Safeguard continues growth with SYSTEMSgroup-Houston

Dallas home to new $1.5 million ops center
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Saturday, July 1, 2006

HOUSTON--Just two months after acquiring Citadel Security here, Safeguard Security Holdings has announced the establishment of SYSTEMSgroup-Houston, to be headed by new senior vice president David Suttles, formerly head of the Houston SST office. He's joined by former staff members John Kimbrell and David Chatfield.
The team, in addition to SYSTEMSgroups in Dallas and New York City, will soon be able to make use of a new $1.5 million security operations center, which will become operational by mid August, in Dallas. The center will focus on monitoring video over IP for Safeguard's all-commercial client base, as well as offering a backup center for clients with internal security nerve centers.
"It's just a wide-open market right now," Safeguard president R. Michael Lagow said of Houston. "They've assembled more than 40 clients already, and there are Fortune 100 companies with huge security risks that we are very rapidly cultivating."
Part of that cultivation, said Lagow, involves quarterly Lunch and Learn programs that SYSTEMSgroup holds quarterly in each of the markets in which it currently has a significant presence.
"We put on a symposium and invite other CEOs other CFOs," said Lagow. "We put them together, and put on an hour and-a-half presentation and say, 'Have you thought about this?' It's a non-interfering way, a non-judgmental way of bringing these types to the table and getting them to think about what they're doing ... We put bullets down on simple power points and they can take that back to their office and they can go back to their security directors and say, 'Are we doing this?' It puts the wheels in motion."
Lagow and Safeguard would like to be holding similar symposiums in other cities next year. "We're looking for acquisitions in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles," Lagow said. "The whole Sun Belt, really."
In a February interview, Safeguard chief executive officer Brown Glenn said it was no secret the company was looking to grow to $100 million in revenues. Well, Lagow revised that goal upward. "Our goal and our mission over the next 24 months," he said, "is grow the company upwards of $150 million in revenues. The large portion of that is going to be through acquisition." Those might be staffing or technology companies, he said, but "we're looking for technology companies that can think outside of the box, and we'll couple that with the staffing side of the business."
Safeguard, said Lagow, is unlike other staffing companies who entered integration in that Safeguard leads with technology, supporting it with well-trained professional guards who see security as a career path. He noted that he employs a fashion consultant for uniform design and frequently trains guards to design the systems they've been manning.
"It increases our retention rate by double," Lagow said. "They understand they're working for a security solutions provider, not just a guarding company."
"My feeling is that it takes intelligent staff to operate a good system," he continued. "Otherwise your money's down the drain."