Firm Helps With Multiple Risks

    GRAND RAPIDS — You wouldn’t say Corporate Security Solutions (CSS) is exactly new to town.

    But until this time last year, it didn’t exist in its present form, either.

    July 1, 2003, was the date on which Chris Frain, of Grand Haven, and Andy Shaffer, a Lansing native, consolidated their four corporate security companies doing business from Cincinnati to Detroit, to Jackson, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

    The result was CSS.

    Frain, the first investor in the firm, is its president and Shaffer is vice-president.

    According to Shaffer, the company — headquartered at 1145 28th St. SE — has about 900 employees.

    “Our base business is uniformed security,” he said. “But we also have an investigative division and — as of Jan. 1 — we bought Alarm Medic and made it into our electronic systems division. That just about makes every building in town a potential client.”

    Last year’s consolidation also brought American Sensory Protection Services of Cincinnati under the CSS umbrella.

    Locally, the firm currently provides uniformed security for the city of Grand Rapids and for the Grand Rapids office of the state Family Independence Agency. Shaffer says the company also serves about 20 Grand Rapids area businesses, though for reasons of confidentiality he declined to identify them.

    He said that the company’s investigations division provides services for several local law firms, and also provides investigative and undercover work within other companies.

    He noted that the firm’s undercover people worked with West Michigan police in identifying a drug ring that was operating within an industrial plant.

    Shaffer told the Business Journal that beyond workplace substance abuse, the firm’s investigators also help corporations find the truth connected with allegations concerning theft, industrial espionage, civil litigation, embezzlement, sexual and racial harassment, workplace accidents, and fraud related to insurance or workers’ compensation claims.

    Other areas in which the firm works are security systems ranging from alarms, to surveillance by closed-circuit TV, to secure area access control.

    Too, he indicated that CSS has a training component that can bring veterans of police agencies and military agencies to the head of the classroom.

    He said CSS can provide instructors for classes of two to 50 members in anything from self-defense and firearms to security patrolling and explosives recognition.

    Training modules also are available in specialized areas such as VIP protection, crowd surveillance and crowd control. In terms of crowd control, CSS provided not only the training, but also some of the security people who helped keep the peace during a bitter labor dispute in another part of the state.

    Shaffer stressed that while CSS has grown and changed, it has done so in tandem with the industry, thanks in part to 9-11.

    “Right after 9-11 there was a huge demand for increased security,” he said.

    In fact, when aviation resumed in the wake of the attack, he noted, the FAA tightened airport security requirements so stringently that one international airport couldn’t find enough people with the requisite training.

    He said CSS was called in to fill the staffing gap.

    “Since then, things have settled down,” Shaffer said. “People are a little more at ease.” “But what 9-11 has done is force every company to look at their own program. People expect a higher level of service now.”

    What that means, he said, is that most American firms nowadays just aren’t willing and, in terms of insurance coverage, can’t afford to trust their physical plant to the services of a night watchman.

    “It’s just that it’s no longer acceptable to have someone who’s there only to check for leaks and rattle the doorknobs,’ he said.

    “I’m not knocking retirees,” he cautioned. “Some of them do very good work and are highly qualified. But it’s the qualifications that count.

    “Nowadays, you need somebody that’s capable of responding to an emergency and who’s well-trained.”

    He concedes that his firm’s name isn’t exactly on everyone’s lips because most of the principals’ energies have gone in the past few years to acquisitions and consolidation of gains.

    “Now people are going to be hearing more about us,” he said.

    Shaffer said the firm’s goal is “to become a strong player in the regional security game and then eventually more of a national-type player.

    “We want to work with larger businesses — Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies — and see how far they take us.”     

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