As an international executive protection company, we go where our clients need to go – and do what it takes to keep them safe, happy and productive. We normally work on either a project basis or through embedded programs in which we place executive protection agents/managers and intelligence analysts within the client organization. But sometimes the client’s needs are so wide-ranging that other solutions are required.
In this case, that involved setting up a new subsidiary in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a region known for a high rate of violent crime.
The challenge: Start up a new executive protection subsidiary in a gang-infested area of Central America.
Our client, a company with sales and distribution worldwide, maintains a number of facilities throughout Central America, where we have provided them with executive protection services for several years.
In 2015, the client asked us to set up a fully-owned subsidiary of Allied Universal® Executive Protection & Intelligence Services in Honduras. The client’s activities there had reached a scale that justified having our own, full-time staff in terms of both protective quality and cost management. The preferred location was San Pedro Sula, a city so beset by gang violence that it consistently places at the “top” of the list of the world’s most dangerous places, with one of the highest murder rates on the planet.
In addition to the complications of setting up a legal entity in Honduras, a special set of challenges loomed largely: finding reliable staff in a city so dominated by gangs, and rapidly bringing the new company’s performance and quality standards up to our stringent international level.
The solution: Exhaustive background checks, extensive training, international management and ongoing third-party controls.
Our first order of business was to put a manager in place who had international and local security experience, a person with both Honduran and US cultural competencies.
As part of our agreement with the client, we took over an existing Honduran security company and built on top of that. We quickly had to decide which staff to keep and which to let go. Being “clean” and free of any relationships with gangs was of primary importance for this and all subsequent recruitment, so we developed a program of exhaustive background checks and drug testing combined with expert polygraph testing by an independent third party flown in from abroad.
Lifting the Honduran team’s operational readiness to our international standard was another key priority. We did this through intensive training in the hard and soft skills that are critical to our profession.
Finally, we had to improve security for ourselves. Like any other business in San Pedro Sula, this included hardening the perimeter and shell of our offices, and providing some of our own security professionals with executive protection. It’s that kind of town.
The result: A fully functioning security operation that lives up to the highest international standards – in months.
Our Honduran team currently counts 45 full-time staff, all of whom have passed, and continue to pass, ongoing background, drug and polygraph testing.
The team provides the highest standard of executive protection services for our client and their many guests from abroad. And now also offers similar protection to other clients whose business takes them to Honduras and the rest of Central America.