Glad to see you back here with us again as we bridge the ever changing landscape of the security industry. I think we would all agree that security officers are part of our front line workers, right?
Moving into my 3rd decade of the security world I have encountered and interacted with every level of security organizations. I’ve found it interesting how each organization has its own procedures and chain of command. More so on how easy or not easy it was to talk to individuals at the top of these companies.
So what better way to get an understanding of how different current situations are from a month ago than to talk to a CEO of a SMB ( small -medium business ) who happens to run a security company.
I met Tom Ramsey about 10 years ago while we were colleagues at a global security provider. He was just coming off a successful run as the liaison for that company to a top auto manufacturer. As that challenge had been overcome, he accepted a larger role as an area manager. He managed over 40 clients in his portfolio and had over 250 employees that staffed those sites. He has managed security for healthcare institutions, auto manufacturers, government contractors, energy plants and many more vertical markets.
So let’s get started with the questions.
Q: Tom, from the top level of a company what has changed for your daily life?
A: First let me thank you for reaching out to me. I am just one person of this company and I am certainly not the most important. Our officers who at our client sites for each shift are by far more important. But to answer your question directly, everything. Everything has changed. My morning routine, my lunch routine, how I conduct my day as a whole has changed, and frankly I don’t think it will ever be the same.
Q: Elaborate on that for us. From running a company, managing 60-70 employees, what do you mean ” everything”
A: Well for starters, I am not a person who can sit still very long. I like to be in the field with my officers and customers. I live in KY as you know and basically we have been asked to only go out if absolutely necessary. That doesn’t suit my personality at all. I have always been an “ops” guy. So I need to be at my clients sites daily so I am in tune with what is going on and what changes we need to make to better serve them. But for the past month I have been working from my home office and taking almost all of my meetings via Skype or teleconference.
Q: Does that change how you manage the company?
A: Not really… We have a culture here that is not like others that I have worked for. This is a culture of caring for your employees. A culture that asks what can I do to help you, or what’s a better way for us to serve our clients. So as far as managing our managers and hourly staff, it really hasn’t changed that much.
Q: OK, maybe what I mean is how has your approach changed since you can’t be at the site with your officers and customers.
A: Ah, I understand. I guess you could say that business is being done differently now. I haven’t physically been to some of my sites since the pandemic started. So I have a conference call every Monday morning at 8AM with my managers, office staff and HR. There wasn’t a need for that before. I saw each of them every day and we discussed any issues that needed to be addressed in a 1 on 1 type meeting. Clients now communicate via email almost exclusively. That is a 180 degree change from how I like to run the company. I believe face to face meetings are so much more meaningful.
Q: How long do you think you will have to do business this way?
A: I wish I knew… But truth is, none of us know. I truly believe that it will be some time before things get back to “normal”. But even then, what we knew as normal before won’t be the same. So I feel as if the way we do business will be changed forever. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. During this unprecedented time I have tried to highlight how much security officers are needed. How much they are on the front line of every emergency. Think about this. If you are anywhere out in public, let’s say at a bank going about your business. Someone comes in and tries to rob it. Who’s the first person you look for? Not the police right? They need time to respond. Not the manager of the bank right? They’re in the same position as you are, being held at gun point. You look for a security officer don’t you? Or let’s say you are the hospital with your child who needs some stitches or something simple. Rowdy people come into the ER where you are. Who do you look for? The doctor or the nurse isn’t trained for that are they? Police again take time to respond. You start looking for security don’t you? I think at the end of the day, people are always going to realize how much and how important security officers are. Or at least I hope they do.
Q: If there is one thing that you would like our readers to take away from our chat, what would that be?
A: That’s the easiest question you have asked. “Be kind to everyone”. I get Google alerts each day telling me a story about how someone has spit, hit, ran over or some other atrocity has happened to a security officer somewhere. Listen, I know these are scary times, I know that people are jobless, people are trying to figure out how to pay their mortgage, buy groceries and these are all terrifying things. Especially if you don’t know when it ends. And that causes us to have emotional responses to situations that we wouldn’t normally be emotional about. Trust me, I know what it feels like. Not only do I have 70 employees and their families to worry about, I have my own as well. So, just be kind, no matter how bad it seems, treat others as you would want to be treated in these scary times.