Barton Protective Services Inc.
Barton Protective Services Inc.
Sales: $305 million (2002)
NAIC: 561611 Investigation Services; 561612 Security Guards and Patrol Services; 561621 Security Systems Services (Except Locksmiths)
Headquartered in Atlanta, Barton Protective Services Inc. provides security and emergency services through 33 offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. Specifically, Barton’s offerings include security officer, concierge, and patrol services as well as emergency medical and disaster response services, physical security services, intellectual asset protection services, fire and life safety services, workplace violence prevention services, and high incident management and risk management services. In line with its durable motto, “Barton provides,” the company offers contracted security officers to corporations, toll plazas, and gated communities throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. The company also provides electronic integration solutions via its alliance with SecurityLink from Ameritech. In total, the company serves over 700 clients and employs over 10,000 people. Barton, which in 2001 ranked 86th on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, is principally owned by its chairman and founder, Charles Barton Rice, Sr.
Late 1970s Origins
Charles Barton Rice, Sr., long-time chairman of the company, founded Barton Protective Services Inc. in 1977. That year he opened the company’s first office, what would become the Midtown Atlanta Branch, one of three Barton branches in the company’s home base of Atlanta, Georgia. In that same year, with the Piedmont Center, its first customer and a loyal client throughout Barton’s history, the new company began developing its expertise in the Class A office property market. That first account involved a grand total of 36.5 hours of security coverage per week, a humble beginning to be sure.
Although from its earliest years Barton established an excellent employer-employee relationship, it did have occasional problems. One involved Charles A. Kent, who began working for Barton in 1978. In October 1980, while he was working as a security guard at the United Parcel Service in Atlanta, there was an oil spill of about 4,600 gallons, for which Kent was held responsible. At the request of UPS, Barton removed Kent from his security post at that company. Kent alleged that over the next two years, Barton gave him a “bureaucratic runaround,” and in 1982 he filed a discrimination complaint with the Department of Labor. He claimed that Barton engaged in retaliatory discrimination against him because he had originally reported the oil spill at UPS to the Environmental Protection Agency, a charge denied by Barton. Kent later filed for unemployment compensation, but was also denied that. Barton argued that Kent had never been dismissed but that he voluntarily ended his employment with the company. Ultimately, Kent’s complaints against Barton were dismissed on the basis that they were not filed in a timely manner as required by the “whistleblower” provisions of the relevant federal law. Although Kent lost his bid for compensation, the affair left a sour taste and was probably instrumental in shaping the company’s strong commitment to both its employees’ training and their welfare—a commitment that would lead Barton to become a security industry leader in employee loyalty and retention.
In 1982, Barton established its National Training Center in Atlanta, one of the first training facilities for security professionals in the United States. It was originally created as a service center to meet Barton’s needs in Atlanta, but it later became the national support hub for the company’s entire training network, which would take in all of the company’s branch offices and their personnel. Over its evolution into that national hub, Barton’s National Training Center adopted relevant state-of-art technology and developed over 750 hours of training programs for use in its whole training network.
1983-95: Expansion Beyond Georgia
In 1983, Barton expanded its operations outside of Georgia for the first time. That year it opened its very successful branch in Charlotte, North Carolina. In an area of rapid growth and development, Charlotte challenged the new company to keep pace, which it managed well, over the years partnering with several of the area’s most prestigious firms and major properties.
Barton opened its first Florida branch in 1988, in Miami. Later in the year it opened a second Florida branch at Deerfield Beach. A major factor in the company’s decision to open branches in those two locations was the tremendous growth in the Sunshine State. The branches would eventually service 45 customers and employ 525 people in the South Florida area; they would also serve as the locus of Barton’s Florida Department of Transportation Division, which by the end of the century employed over 1,100 people for Florida highway toll operations.
The company opened its first Texas branch in Houston in 1992. There, operations centered on the corporate needs for security services in the high-tech and petrochemical industries. Eventually, its client base would include Shell Oil, Equistar Chemicals, and Donohue Industries. The Houston branch also became the security provider for the Sharpstown Mall and Greenway Plaza, large, high-traffic shopping plazas. The growth of the Houston branch prompted Barton to open another training and support office in Pasadena, servicing the needs of customers operating in the Houston ship channel.
Late 1990s Overseas Expansion
A major development for Barton occurred in 1996, when the company partnered with Sun Microsystems. At the time, the company had no branch in the Silicon Valley, but Sun determined that Barton could do the job the computer giant needed, and it retained the company to provide security services for it operations in Northern California. Over the next couple of years, Sun acknowledged its satisfaction with the arrangement, bestowing on Barton its “Supplier-of-the-Year” accolade in 1997 and its “Outstanding Supplier” award in 1999.
The growth of some of Barton’s clients had an important impact on its own pattern of development. In 1996, the company opened a Denver branch specifically to serve the expanding needs of two customers—Premisys and Sun Microsystems—after they themselves branched into the Denver area.
Moreover, the partnership with Sun Microsystems directly led to new opportunities for the company. Starting in 1998, when it began providing security service at Sun’s facilities in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, Barton began its expansion into overseas markets. Once in England, the company began offering people-oriented security services in London and the Thames Valley region. In 1998, Barton also opened a branch in San Francisco, looking to find customers among many potential high-rise and high-tech clients. The branch augmented Barton’s presence in California, since it already had an older established branch in Los Angeles.
1999 and Beyond: Continued Growth under a Changing Guard
In February 1999, Barton opened a new branch office in Boston, once more in conjunction with the needs of Sun Microsystems, which had facilities in Chelmsford and Burlington, Massachusetts. However, in addition to providing security for Sun’s operations, the new branch landed a contract to provide such services for “The Pru.” Boston’s downtown landmark Prudential Center, which served as the corporate headquarters of the Gillette Company and several other concerns. Late in the same year, Barton formed another branch in Austin, Texas, which was initially opened to meet the security needs of a Fortune 500 company in the semiconductor industry.
At the start of 2000, Rice turned Barton’s operating reins over to Tom Ward, who was installed as both CEO and president. In addition to his extensive background in the security industry, Ward had served as president of Snelling & Snelling and was a partner in Management 2000, a consulting firm that specialized in strategic planning for larger companies. In the press release announcing Ward’s appointment, Rice observed, “Before Tom joined us, I had spent 14 years taking Barton from zero to $44 million annually in sales. In the last eight years, Tom has taken us from $44 million to $200 million … and we fully expect to be a $500 million company within the next several years. But more importantly, I know that Tom will lead without sacrificing the values that got us where we are today— by winning the customer for life, by taking care of our people, by rewarding them and acknowledging them and by never becoming complacent.”
During 2000, for the first time, Fortune named Barton as one of the nation’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and the following year it made the list again, moving up from number 97 to number 86. That same year, Barton opened up a branch on the 28th floor of the Empire State Building in Manhattan. Its aim, again, was to build a customer base from among Class A and B real estate buildings and Fortune 500 corporations. Adjacent to its offices, Barton also established a New York State approved security training school.
Our mission: To Win the Customer for Life! We strive to execute this mission every single day by focusing on three operating strategies: Ensure 100% customer satisfaction. We fully understand the expectations of our customers and pledge to meet or exceed these expectations. Deliver world class service. We select dynamic and service-oriented security professionals who have a passion for excellence and understand that our pursuit of quality and continuous improvement is never-ending. Respect every employee. True competitive advantage lies not in products, processes or technology—but in people. We provide financial and career growth opportunities for our employees in a work environment that values employee wellness and well-being, diversity, participation and individuality.
Barton’s growth into a major security services business through the 1990s and into the first year of the next decade was slow and steady. Comparatively speaking, it compiled an excellent record in retaining both its personnel and clients. It also widely distributed its business across its national network of branch offices, each of which developed a solid client core. For example, in 2001, the company’s very first office, what became the Midtown Branch in Atlanta, with a force of 650 employees, claimed a client base of 65 customers. The company also was planning to continue its expansion abroad, hoping to form new partnerships with customers in the sizable European market.
Several factors have accounted for Barton’s good employee-retention record, rare in an industry noted for its high turnover in personnel. The company provided fringe benefits similar companies simply would not offer, including medical and dental insurance, vision care, short-term disability insurance, and Bank of America direct-deposit cash-pay cards. It was also the first company in the security industry to offer a matching 401(k) plan. In addition, the company has offered good training programs that were constantly being upgraded to help employees keep their skill levels up to par.
Barton’s clients seemed no less content than the company’s employees. In fact, the company has pretty much lived up to its abbreviated mission statement: “win the customer for life.” In 2000, Barton claimed a 97 percent client retention rate, which way outdistanced the industry’s average of 75 percent.
An additional senior-executive level change occurred in January 2001, when Baron appointed Patrick O. McNulty as chief operating officer and located him at his Barton’s Global Customer and Employee Support Center command post in Atlanta. McNulty, with 20 years experience in the contract security service industry, reported directly to the company’s CEO and president, Tom Ward. At the time of his selection, McNulty was serving as president of the East Central Region for Securitas/Pinkerton. He had begun his career with the Chicago-based Kane Service, a private security firm that his great grandfather has founded in 1911.
The Chubb Corporation; Command Security Corporation; Protection One, Inc.; Securicor plc; Securitas AB; The Wackenhut Corporation.
- Charles Barton Rice, Sr., founds company.
- Company opens an office in Charlotte, North Carolina, its first branch outside of Georgia.
- Barton expands in Texas, purchasing Las Colinas Security in Dallas.
- Barton forms partnership with Sun Microsystems in the Silicon Valley.
- Company expands abroad, providing security services for Sun in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.
- Tom Ward is named CEO and president; New York branch opens.
- Rice receives Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Business Service Category; Barton is named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For for the second year in a row.
Harbour, Jessica, and Emmet Martin, “Take This Job and Love It,” Atlanta, November 2000, p. 116.
“Optio Software Selected by Barton Protective Services,” Business Wire, August 20, 2001.
—John W. Fiero
"Barton Protective Services Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/barton-protective-services-inc
"Barton Protective Services Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved October 21, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/barton-protective-services-inc
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