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Q&A with Dwayne Gulsby, president of Securitas Canada

Dwayne Gulsby became President of Securitas Canada in January 2009. He came to the job from the U.S. where he has worked for Securitas for the last 15 years. He received his honourable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1994.


October 7, 2009
By Jennifer Brown

Canadian Security: What interested you in leaving the U.S. to take on this role with Securitas Canada?

Gulsby: I’ve been very fortunate in my career at Securitas to work with
a number of the team members here in Canada and over the years I
developed an admiration and respect for what they were doing here. I
saw this opportunity from a professional standpoint in that it gave me
an opportunity to become part of a team that I had a lot of respect for
and to lead them into the future in a direction that will deliver the
results that are being looked for from the company.


CS:
What was your position in the U.S. prior to coming here to Toronto?

Gulsby: My previous role was vice-president of sales in the
mid-Atlantic region, as well as business development manager and
operations manager in the Virginia area.

CS: Before joining Securitas you were in the U.S. Marine Corp. What’s
interesting is that G4S Canada also has a relatively new president and
CEO and you started at roughly the same time. Jean Paul Taillon came
from a telecommunications/business background and you came from a
military background. What do you think is more appropriate for leading
a guard force operation?

Gulsby: I think both backgrounds bring value to the organizations they
serve. Over time you develop strengths in the areas you need
development in and ultimately when you get up to a certain level with
an organization you get well-rounded enough, whether it’s having a
military or formal financial business background you round yourself out
to being a better total package.

CS: What are your goals for Securitas Canada? Do you plan to change course at all?

Gulsby: We want to really focus on service delivery for our guard
service and work on strengthening that position and becoming best in
class within our industry from a guard service standpoint.

CS: Robert Pretto is president of the mobile operations division and
you are president of the guarding division. Can you explain the current
management structure and how the different divisions are handled?

Gulsby: In Canada we’re broken into two divisions — our guarding
division, which I oversee, and our mobile division which Robert Pretto
oversees and that’s more in line with the North American organization.
Under my direct responsibility we have seven area vice-presidents who
are placed geographically throughout the country. Under the area
vice-presidents we have about 40 branch managers that deliver the local
service to our customers and we’re strategically placed so it provides
a very strong and robust footprint throughout the country for our
customer base. Although we are a very large organization from a global
standpoint, the investment we always try and make back into the
organization is at the local branch manager level to make sure we are
close to our customers and close to our employees. We always remember
that this is a local service. We’re only as good as our local managers
are.

CS: Competitors seem to be pushing hard on providing integrated
security systems. Is Securitas pushing in that direction or is your
focus still primarily on providing the guard service?

Gulsby: We do bring some industry-leading technologies to the table for
our customers, such as mobile remote surveillance, but our focus is on
guarding, unlike some other organizations in the industry that have an
electronic side or armoured car division, we are focused on becoming
the best we can at one discipline and that is guarding.

CS: What’s your impression of the changes made to the private security
guard legislation in Ontario and other provinces with respect to
regulation of guards and private investigators?

Gulsby: I’ve had a chance to start to absorb most of it and I applaud
the provincial government for taking the step that it did. I think it
is something that is needed for our industry in helping to
professionalize the industry and that is definitely a focus for me
right now — taking our industry forward into a more professional light.

We’ve been fortunate to be able to work with the Ministry in the area
of the testing and turnaround time on the licensing. Outside of the
training itself that we can prepare for and provide, it’s the
turnaround on the provision of the licences that can have the direct
impact on our ability to service our customers and we’ve been working
with the Ministry on that issue.




CS:
How are you handling the issue of making sure your guards are all properly licensed and up-to-date?

Gulsby: It all goes back to working with the Ministry and how it can be
administered from their end. From a database standpoint we will be able
to go in and cross-reference our employees to verify expiration dates
and follow up with the officers to make sure they are updating and
renewing their licences. There are still a lot of questions related to
licencing, but I’m confident that in taking the bold steps that they
have in introducing this type of training they are fully prepared to
support that decision and all the logistics that go along with it and
so far all of our interactions with the Ministry have been quite
positive.

CS: What is your strategy to manage the additional cost of providing the required training to your guards?

Gulsby: Anything that affects our costs has to be passed on to the
customer but we can work with customers in being creative on how it’s
passed on and using a customer-by-customer approach to try and share or
pass on the additional costs. At the end of the day, the customer will
have a better trained officer. When you start getting into the smaller
branches where they don’t have a large staff to do that 40-hour
classroom training and 40-hour follow-up training that becomes more
difficult. So the question becomes how do we train that officer that
doesn’t have that direct support in that branch — those are things
we’re discussing internally.

CS: In your time here in Canada, what do you think is missing in terms of guard training?

Gulsby: It’s really not unlike what I have seen in previous roles —
it’s standardization. Having that one training program or one way in
which officers are processed from a federal standpoint that is lacking
in the industry as a whole. Being a national provider we do bring
standardization with the screening process and we do have some internal
training programs that help introduce standardization, but as an
industry it’s sorely lacking.

CS: Would it make more sense to have one piece of legislation that is the standard across all provinces for the guard industry?

Gulsby: It would make it a lot easier from our standpoint, but I am
always cognizant that the provinces need to do what’s best for them and
so far the provinces have been talking to each other and I think what
has been developed in Ontario will start to roll out in other
provinces. There has been a lot of talking and interaction to try and
get some standardization.

CS: This has been a tough year financially for many companies. What are
you hearing from customers about what they need from you to help them
reduce costs?

Gulsby: Our approach is always to try and identify the most cost
effective solution for our customers. Whether we introduce some
technologies or a different way of doing things, like taking a fresh
look at the way we provide our services to each individual customer.

It’s easy to be a partner in good times but where partnership really
shows itself is during the tough times. We’re being pulled deeper into
organizations as well to be more of a security consulting type of firm
in terms of helping them with processes and procedures at a corporate
level.

CS: On Sept. 1, Securitas CEO Alf Goransson told Reuters that he
expects sales will shrink in 2009 from their level last year. In terms
of next year, if the recession drags on, do you think the pain will
linger for the industry for quite a while?

Gulsby: Personally I think we’ve hit the bottom with respect to the
recession, but I don’t think the pain is over. Just because we hit the
bottom doesn’t mean we’re going up but the worst may be over now. By
working with our customers in the bad times, financially, and looking
at what’s best for them and what’s best for our organization as well we
can develop what’s best for the present time. It’s an individual
conversation with each of our customers.

CS: What’s your experience been with the competitive bid process?

Gulsby: It is challenging. I think if we allow ourselves to be looked
at as a commodity that’s how we’ll be bought and that has to be
changed. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but by us moving the
industry more to a professional side and moving customers to that side
and developing those relationships to find out what those needs are
when we deliver a proposal it’s a proposal with value in it — a
proposal that is addressing their actual needs instead of something
that is taken off the printer, put in a binder and handed to them with
the pricing page. We’ve got to get away from the days of opening a
proposal, going to pricing, going to references and making the
selection based off just that — we have to get away from
commodity-based purchasing.

View a video interview with Dwayne Gulsby here.


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