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A Profile in Partnership (Protos Security)

Ten years ago the asset protection team at Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America, sat in a room with the founders of Protos Security preparing for an uncommon sales pitch. Protos was a small start-up with a vision for improving the security guard acquisition and management process, but they were still looking for their first customer. They asked the Advance team to consider the potential value of an on-call partner that could quickly place pre-qualified guards at any site around the country, proactively monitor performance, and provide a level of detailed performance insight that would make accounting both more accurate and more efficient.

The Advance Auto Parts Asset Protection team had already recognized that to successfully fulfill last-minute requests for guards at any one of their many stores, located in diverse and remote locations across the nation, was a challenging and time-consuming process. Each time the need arose, the team had to review and approve the request, find qualified guards, vet background and credentials, negotiate a contract, and schedule the shift. And, of course, these assignments had to be tracked to ensure everything went as planned and was properly invoiced.

Advance Auto Parts wanted faster placements, better quality control, more performance accountability, and better cost management. They decided to give the small start up with a passionate vision, a small subset of stores in a variety of high-risk localities to prove that their business model could meet those needs.

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As Advance Auto Parts introduced Protos to new markets, Protos was able to quickly develop the industry’s largest network of verified security guard vendors that they could then call on to negotiate competitively priced service anywhere in the country.

(Left to right) Protos Security's cofounders, Chris Copenhaver and Patrick Henderson, and Advance Auto Parts' Marc Patrouch, manager of asset solutions and analytics, and Jeff Carr, asset protection solutions engineer.
(Left to right) Protos Security’s cofounders, Chris Copenhaver and Patrick Henderson, and Advance Auto Parts’ Marc Patrouch, manager of asset solutions and analytics, and Jeff Carr, asset protection solutions engineer.

National Expansion

After watching Protos successfully manage the security needs of all of the pilot program assignments, Advance staff saw an opportunity to effectively consolidate monthly billing, performance reporting, and insurance coordination for nearly sixty locations with ten providers down to a single guard management supplier.

Advance offered Protos the opportunity to take over guard management across the entire nationwide portfolio of stores. And, by outsourcing the day-to-day management of their guard program, Advance’s in-house asset protection team was able to focus on more strategic priorities.

“Protos exceeded our expectations and gave us confidence in them as a third-party vendor,” explained Mike Cox, vice president, real estate and asset protection at Advance Auto Parts.

Relentless Innovation

From the very beginning, Protos and Advance also partnered to develop and test innovative new systems to meet the changing needs of the security industry nationwide. They developed new methodologies and proactively leveraged emerging new technologies. They deployed new techniques to improve time tracking and validate invoices. In those first few years, Protos was able to provide significant, program-wide cost savings to the Advance Auto Parts asset protection department.

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From On Call to Front Line Defense

In 2009, Advance Auto Parts invited Protos to once again expand their support. They added the management and ongoing security requirements for distribution centers to their existing contract, requiring the management of their nationwide store portfolio, which required guard support for both standing guard assignments and emergency placements.

By using a third party in this capacity in their supply chain, Protos helps Advance maintain US Customs and Border Patrol C-TPAT certification that provided significant additional corporate value and protection from distribution channel disruption.

Strategic Partners from the Start

From the beginning, Protos joined Advance security’s strategic planning meetings. They worked side-by-side with the in-house team to brainstorm and recommend outside-the-box opportunities to address challenges, increase transparency, and provide continuous value.

In one such instance, Protos addressed Advance’s need to ensure field coverage was in fact being executed as scheduled, by building a tool that would seamlessly triangulate the position of the officer’s cell phone and validate the location against the assignment protocol.

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“All of our tools and services are a result of listening to the needs of our clients to make a better program and exceed the expectations of our customers,” stated Chris Copenhaver, Protos cofounder.

Continuous Performance Improvement

Early on, Protos’ primary value was in placing emergency guards, but by focusing on measurable process improvements, automation, and transparency, they’ve built industry-leading systems and methodologies that are saving their clients significant sums and increasing accountability at worksites all across the country.

Advance’s Mike Cox, added, “They deliver certified guards and conduct their own due diligence to make sure we get the service we expect.”

Protos trains security guard vendors to Advance Auto’s standards and in its proprietary management systems. They ensure distribution security staff are trained to thoroughly inspect trailers and document those personnel entering secure areas according to US Department of Homeland Security standards.

If issues occur, Protos quickly rectifies the situation by addressing it with the security vendor. They are quick to replace guards and/or drop a vendor relationship where necessary.

“Our customers rely on us, so they can focus on other parts of the business,” said Patrick Henderson, cofounder of Protos Security. “We take our responsibility to deliver the highest quality guards on every assignment very, very, seriously.”

Measurable Business Impact

Protos Security’s innovative and transparent security solutions have created multiple layers of efficiency, reduced program costs, and dramatically improved communications for Advance Auto for more than ten years.

Protos has grown from a small start-up with just one visionary customer to an industry-leading supplier of more than 2,500 high-quality security guards nationally.

“We are truly passionate about protecting our team members and our stores,” Jeff Carr, Advance Auto Parts asset protection solutions engineer explained. “[Protos] managing security support staff and vendors has allowed me to look at the outliers to truly maximize coverage where it is needed and eliminate excess for a more fiscally responsible and solid security function.”


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