ship internationally?
LBB: Our luxury safe purchases are pretty straightforward. While some purchases are made directly through or online store, typically a client will call with a specific set of needs. Our sales liaison can usually design and order a safe that satisfies those needs during the same phone conversation.
We utilize a global network of trusted white glove safe installers for the majority of installations. This generally includes oversize and extra tall custom sizes. For a few special build custom safes along with our premium safes, we always send our top installer and equipment to the home to handle the installation directly. Our luxury safes start off at 2k and tend to top out in the 140k range.
We definitely ship internationally. We ship through a variety of carriers at bulk pricing. These pricing rates pass directly through to our clients resulting in substantial savings on shipping.
JL: I would imagine the motivation for buying a luxury safe would be, basically, allaying fear of theft, but I would also think that the buyer feels more secure and safe knowing his or her valuables are out of harms way. Have you had testimonials about this? Can you share a few?
LBB: While housing one's valued and treasured belongings in a high security luxury safe definitely does buy peace of mind, the majority of high praise we receive comes from the peace of mind gained from the added convenience and organization our safes provide. Weekly, we receive comments from happy clients who are amazed by the well-being that comes from having everything nicely organized and easily accessible within one highly convenient location.
JL: On this same track, do you know if your buyers buy a safe after they have had an incidence of theft, or are they just aware that the world is becoming a more unsettled place?
LBB: For the majority of our clients, having a safe in each home is a simple fact of life, no more unusual than owning a microwave. The security is a given. In most cases their focus is aimed at their needs for organization and convenience. Our safes aid greatly in bringing additional order to their often frenetic lives. We sell primarily to those who have already learned this simple truth or who have learned this from others they hold in high esteem. In this regard, our focus is aimed at satisfying the needs of our clients rather than selling them on the security benefits our safes offer.
JL: In 2012, what are your most popular safes?
LBB: The Gem line of safes has always been our top selling luxury line. They’re highly configurable, offering great looks with maximum convenience at a very rational price point.
JL: Finally, what did the founder of Brown Safes, Frederick Brown, see as a need back 35 years ago in the high-end safe world, that was not being fulfilled and how did he fulfill it with the creation of his line of safes?
LBB: Frederick is a military minded man who saw a need for a high security safe that offered premium quality and engineering at a level that was currently not available. All else followed, including his decision to expand his military grade product line into the luxury arena. The Brown family's dedication to functionality, customer care, and longevity was a natural match for the luxury world. Today, while there are other players in the luxury safe market, none are built to the security standards of a Brown, and it’s doubtful any ever will be.
JL: I have written quite a lot about the deeper root systems of luxury products in 2012. Two of their dimensions are legacy and a more nebulous one, worth. How do Brown Safes encompass those two dimensions?
LBB: A great observation about luxury products. Our design theology tightly embraces these two dimensions. Much like the contents often housed within our safes, Brown Safes are built to outlast their owner, to be passed on to the next generation, and the generations after. “Build it for your children’s children...and teach them the same.” This was the advice given to Frederick by his father when he started safe building.
As for worth, the level of protection our safes provide makes solid financial sense when considering the value of the contents they protect; but the true worth of a Brown Safe is impossible to gauge as the personal value assigned to the contents within are priceless. We understand this, which is why we place such a high value on the products we build.
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