September 11th, 2019 has come and gone, but the aftermath of that same day in 2001 are still shaping our world and our work. The events of 9/11 were seismic. Before that terrible day, it would have been difficult for (almost) anyone to have foreseen those tragic events unfolding the way that they did. And that may explain why none of our competitors had any preparations for such a situation.
While they floundered in their own indecisions, I knew it was critical that we take charge of the situation. We needed to take steps to not only ensure our clients’ buildings protection but also to create a situational environment of confidence around the properties that we protected.
The majority of my company’s business was commercial office buildings at that time, so our clientele felt particularly vulnerable during those dark days in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
At a moment of national vulnerability, when everyone else was overwhelmed and disorganized, we stepped up and acted decisively and confidently. We knew what we needed to learn, so we took to the best experts available and sought out the answers we needed.
We went to work overtime to address those special needs. We hired and assigned extra guards to every property and within 24-to-36 hours after the attacks, we not only had every one of our buildings open for business, but we also had instituted all of the previously underutilized security protocols that are now commonly used in most public buildings and venues: bag checks, car scans in parking garages, and heightened public interface from our security officers.
In just a little over 24 hours, we completely revamped our approach to security. And, in doing so, we learned that we were suddenly at the forefront of our industry in this regard.
We reached out and involved the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Los Angeles County Police Department, and Orange County Sheriff Department to formulate a cohesive policy and protocol for security moving forward into what had clearly become a brand-new age.
We reviewed the indicators of terrorist activity that everyone now needed to be alert to, preparedness and evacuation procedures, and general steps that could be taken to improve their building’s overall security. We talked about what had gone wrong in New York and what they could do to avoid making similar mistakes. We discussed absolutely everything that was necessary to harden the security around their buildings.
As part of our measures to provide an adequate response to our existing customers, in concert with the information we learned from Federal and State authorities, we created a presentation that outlined what we were doing to step-up the level of security that we would be delivering moving forward and what the properties themselves could do to assist in those efforts to provide an environment that offered their tenants and guests confidence in the building’s overall safety in the event of any foreseeable hostile activity.
We were, for all intents and purposes, the only company to take these measures—and certainly the only firm to offer programs that were even remotely on this level.
Like everyone else in the country, the companies that were considered the security giants at the time had been caught completely off guard by those terrible events and they could not demonstrate an ability to adapt and respond in a meaningful fashion, certainly not the same way that we had done for our customers.
People began to take notice of us. Our phones began to ring, not just with new customers—but from people who were overwhelmed by what had happened and the monumental implications moving forward. Still stunned by the tragedy, people were uncertain about what they needed to do to protect themselves and their property, and they turned to us for guidance.
Our presentations were a huge success and we began to get requests from property managers at buildings we did not have under contract who were in need of this information but were unable to find it anywhere else.
And then in no time, we were fielding requests from property managers from other buildings who wanted to attend our sessions because their current security service providers weren’t up to speed.
By taking these steps, we were able to make dramatic inroads into both previously untapped markets and into the customer base of our competitors. The results for our business were incredible and it ushered us into a time of growth that even we never could have imagined or anticipated.
What I realized in the aftermath was that the damage done to our nation by these terrorist attacks was not limited to the lives so tragically taken or the substantial property damage that had been created. Instead, there was an emotional wound that had been opened up across the country, a savage blow to our collective psyche, and an injury that needed to be triaged and treated by someone.
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