A Baltimore division of the Westinghouse Electric Corp. said yesterday it had signed an agreement to purchase Schlage Electronics, a producer of high-technology security systems used by the White House, airlines and others.
The locally based Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group said it had agreed to purchase the commercial-security systems division of Ingersoll-Rand Co.. The price was not disclosed.
Schlage, which was founded by employees of the company that makes Schlage-brand locks, makes a security system that limits entry to doorways to people carrying a special card that is thicker than a credit card and can be read by radio receivers.
In contrast to the magnetic cards that are now used to determine a person's access to everything from bank cash machines to parking garages, Schlage's cards don't need to be run through a special reading machine, said Ric Campbell, manager of Westinghouse's security-system division.
A person carrying one of Schlage's cards can walk through one of the company's entryways with the card in his wallet, he said.
Mr. Campbell said the Schlage purchase would complement Westinghouse's growing burglar-alarm business.
Westinghouse has about 15 percent of the home-security-system market, Mr. Campbell said, and sells its wireless alarm systems in 28 states. Maryland is not among them.
The company plans to expand distribution of its consumer security systems nationwide, he said.
But Schlage will give Westinghouse its first foothold in the commercial security-system business, he said.
Though he would not divulge Westinghouse's or Schlage's revenues, Mr. Campbell said the acquisition of the 300-employee company based in Santa Clara, Calif., is "important" to the $3 billion Westinghouse division.
The parent company, based in Pittsburgh, had sales of $12.5 billion last year.
Stuart Knott, who founded Schlage Electronics, said he had asked Ingersoll-Rand, which purchased all of Schlage in 1974, to sell his division to a company interested in security systems.
"This was something we have been trying to get them to look at for five years," Mr. Knott said in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon.
"The industry is beginning to mature, and larger and larger players were coming into it," so Schlage managers felt they needed to ally themselves with a large electronics company to survive, Mr. Knott said.
Because Ingersoll-Rand is keeping the rest of the Schlage lock business, the security company will phaseout its use of the Schlage nameover the next 18 months, Mr. Knott said.
Westinghouse said the acquisition was awaiting federal antitrust review.