When Kenyan homeowners contemplate constructing or buying houses, on their wish list is getting big, beautiful burglarproof, fireproof, bulletproof doors. Over the years, some have had to 'hide' beautiful wooden doors behind steel frames to secure their homes.
But Daniel Muhia, whose family business has been making burglar proof doors for banks, saccos, retail chains, petrol stations and a few high-end offices across the country has now found a new market. Homeowners looking for impenetrable forts are turning to the Nairobi's Industrial Area-based entrepreneur who makes security doors.
For years, Lockmanns Hydraulics has been making doors and windows by reinforcing them with steel and hardwood, then giving them a veneer finishing.
Daniel, who studied leadership and management at Strathmore University, says nowadays most Kenyans want doors that are artistic but also burglar and bulletproof without necessarily giving away this ‘truth’.
“Women buyers are also very selective on the door appearances as it is the first image a visitor gets to see. They prefer varied colours and designs,” he said.
He adds that what is fuelling the demand for the doors is the desire by Kenyans to have one room in the house which is secure enough to act as a hiding place incase of break-ins.
“Expensive homes within gated communities enjoy relatively good security but families have mooted a new fallback plan where houses have a hidden safe haven. This is an impenetrable room where precious items are kept and one can hide in incase of an attack, awaiting help from security agencies,” he says.
The doors come with a patented four-way lock that jams when tampered with making the targeted room inaccessible.
Sh75,000 to Sh500,000
A reinforced door would retail at between Sh75,000 to Sh500,000 depending on the requirements of an individual.
“These are heavy doors that come in various looks from mahogany, oak and white teak coated doors to the veneer ones that buyers can easily dismiss as normal wooden doors but they are impenetrable,” he says.
While their main competition is cheaper imports from China and Turkey, Daniel says their products are repairable.
He adds most imported doors appear good looking but they are fitted with plastic frames that are combustible and fragile.
So where can you put a security door?
“Smart doors can be installed anywhere deemed sensitive from main doors to bedrooms,” he says, adding that they are working on cheaper types that will not compromise on safety standards.
Some customers, he added, also engage them in installing bulletproof windows in their homes. A four feet by three feet window frame together with a bulletproof glass goes for Sh80,000. Larger bulletproof windows measuring six by eight feet are priced at Sh100,000.
Daniel says other Kenyan buyers come shopping for safes for keeping sensitive documents, jewellery and cash.
In some cases, they make wall safes that have security doors which can easily pass as wall paintings, wall sockets or table tops.
“They appear simple but they help meet expectations of a beautiful looking but inaccessible door,” he adds.