It’s a Woman’s World

Cover Story

It’s a Woman’s World

The security industry has been a man’s world for a long time. Tradeshows used to be when the good old boys would get together and rally, exchanging war stories and giving pats on the back. Those days are largely in the past as the industry now has its fair share of women contributing and making a difference.

There likely never was a glass ceiling, fact is, it has just been a man’s world.

As with the technology in the industry, times are changing and Nancy Ford, and many other women, are now filling the rank and file of a booming industry. Ford is the owner of Security101, a franchise integrator, based in Salt Lake City. Nancy is one of only two Security101 female owners, and both are part of the larger Security101 franchise. Security101 is based in West Palm Beach, Fla., but franchises are located nationwide, largely along the East Coast but stretch across the Midwest, the Mountain States and the West Coast.

Ford’s franchise covers Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.

“I’ve never felt out of place in the company, or in the industry,” Ford said. “I love technology and the security industry is a perfect fit for what I want to accomplish during this part of my career. As a company, we have to be in tune with the market, and we are; and we have the opportunity to share experiences with other corporate franchises, which we do.”

Security 101 was established in 2003, and it operates under a global franchise model where all offices are independently owned and operated. There are 37 offices in 22 states. Ford’s Security 101 Utah office is a certified woman-owned small business, which opened its doors in 2011. It didn’t take long for the Utah office to build up a pretty impressive client list, including Hill Air Force Base, McKesson Pharmaceutical, Boeing, Ultradent, Lockheed Martin and many other equally impressive local and national accounts.

“We design, engineer, install and maintain end-to-end security systems with complete integration,” Ford said. “We offer all the traditional security solutions, and other more advanced solutions, such as drone detection solutions, virtual guard services and advanced analytics for smart cities technology.”

There’s the key word to the Security101 Salt Lake City operation, technology. Self-admitted, Ford is a technology person. If the solution is a little out of reach or on the edge of thought, you can bet Ford is involved one way or another. She’s not in this alone, husband, Rob is the vice president of operations and a co-owner. Together, the Fords bring an interesting background in the techie world.

Nancy spent more than 25 years in the corporate world with technology leadership experience at American Express and IBM. She was the director of global disaster recovery at AMEX, and was the CIO at American Express Bank. She has plenty of certifications, and recently was named as one of the top “30 Women to Watch.” Nancy is an FAA licensed pilot and has been appointed to the National Drone Advisory Committee subcommittee.

For more than 25 years, Rob led global enterprise teams that managed complex systems at IBM. He has advanced technical expertise in server architecture, data center management, infrastructure and physical security.

“Rob has the ability to bridge communication between customers and technical professionals,” Nancy said. “This success has contributed to success in serving large customers, such as Morgan Stanley, American Express and Williams Energy.”

The Fords seem to have a match made in heaven, when in fact, it is a match made between IBM and AMEX, where once upon a time, Nancy (AMEX) was Rob’s (IBM) customer. When the couple decided they had had enough of the corporate world, they turned attention to owning their own business, Security101 Salt Lake City.

“I was very excited to have my own business but make no mistake, it helps to be surrounded by the right people who understand technology, and have the backing of Security101 corporate,” Nancy said. “We hired the right people, who have been in the security business a long time. Once Rob and I fulfilled our “tour of duty” in the corporate world, we designed our exit strategy, then began looking for a business that was technology based. At first, it wasn’t security.”

“Once we saw this model, and the support that we would receive, we knew this was the right fit,” she said.

To build a profitable and successful business, Nancy went after some key staff. Carl Berg is the commercial sales director, focusing on commercial client acquisition activities. Berg has successfully implemented programs to key accounts, such as Marriott, Chase, Disney, MGM and General Motors. His designs for integration include Hill AFB, city of South Jordan, Chevron and Kern River Pipeline, among others.

Greg Keele is the director of business development. His designs are found in verticals that include government, healthcare, airport and critical infrastructure.

Ron Cluff is the security sales director, and his expertise for corporate clients is risk assessment and ROI analysis. A few of his keystone clients are The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Shoshone Casino, BP, Haliburton, Baker Hughes and Humana.

Larry Keele is the company’s operations manager, specializing in technical engineering and the latest technical designs. Kurt Hundley is the lead installation engineer and programmer.

Customers are equally impressed with the Security101 Salt Lake City model. Chandler Hair, security director at Ultradent met the team six years ago, as the dental appliance manufacturer was switching from an analog system to an all IP network security solution. A worldwide company, Ultradent takes up 500,000 square feet of space in the Salt Lake Valley. Security101 has installed more than 210 card readers to protect the campus environment. The facility has millions of dollars’ worth of manufacturing equipment, but also the access control is meant to protect intellectual property as well.

Ultradent has a team of five security officers that are housed in an ultra-modern security operations center.

“Security101 has installed a security system that allows our staff to do their work while monitoring outside and inside our facilities,” Hair said. “We expect our security to do its job, to be discrete. Our security system is anything but orthodox as we modify and change as needed. We have requested help from the Security101 staff and gotten help from them almost immediately. We had the need for a camera installation with only a 72-hour notice, and Security101 came through without question.”

Security101’s staff doesn’t rush into a potential job. Rather, a comprehensive risk mitigation and critical infrastructure report was prepared for the Kern River Gas Transmission Company, which has pump stations located in California, Nevada and Utah. Security101 Salt Lake City pulled out all the stops, using a drone to photograph site locations, so the staff could provide a threat assessment. This gave the staff the opportunity to determine what was likely to happen under certain threats, and what the liabilities would be. The report really gave the client a roadmap to build their security strategy. Security 101 landed the account, which includes protection at 11 sites.

Nancy said the company had to go against the grain when bidding on this particular project. It was not awarded to the lowest bidder, but when Nancy and her team gave a sensible alternative where security solutions were able to speak to one another, it made sense, and they were awarded the contract.

Because Nancy doesn’t mind bucking a trend, she is keenly aware of the threat drones will likely play sooner, rather than later. Experts aren’t so much worried about the one drone, one person scenario, but do have valid concerns about the one person and 10 drones flying toward a stadium, for instance. Security101 Salt Lake City is currently working with D-drone and Spotter RF to access software solutions, where PTZ cameras will have eyes on the target, and can determine the extent of any threat.

“It will come down to protocol and procedure,” Nancy said. “There will have to be staff training, understanding what the threat may be and how to legally take a drone out of the sky. There is a way to do that safely, and that is what we are trying to implement into the protocol.”

So, once again, it all comes down to technology. Nancy Ford embraced the opportunity years ago, taking advantage of her many male mentors, and the approach that she has much to learn. She is humble when it comes to learning about new technology, and has earned credibility among her peers. She is still driven with the corporate mentality, though her staff is quick to regale her instincts of a caring personality. Perhaps Kurt Hundley said it best, that there are two things about Nancy (and Ron) that stand out: “They do the right thing every time for the customer,” and “working here feels more like family than working for an employer.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Security Today.

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