The Current State of the Security Industry

The Current State of the Security Industry

EDITORS NOTE: Steven C. Millwee, CPP, is president and CEO of SecurTest, Inc., a national crisis management and applicant-screening firm based in Tampa, Florida. He is author of The SecurTest System, which consists of over 220 applicant and employment questionnaires that focus on workplace violence, theft, work performance, criminal history, and current illegal drug use. He is also coauthor with labor attorney John-Edward Alley of The Threat from Within: Workplace Violence.

Millwee volunteers much of his time to industry-related activities. He is currently president of ASIS International, formerly the American Society for Industrial Security International. It is from this perspective that Millwee offers his insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the security and loss prevention industry.

EDITOR: As president of ASIS, tell us what that organization is all about and what it means to you to be president?

- Sponsors -

MILLWEE: First, let me say that being president of ASIS International is probably the most humbling experience one could go through. To have your peers in the worlds largest security organization elect you to be their president through the board of directors is an awesome opportunity that gives a volunteer leader the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy.

The second aspect of being president is that it really accentuates the absolute necessity of a leader to practice the daily art of collaboration and delegation.Within our headquarters, we have over seventy employees who are extremely well-trained, competent professionals, who know their jobs well. An effective leader doesnt have to micromanage the day-to-day process in his or her organization. He needs to tap into the talents and resources that the staff brings to the table.

Also within ASIS we have over 200 chapters around the world with 32,000 members. I have to appoint about 140 volunteer leaders to head up councils, to be regional vice presidents, to serve on the Professional Certification Board Foundation, and other areas of responsibility. By the time its all done, I have an army of about 1,200 volunteer leaders around the world who are willing and able to step up to the plate to serve their members. By utilizing that army of resources, the president has a tremendous opportunity to do those things that have the greatest impact for the security industry.

EDITOR: How would you describe the mission of ASIS?

MILLWEE: ASIS was originally founded primarily for Department of Defense security managers back in the early 1950s. The core value has continually been to provide educational resources to its members. Since September 11, we have added several additional measures to our mission. The first is to become an advocacy group before Congress and other legislative bodies as well as businesses around the world. This is to allow us to take future-focused, forward-thinking positions on issues that impact a security professional today. Thats very unusual, quite frankly, for ASIS, having primarily been an educational-oriented professional society. But thats so important in the post-9/11 world, because government and industry are looking for true experts in loss prevention, security, and every function related to those areas.

EDITOR: As you know, the readership of LossPrevention magazine is primarily the LP professional in the retail, grocery, and convenience store markets. ASIS is a very broad organization. How does ASIS serve those and other vertical segments of the industry?

MILLWEE: Within the structure of ASIS, we have over thirty councils that have particular areas of focus or expertise. For instance, we have a retail security council whose mission is to provide educational sessions for the retail loss prevention professional at our annual convention and throughout the year. There are also other disciplines, such as lodging, resort and hospitality, gaming and casinos, and a whole host of other councils.

EDITOR: Tell us a little bit about the upcoming annual convention.

MILLWEE: Our annual seminars and exhibits are September 10 13 this year in Philadelphia. It is the largest professional, educational event for security in the world today. Between exhibitors and registrants, the average attendance over the past five years is well over 15,000 and has been as high as almost 30,000. A person attending doesnt have to be a member of ASIS to take advantage of over 140 educational sessions along with other general sessions that will help that person go back to his or her constituency and begin to implement some new, innovative processes to help them in the functions of their day-to-day jobs.

The Current State of the Security Industry

EDITOR: Apart from the educational sessions, what do you find valuable in attending the annual conference?

MILLWEE: The second greatest value to me is that over the years, you develop a whole new network of resources where you can turn to help you in your job. A true professional doesnt have all the answers, but he does know where to find the answers. Whether its in ASIS or other similar organizations, one of the greatest values of being involved is that network of colleagues who give you that broad spectrum of outreach to find those solutions.

To me, personally, I get a tremendous amount from the educational seminars, because they are conducted by the best and the brightest in our profession. We have a vetting process where we narrow down some 2,000 submissions to 140 or so sessions. We look for high-caliber speakers, who have proven expertise and new and innovative ideas that will keep the security practitioner fresh.

In addition, the exhibit hall gives you an opportunity to see the latest offerings from a huge number of security manufacturers and service providers.

EDITOR: Its interesting that your annual seminar this year is in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our country, and coincides with the one-year anniversary of September 11th. Has this drawn any questions or concerns?

MILLWEE: Someone early on asked if we shouldnt move the convention to another week. Here was my reply. If ever theres a time for security practitioners and professionals from around the world to band together, its this week. On September 11th some thirty security officers, managers, and professionals were at their posts, doing their jobs at the World Trade Center. They were the true first responders to the acts of terrorism. They stood their ground and led thousands of people to safety while leading firefighters and police officers into all of the various facilities in the World Trade Center complex. It was by no accident that these security professionals shed their blood along with their brothers and sisters who wear uniforms. They did their jobs. They enacted their crisis management plans and as a result, saved thousands of lives that could have made a catastrophic event even worse. This will be a time in Philadelphia not only to pay respect to those who lost their lives, but also to bring a sense of camaraderie within our profession. We are truly the professionals charged with protection of people, places, and information around the globe.

EDITOR: When youre not being the president of ASIS, how do you occupy your time?

MILLWEE: That is probably the greatest challenge I have, because Im a basketball coach, Sunday school teacher, and chief executive officer for SecurTest,the company I founded 24 years ago. SecurTest is focused on developing biographical questionnaires to help employers screen applicants for work-related issues, such as violence in the workplace, theft, current drug use, work performance, sexual harassment, and a whole host of other bad behaviors. We have over 220 standardized questionnaires, which we also customize for our clients. In addition, I provide security consulting services, primarily in the area of workplace violence intervention or prevention.

EDITOR: What is the breadth of your client base?

MILLWEE: On the consulting side, we work with every type of industry segment, because workplace violence attacks everybody. A tremendous amount of the training is, of course, in the retail segment, because when you are dealing with customers, you not only have the internal threat of disgruntled employees, you have the external threat from robbery or other types of violent crimes crossing the threshold of your business.

Within our testing marketplace, our core clientele falls within three primary groups convenience stores and fast foods, retail, and security officers.

EDITOR: Take us back to when you first began your career and how you grew to be the CEO of your present company?

MILLWEE: Well, I started out as a farm boy in Oklahoma, driving a tractor at age six. I left it running at age 17 and ran away. I think it took my dad two weeks to realize that I had abandoned the farm. Actually, I went to the FBI as a clerk right out of high school. I was with the FBI for two years before becoming an officer with the sheriff s department in Tampa. I quickly became a detective and eventually head of the unsolved murder unit working the cold-case squad and serial murder investigations.

I had a tremendous friend in the sheriff s office, Walter Henrich, who along with my father were two significant mentors of my life. As a result of their encouragement, at the age of 25 I decided to start SecurTest. Initially, the firm was primarily an investigations and polygraph firm. But over the years, effective businesses have to find either a niche market or adapt to the trends in the marketplace, so that you can retool yourself to provide the types of service or products that customers will buy. Theres an old adage that if a customer is not willing to buy what you have to sell, perhaps youre not selling the right product. My father put it this way, Steve, you have to know where people itch in order to know where to scratch them. So, over the years weve evolved from the investigative organization to a more senior-level consulting firm and have carved out a nice niche for our products and testing services.

EDITOR: In your view, what has been the impact of September 11 on the security industry?

MILLWEE:The biggest impact Ive observed is that the highest levels of organizations, the senior executives and board of directors around the world,have a renewed focus on the security professionals job. When you talk to senior executives and ask them for their top five objectives of the year, safety and security of their employees, customers, and guests are certainly in that top five, if not number one. Those acts of terrorism that day and those ongoing acts of terrorism around the world since then, highlight one of the core needs of mankind, which is safety for ourselves and our families. Successful and effective organizations look at their employees and customers as their extended family. Providing a safe workplace has been accentuated by those acts. Executives today are now paying more attention, giving greater resources, and more opportunities for budgetary considerations to the security and loss prevention professional than, I think, has ever been seen in the history of the security industry. That requires the security professional to truly understand his or her function, and to be able to speak the language of business to maximize that opportunity.

EDITOR:What about the effect of the more recent corporate accounting scandals and breaches of ethics?

MILLWEE:One thing I see is that it has created the opportunity to have ethics and compliance reside where I think it should have always been, in the hands of the competent security professional. Most security professionals understand the need for a strict compliance to a code of ethics. The function of oversight has to start at the president, CEO, or chairman of an organization, but that person has to have a competent group of individuals to oversee how those ethical standards are going to be implemented down into the grass roots of an organization.

The Current State of the Security Industry

We have lived for the past 10 years or so in a me generation, where society was focused on individual needs. I perceive we are now coming back to the moral principles of how we should conduct ourselves individually and as a business. The security professional has the opportunity to become more aware and educated on how to develop ethical compliance and oversight accountability within their organization. By taking on this responsibility, security executives will gain even greater visibility within their organization.

EDITOR:How does anLP or security professional balance September 11 and these ethical issues with the current soft economy?

MILLWEE: Its critical to know your time, talent, and resources. Within an organization of even a modest size, you have a tremendous amount of talent. The more you know about that talent base, the more you can utilize those people, not only to achieve buy-in for what you are trying to achieve, but to use them as messengers and advocates for your program. Once you have their buy-in, you can create accountability processes among your management team so that they help hold each other accountable.

EDITOR: With the changes and opportunities evolving in our industry, what advice would you give young people about preparing themselves for a career in loss prevention or security?

MILLWEE:There are two essential answers to that. First is find yourself a mentor. Be selective in who you let mentor you. Ive had three. First was my father. My second mentor, who had a tremendous impact on my law enforcement career, was Walter Henrich. He was very patient and would take the time to explain things to me when I was a relatively immature person in a very responsible position. The third person has had a significant influence in my ASIS leadership development. His name is Raymond Humphrey, CPP. Ray was past president two years ago and a tremendous mentor, not just of me, but to dozens of others in the industry. He possesses not only the skill sets of leadership and understanding human behavior, but he has the ability to cut through the weeds and get to the strategic level.

Everybody needs mentors, whether they are coming right out of college or entering the industry as a second career. But theres a responsibility that comes with mentoring. If you are being mentored, that means you are a protge. And at some point, the protge has to take the reins and become someone elses mentor.

The Current State of the Security Industry

EDITOR: Whats the second piece of advice?

MILLWEE: The second is education, education, education. A true leader is not defined by what he or she knows. The true leader is defined by their desire to be on the continuum of educational development. Real leaders continually seek out educational opportunities to improve what they may already know, or to refresh their memory of what they’ve already learned. To learn new innovative ideas that help them grow. Thats the mark of a leader. If a person right out of college follows that track, they will go far.

EDITOR: One of the major educational offerings of ASIS is the certified protection professional (CPP) designation. How did that come about and what does it mean for a loss prevention or security professional?

MILLWEE: We have just recently added to the designation of CPP to better explain the meaning of it. We now brand it as CPP, Board Certified in Security Management. What does that mean to the average security professional? One, it demonstrates to themselves and their colleagues that they have a level of experience and proven level of competency to address the general landscape of security questions today. It demonstrates that they have devoted the time and resources to study for a very extensive and exhaustive examination. Thats very important in todays world, because there are more and more people in the marketplace who are holding themselves up as experts in security or loss prevention, but simply do not have the expertise. They are attempting to seize an opportunity because of the growth of security, and they want to jump on the bandwagon.

EDITOR: Is CPP the only certification offered by ASIS?

The Current State of the Security Industry

MILLWEE:Later this year or early next year, youll see two additional certifications that ASIS will introduce. One is a certification in physical security and the other is a certification in investigations.

EDITOR: For those who are unfamiliar with CPP, what does it take to earn this certification?

MILLWEE: You can go online to to see the exact requirements, but you have to have a certain number of years experience in the field, which can be reduced by your higher education. Once you have the minimum amount of education and/or experience, you can sit for the exam. The test consists of roughly 200 core questions on a broad range of security and legal issues.

EDITOR: Who should consider getting their CPP certification?

MILLWEE:When people ask me if they should even try for the CPP, I use myself as an example. I became a member of ASIS in 1979. I did not take the CPP test until 1995. As a CEO of a corporation, I always considered the CPP something for those practitioners who have security as part of their day-to-day job. Then in 1995, I became the chairman of the Tampa ASIS chapter and found myself standing up in front of people promoting the CPP program, and, as my dad would say, You ain’t one. That gave me the motivation to study for the test.

What I did was commit six months of my spare time to study the core subject matter. Because the CPP demonstrates that you have a broad understanding of the whole spectrum of security, there were areas I knew well and other not so well. For example, when it came to loss prevention issues, I felt very comfortable with my knowledge. With interviewing and interrogation, I had a good understanding because of my past experience teaching that subject to law enforcement. On the other hand, with physical security, I was clueless. That was not my expertise. So I had to spend more time studying physical security. But at the end of the day, I not only had a new appreciation for those colleagues who are physical security experts, but I was also able to develop a tremendous amount of knowledge and resources to help me when those issues come up. And those issues do come up in the day-to-day lives of a loss prevention professional. If it only gives you the ability to go find the answers, that alone will raise your star in the eyes of the management in your organization.

EDITOR: Would you recommend the CPP for the retail loss prevention professional?

MILLWEE: Absolutely! The loss prevention manager today really has to be a multifaceted security professional, versus just solely focused on loss prevention. An entry-level or mid-level LP professional may be mainly tasked with the day-to-day preventive aspects of implementing a loss prevention program. But certainly the upper- and senior-level professionals need to be fully versed on every aspect of security, whether it is personnel security for your employees, customers, and guests or understanding the physical security of the entire infrastructure of your organization. At least in my experience, in the boardrooms today, the senior loss prevention executive needs to not only understand the value of the apprehension side of LP, but also have a holistic understanding of securing the entire corporate organization.

EDITOR: Any last thoughts before we close?

MILLWEE:I just want to emphasize and encourage everyone to give back to their profession. Its easy for someone to sit in the bleachers and watch the game, either to be content with the way the game is being played or to argue with the officials, players, or coaches on the field. I would invite all loss prevention and security professionals to get into the game. We dont need spectators, we need players. We need people who are willing to give up their time, talents, and resources, as well as companies who are willing to support their security and loss prevention professionals in this endeavor. Get involved in helping make our industry better each and every day.

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.