The economic difficulties which presently trouble the Caribbean economies are well-known, but this economic strife is yet to fully roll-back the gains made during the boom years of the decade before. Sensible economic policy and foreign direct investment to the tune of billions of dollars led to exponential double-digit GDP growth across the islands. Many millions were lifted out of poverty during this boom, and yet millions more remain destitute to this day. Such poverty is fertile soil for breeding violent crime, which, when combined with the absence of an effective police deterrent, has led to murder rates which rank amongst the world’s highest.
To fill the security vacuum which would otherwise exist in absence of a well-resourced and well-equipped police force, private security agencies like Amalgamated Security Services Ltd. (ASSL) are called upon to provide the services that the embattled police forces of the countries it serves cannot.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STANDARDS AND 30-YEARS OF SUCCESS
With its corporate headquarters based close to Port of Spain, ASSL provides protection to clients in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, Grenada and St. Lucia, making it one of the largest and best-equipped private security forces operating in the area today. Over its three decades of operations since the company opened its doors for business in 1983, ASSL has grown to become a regional big-hitter with international-standard credentials. Its resume speaks for itself.
ASSL’s portfolio of services to the government agencies, financial institutions, corporate players, retailers and industrial businesses it serves is extensive. Aside from providing bread-and-butter guard, patrol, armoured transportation, correctional services, and private policing functions, the company is an authority in forensics, security and risk management consultancy, private investigation, and provision of training.
In the opinion of Michael Aboud, Chairman of Amalgamated Security Services, “there is no aspect of policing the private sector cannot handle. As much as they want to open the door, we will come in.”
AN EXTENSIVE PORTFOLIO OF SECURITY SERVICESA 3,000-STRONG PRESENCE
This extensive portfolio of services, and the demand for them, makes doing business in the security sector a numbers game – if you’re a big player like Amalgamated Security, you effectively need a small army of well-trained staff to get the job done. Size and presence is strength, and in this respect ASSL isn’t found wanting. Amalgamated Security’s 3,000-strong security force, which is backed-up by a large of fleet of armoured vehicles and the latest crime fighting lethal and non-lethal weaponry, offers a high-visibility security presence which acts as a shield for the clients it serves, and a muscular, imposing adversary for those with criminal intent.
However, in the digital era private security is no longer simply a game of protecting executives from armed gangs and hoodlums. Criminals are more capable, and their crimes more sophisticated and audacious than ever before – it’s not lost on the smarter element of the criminal fraternity that it is now easier to rob, steal and plunder with a keyboard than a gun.
Today, ASSL’s electronic and information security services are, alongside its highly regarded intelligence teams, as much in-demand as its traditional human and asset protection personnel. If the many reports of multi-million dollar online thefts and scams in recent years has taught us anything, it’s that hacking, loss or theft of intellectual property and sensitive information can cost business dearly. ASSL isn’t considered one of the region’s private security industry leaders for nothing, however. In IT security, as with other areas of the business, the company is a specialist.
ASSL’S STAFF: THE COMPANY’S EYES AND EARS, AND THE KEY TO ITS ONGOING SUCCESS
Of course, as Robert Baur, Group Marketing Manager of Amalgamated Security Services, acknowledges, the company’s success wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the staff. ASSL’s emphasis on putting staff first – giving employees the rewards, incentives, equipment, training and promotion opportunities to do their job well, do it safely, and move forward – is hardwired into the business. If any evidence is needed, look no further than the fact that both the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Security Officer started their careers as entry-level security guards.
Baur said: “Some of the benefits that our employees receive include life insurance, health plans, training and retraining, professional development opportunities, paid vacation and even comprehensive medical, visual and dental treatment packages.
In return our employees provide us with expertise, reliability, diligence and competence. We are happy to be a top employer because our employees are worth it.”
To ensure that employees are prepared for the task at hand, ASSL has spared no expense and invested in their own training academy – before becoming an officer with the company, it is mandatory that staff first prove themselves here. In a profession where staff potentially face serious threats and danger, Baur feels this is essential.
“This way we ensure that our officers are well-prepared to protect themselves and, by extension, our clients.” Not that ASSL has any reason to be concerned in this respect the company employs the highest number of ASIS Certified Protection Professionals (CPP) worldwide. “We spearhead the standard with CPP,” Robert continued, “and this simply means that our employees are the best of their profession.”
KEEPING OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN DECISION MAKERS AND THE SECURITY PERSONNEL ON THE STREET
In order to avoid what is perhaps one of the greatest problems in business for senior executives and management in any industry, poor communication and detachment from what’s happening on the ground, ASSL has sought to bridge the gap between the company’s decision makers and the security personnel on the street.
Robert himself is an advocate of this policy of openness and communication, and frequently liaises with long-standing employees of the company, some of whom have 20-years on the job experience or more. By taking time to find out openly and honestly the concerns and issues facing his staff, ASSL is better able to get valuable feedback on how it can improve. In Robert’s words, staff “are the eyes and ears into the industry, the hands on people, and the best way to know how the industry is doing”.
ADAPTABILITY: THE KEY TO STAYING AHEAD OF CRIMINALS AND THE COMPETITION
There is one final piece of the jigsaw – on top of the manpower, the vehicles and the hardware, however – which Robert Baur believes is the key to ASSL’s success: the is culture of adaptability and constant development which filters through the company, an ongoing drive to stay ahead of the curve.
“Constant development is the only way to keep up to date with the needs of the market,” Robert said. “We have to continue updating ourselves to assure the protection of our client’s operations and assets.” This emphasis on constantly developing, constantly improving manifests itself in all areas of Amalgamated Security’s day-to-day operations and procedures.
Take the company’s recent TRACE certification, for example. Corruption is endemic in developing nations, and Trinidad is no exception. In a country which languishes close to the foot of the Corruption Perception Index scale, Amalgamated Security Service’s TRACE certification is telling. In the words of Baur, TRACE accreditation “signifies ASSL’s commitment to transparency in international commercial transactions and, in particular, the firm’s compliance with international anti-bribery standards.”
PROFESSIONALISM BEYOND REPROACH
The private security sector, like any other, has its rogue element – discerning international clients who are seeking security services can take one look at Amalgamated Security’s TRACE accreditation and be rest assured that they will be safe in the hands of a company whose professionalism is beyond reproach.
Over the coming year, Amalgamated Security will undoubtedly continue to be present but not oppressive. Ahead of the curve, and driven to do what it takes to stay one ahead of the array of threats which threaten its clients, staff and business.
“We’ll never stop finding new ways to protect our clients,” Baur told us, upon conclusion of the interview – as previous clients of ASSL would no doubt agree, we’ll take him at his word.