A visit to Guardian Protection Services in Warrendale, facts and photos

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06/15/2010

I’m here in Pittsburgh. The ESX show starts tomorrow, but for me and 80 other guests, the show kicked off tonight with a tour of Guardian Protection Services the super-regional in Warrendale, Pa, which is a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Pittsburgh, where this convention is taking place.

I rode the bus with Provident Security’s Mike Jagger and Jane Swingelhurst, who’d just flown in from Vancouver.

Jane Swinglehurst and Mike Jagger

Jane Swinglehurst and Mike Jagger

Guardian Protection’s headquarters is about four years old. Here’s a story I wrote about it at the time; and now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you it’s every bit as impressive as it sounds.

About 500 of Guardian’s 1000 employees work here in Warrendale, (I had Cranberry, Pa. as the dateline in that story. For the record, the HQ is near, but not in Cranberry.)

Guardian also has 17 branch offices and about three dozen dealers.

Russ Cersosimo is CEO of Guardian. He’s in the photo below with his brother Larry Cersosimo. Russ started Guardian 36 years ago. He and Larry had trained as welders after high school and worked in the trade for a while. Russ was in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t do welding, so he was looking around at some other business opportunities. He thought security looked like a good idea, but he didn’t have any capital to invest. “I’d blown all my money, but Larry had some savings–we started this company with all of Larry’s savings,” he said. (It was something in the neighborhood of $3,500.)

It wasn’t the first time Russ had talked Larry into forking over some cash for his business ideas. When they were kids they sold newspapers, among other things.

“If there was something to sell, Russ was always the top sales guy,” Larry said. Their childhood ventures were profitable, and Guardian’s certainly done OK.

“It was a good investment,” Larry said.

Russ Cersosimo (l) and Larry Cersosimo

Russ Cersosimo (l) and Larry Cersosimo

Four buses of guests arrived at Guardian’s HQ at 5 p.m. We had some wonderful appetizers and drinks and then were split up into 8 groups for tours. There were 20 stops on each tour and I have a notebook full of notes, but here are some quick highlights.

Some shots from before the tour:

Kirk McDowell of UTCFS (right) at the reception

Kirk McDowell of UTCFS (right) at the reception

Mike Overby of Guardian (l), Mark Fell and Adrian Sedlin of Occenture

Mike Overby of Guardian (l), Mark Fell and Adrian Sedlin of Occenture

Michael Tudor (l) and Glenn Albers of Central Security Group, and Videofied's Keith Jentoft on the right

Glenn Albers(l) and Michael Tudor of Central Security Group, and Videofied's Keith Jentoft on the right

Dana Cooper, (l) Guardian director of training, Russ Cersosimo

Dana Sowa, (l) Guardian director of training, Russ Cersosimo

Debbie Goldie,who runs customer service has 150 reps. they process more than 6 million calls each year and the average time a caller waits to have their call answered is 9 seconds. Customer service reps undergo eight weeks of formal training.

Debbie Goldie

Debbie Goldie

Training at Guardian is vendor-agnostic and comprehensive, said our tour guide Jay Stuck. Below is a wall of about 40 panels that are used for training and troubleshooting. Tom Ferris told me those were panels going back “at least 20 years.” The service department has 122 people who are divided up into three groups: technical support, dispatch and field technicians.

Guardian’s invested in a variety of technology to save this department time and that’s resulted in a big decrease in call volume. The technology that’s had the biggest impact in decreasing calls in giving each of the field technicians their own laptop and wireless card, Ferris said.

Jay Stuck in front of the panel array

Jay Stuck in front of the panel array

People on my tour liked this: it’s a big giant storage room, but take note of the red lockers in the rear of the room.

See the red lockers in the back?

See the red lockers in the back?

Stuck told us this department is focused on “time, materials and logistics.” Each of those lockers belongs to a service technician. At night they’re filled with the supplies that technician needs for the next day. The lockers are two-sided, so techs can come in at any time in the morning, before the stockroom is open, and retrieve the supplies for that day.

The other side of the locker is close the service tech entrance. Simple, smart design.

the other side of the lockers, near the service tech entrance

the other side of the lockers, near the service tech entrance

Guardian’s got a nice gym set up.

Guardian's gym

Guardian's gym

Jay gives a demo

jaygym

Vinnie Cersosimo shows off a sleek demo room used by the Home Technologies division. There’s a room just like this in each of Guardian’s 17 branch offices. It’s builder partners bring customers in to choose their home-theater components and other goodies.

Vinnie Cersosimo

Vinnie Cersosimo

Guardian’s got three generators–two backing up their central station and one for the other operations. “We’ve got enough wattage to power the city of Cleveland,” Stuck said.

Jay in front of one of three giant generators

Jay in front of one of three giant generators

Guardian’s central station is UL listed, FM approved and Five Diamond certified. You access the central station via a conference room. One wall is white, but with a push of a button they wall becomes opaque and you can see the multi-level central station and data center beyond.

view of central station from conference room

view of central station from conference room

The door slides open and you feel like you’re in a movie, but it’s Guardian’s central station, which monitors 220,000 sites and is capable of monitoring up to 800,000 sites. It’s got 47 fulltime employees and there are plans on the drawing board, Stuck told us, due to anticipated growth to add a second central.

Some views of the very cool central.

sleek design and cool lighting in Guardian's central

sleek design and cool lighting in Guardian's central

three screens in the central keep everyone informed

three screens in the central keep everyone informed