Rising to the Top
By building his own ULC-listed central station, Mike Jagger hopes to take Provident Security and its guaranteed five-minute response time to the top of the Vancouver security market.
After a 28-year career as a RCMP officer, Garry Appleton knows what he wants from a security alarm provider. “To me, customer service is paramount,” says Appleton, now the security manager of the Mark Anthony Group (MAG), a Vancouver, B.C.-based distiller of premium wines and alcoholic beverages, including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, with offices, production and distribution centres scattered across North America. “Having the right technology is important too, but when an alarm sounds I need a real person, not a recorded message, to respond – and fast.”
So when Appleton went shopping for a total security system to protect the homes of MAG’s top executives, as well as the premises of his company’s vast production and warehousing facilities, he didn’t have to go far. Among those who plugged their prices and high-tech packages was Provident Security & Event Management Corp., a bold upstart in the security industry headquartered in Vancouver’s West Side. “I call them mavericks,” says Appleton. “They’re competitive in every respect, but it’s their customer service philosophy that clinched it for me.” From his perspective, Provident’s difference is its immediate response commitment.
“We’re the only company in North America that guarantees response within five minutes of receiving an alarm signal,” claims Mike Jagger, the founder of Provident Security, one of the city’s fastest growing security companies serving about 4,000 clients. “The way we look at it, we”re in a service industry. We want those customers who feel they aren”t being served by our competitors.”
Incorporating Provident in 1996, Jagger began carving out his niche by providing special event security services. “Back then, it was a means to help cover my university tuition,” he says. The company was started using a $500 limit on a personal Mastercard and has since grown to more than 160 employees.
“Our goal is to be this region’s leading full-service security provider,” states Jagger, pointing out that in addition to Provident’s current suite of services, including guard services, alarm services, special event/personal protection, alarm installation, monitoring medical emergency panic systems, and video and audio verification systems, the company also recently invested more than $1 million in building a state-of-the-art central monitoring station. “Our ULC-listed station is the keystone component in our customer-first approach and will propel Provident, we believe, to the top of the security market in this city.”
The impetus for the massive investment in constructing its own central station, Jagger explains, was (and is) to allow Provident to control every step of its response service. “As we don”t do any “verification calls” upon receipt of an alarm, we must take every second out of the dispatching process. Having our own monitoring station lets us do that.”
With a view to meeting and exceeding all ULC requirements, Jagger sought to partner with a specialist in central station design and construction. Through recommendations, Danny Prue, a security industry consultant located in Barrie, Ont., was eventually contracted to the project. Says Jagger, “He helped guide us through the ins and outs of the ULC process, often spending weeks with us here making sure we get off on the right foot. We wanted everyone involved in this project to have a great customer service background.” That, he notes, has been critical in putting the Provident stamp on its identity and brand protection. “As well, we required a lot of up-front training to bring our team up to speed with the actual security requirements of the new station,” Jagger continues.
To that end, Provident’s customer service manager, Dianne Dobbins, attended a training session in Memphis, Tenn., last year to receive her certification as a central station operator trainer. Coupled with ongoing training skills development, Jagger lauds, “Dianne has become a phenomenal central station manager and is leading our team into the future.”
For Provident, the biggest hurdle during the construction of its central station was meshing the station’s design to both ULC specifications and the City of Vancouver’s stringent construction bylaws. “The challenges we faced aren”t unique to monitoring stations,” says Prue, highlighting Provident was committed to receiving the ULC listing to provide the company assurance of quality and functionality. “As with any construction project, we were challenged by the need to comply with the City of Vancouver’s building code as well as the requirements of the Fire Marshall.”
One of the thorniest issues, according to Prue, was that of where to locate the generator, which was compounded by the change in ULC Standard 561 that now requires central stations to install a diesel-powered generator instead of natural gas powered generator, which Provident already purchased and approved by the city.
“The security demands of the ULC codes can run contradictory to the local fire code, particularly where it relates to emergency egress,” he adds. “The security vestibules must be designed to manage access as required by ULC while at the same time satisfying the Fire Marshall that emergency egress was possible.”
This was achieved through a combination of electronic access control and mechanical egress equipment, Prue explains. “Ongoing consultation with and final approval by the City of Vancouver was a necessary component of receiving an occupancy permit, allowing Provident to realize their goals.”
Despite the project’s unforeseen and time-consuming complexities, Jagger is jubilant with the result. “We”re perfectly positioned now to deliver on our promise ” the fastest, most efficient and reliable alarm response service available to our customers.”
Provident facilitates its fast response guarantee by focusing on specific geographic areas, utilizing security personnel patrolling the streets on foot, bicycle and in eye-catching bright yellow marked vehicles. “We”ve married our guard and alarm divisions by having two signals sent when a client’s alarm is triggered ” one to the guard directly [who are outfitted with GPS, Palm Pilots and radios] and one to the monitoring station ” we are never more than five minutes away from our customers,” boasts Jagger.
The company’s front-line assumes all alarms coming in are real until proven false. If a client causes a false alarm, all they need to do is call Provident and provide the correct password to ensure everything is alright. A Provident value-added service Jagger is particularly proud of is its Vacation Home Watch Program, comprising customized home watches of daily or hourly patrols, picking up newspapers and flyers, altering lighting, moving vehicles, and providing a detailed inspection of a client’s home furnace, plumbing and pool systems.
“Our staff can coordinate snow removal, lawn care and a range of other services to keep a home operating ‘as usual’ in the owner’s absence, whether it’s for the evening, the weekend or for the rest of the year,” he states.
A long-time satisfied Provident customer, Vancouver real estate agent Patricia Lum, is also an avid booster. “I refer all my clients to them,” she emphasizes. “And when I”m selling a new house, I write Provident into the buyer’s contract as the security provider of choice. From personal experience I know their response pledge is real. When you deal with the best there’s really no need to look elsewhere.”
Some referral” and one that every security company in Canada would love to have.