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Shannon’s Auto Body Revs Up Security with Help from PDK

PDK Case Study Shannon's Auto Body

Shannon’s Auto Body has served customers in Brainerd, Minnesota, for nearly 30 years, providing quality mechanical and collision repairs. To expand support for its large and loyal clientele, owner Shannon Christian recently opened a second location – a 40,000-square-foot facility that, in combination with the original building, triples the company’s footprint.

Shannon’s Auto Body

When customers leave their vehicles at Shannon’s Auto Body, they trust their car will be well-cared for. The property, vehicles, parts, and repair equipment must be protected from theft, tampering, and vandalism. Therefore, Shannon carefully considered what technology would be necessary to secure his new location. For guidance, he turned to Digital Horizons, a locally owned full-service technology integrator offering a range of commercial security solutions.

Digital Horizons recommended an integrated solution combining ProdataKey door access and Digital Watchdog video surveillance for maximum flexibility, ease of use, scalability, and features. Today, the new location has ten doors and two gates controlled by PDK, 37 DW cameras, and an integrated Honeywell Vista alarm panel.

Digital Horizons

Choosing the Right Products

Chris Schucker and Scott Johannes founded Digital Horizons in 2013 after working together at another local integrator. They’re astute businessmen, consistently growing the company by 20%-30% annually for the past decade. Clients’ needs drive all services they offer, and whenever they take on a new product line, they perform due diligence.

A few years back, they decided to start offering access control. “We did a lot of research, and PDK was, by far, the system and company that most aligned with how we wanted to deliver door access,’ says Chris.

“We wanted something that was remotely accessible, that allowed for mobile access, but was also flexible enough to accommodate any type of credential.”

Scott adds, “We looked at the mechanics of how the PDK system works, the types of installations where it is used, and even how the company markets and presents itself. Then we got our hands on it and went through training. PDK did everything we wanted. From the top down, it just worked well.”

Digital Watchdog’s DW Spectrum IPVMS system works with

PDK offers seamless integrations with many leading security and business automation solutions. Given

Chris and Scott’s assessment of what other technologies were necessary to secure Shannon’s Auto Body, they recommended Digital Watchdog’s DW Spectrum IPVMS system, powered by DW Cloud service. Like PDK, it allows users to connect from anywhere, and the integration enables more efficient and effective security monitoring through automated responses to access-related events.

“When somebody swipes a card, we can tag it in the video,”

Scott explains.

They also planned to tie the burglar security into PDK. “When an employee swipes into the building in the morning, we wanted the system to disarm automatically. The integration means we could eliminate the need to issue alarm codes to everyone,” Chris adds.

The Installation

As Shannon reviewed the plans designed by Digital Horizons, he thought, “Wow, there’s so much we can do, but do we need to do it all right away?” In collaboration with Chris and Scott, they agreed to a multi-phase deployment.

The initial system secures exterior doors only. However, during construction, Digital Horizons laid wire to accommodate interior expansion. “There are four or five rooms where I’d like to ultimately limit employee access, like the mechanical room, and we’ve created the infrastructure to make those additions as seamless as possible,” says Shannon.

PDK Red Max
PDK Red Max expanders

PDK rugged outdoor mullion readers are mounted at exterior doors and on the gates securing the vehicle lot. Each features a keypad and card reader. These connect to PDK Red Max controllers equipped with two power supplies and two four-door boards. The enclosure can accommodate expansion boards and scale up to 24 doors. “The building is fairly large, so we had to split up the wiring runs so they wouldn’t be too long,” says Chris. “The Max units provide us maximum flexibility to add doors in the future.”

The controllers connect to a PDK Cloud Node, the head-end of any PDK system, and the gateway to PDK’s cloud software platform. Controller continuity ensures the Max controllers remain fully operable in the case of a communication failure and resynchronize when a connection is restored. The entire system utilizes OSDP and encrypted credential communication.

Shannon’s Auto Body wide view


"Programming and setting up PDK is a breeze," says Scott. "You can find the controllers immediately on the network, and it takes practically no time to set up each door and configure its basic use. Programming the schedules and establishing different user groups takes a little longer, but it's also quite easy." Shannon Auto Body's PDK system has different user groups for employees and management.

The front doors and gates automatically unlock during regular business hours. Weekend and holiday schedules are also entered into the PDK system. For those workers permitted to enter during off hours, the burglar alarm automatically deactivates when they scan in at a PDK door reader.

Approximately 40 employees are currently enrolled in the PDK access control database. Shannon is responsible for issuing cards to new employees, assigning them to user groups, and deleting those who leave. "It's simple. In two minutes, I can issue a card," he says. 

Tire Crew, Paint Crew, and Repair Crew

"Most employees only have access Monday through Friday, from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but management has 24-hour access," says Shannon. "Now that we've been using the system for a while, we're looking at creating additional user groups, like for employees who should have access seven days a week, but only during specific hours. We can assign permissions to groups or individuals. I like how easy it is to make these adjustments."

car and truck

Shannon has also issued credentials to several vendors who visit the building regularly. They can enter through specific locked doors during the timeframes they require access, like early in the morning before the shop opens.

Part of the system configuration includes its integration with Digital Watchdog. Time-stamped video clips associated with each access event make it easy to search for specific incidents and identity security breaches. For example, the video will show if someone used someone else's credentials or if anybody piggybacked behind a credentialed user to gain entry.

Parking lot Gate

Managing Security

One of the key advantages of PDK's solution is its anywhere, anytime control. Shannon primarily uses PDK's mobile app to manage the system from wherever he is.

"I've had situations when we're closed on the weekend, and people want to come in. An employee wants to give a tour, or we're expecting a delivery. I can pull up cameras on my phone, and when I see those people at the door or gate, I can unlock it for them,"

Shannon explains.

Shannon receives an alert if someone swipes an invalid card or enters the wrong PIN code three times in a row. He can call up video of the event and immediately assess the situation. "If an employee has a reason they need to get in, like maybe they forgot to bring home their phone and they went back to get it, I can unlock the door. But if it's someone I don't recognize, I'll call the police."

Invalid entry notification sent from

"The cameras are doing a good job at deterring trespassers. They're quite noticeable. Anyone can tell the property is under surveillance. We've even had neighboring businesses ask us to check our cameras because of incidents they've had on their own properties; they're hoping we caught some video of the criminals."

Planning for the Future

Shannon's investment in PDK will deliver long-term value. The system's scalability makes it easy and inexpensive to add additional readers throughout the interior of the building as desired. The software's cloud-based platform always remains current. And, if Shannon decides to retrofit his original property with PDK, it and his new location can share the same user database and be managed through a single management interface. PDK is a full enterprise solution.

yellow sports car with technician

Chris and Scott express appreciation for the support they know PDK will continue to provide.

"A lot of weird stuff happens in the integration world. There are plenty of companies that make solid products, but they don't have good marketing, support, and training. PDK offers all of these. We get all sorts of information: regular emails, webinars, and instructional videos. PDK ensures we have the knowledge and tools to keep customers like Shannon satisfied. They are a true partner, which allows Digital Horizons to be the same for our customers."


Shannon’s Auto Body Case Study


Shannon’s Auto Body Video Case Study

PDK + Shannon’s Auto Body

Digital Horizons integrator video Case Study

PDK + Digital Horizons


ProdataKey is a team of security integrators with decades of hands-on, in-the-field experience.

PDK believes that the best technology is created by professionals who know what it takes

to secure a facility properly and provide the end user with a solution that instills confidence

and safety.

PDK is passionate about creating technology to enhance the security, safety, and overall

experience of both the professionals installing electronic access control and those that live

with and use the system. PDK continues to create technology every day to enhance its

products and the products of its technology partners.


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