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Stigg: Game Changers in the Security Industry

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It all started with a flat tire. Vijay Joshi was new in Fort McMurray working for an IT company when his car developed a slow leak. Every day he would have to go to the gas station and pump it up. This was back when the town was experiencing one of its growth spurts and it could take a week to get an appointment to fix something. In the meantime Vijay had noticed the pretty woman behind the counter, and suddenly his problem had become a romantic opportunity.

Fast forward 11 years and Dilraj has become his life partner in more ways than one. They are married now, with three children, happily settled in Fort McMurray. More importantly, they are partners in Stigg Security, one of the most innovative and professional protection agencies in the community.

Vijay’s background in the high tech world led him to believe there are better and smarter ways to do almost everything. Gone are the days when securing property meant hiring someone to sit in a guard hut and look out at snowy expanses of Alberta. Passive protection has been replaced with a more active and internet based system, and today’s security staff are professional, paid for a professional job and trained to do that job correctly.

“We don’t want our staff struggling to make ends meet,” says Vijay. “Sometimes security guards are working two jobs and it’s hard for them to stay enthused when they’re not getting enough sleep. That’s the difference at Stigg. We don’t have guards, we have security professionals. We train them appropriately and pay them in such a way that they can devote their time at work to their job function.”

All Stigg Security Professionals are enrolled into the company pension and medical plan. They are treated with respect and their concerns are listened to. As a result they are more invested in the company’s success and encouraged to come forward and make suggestions that will help the company and clients. And that’s another difference, as General Manager Dustin Bullis tells us. “At Stigg, we believe our security professionals can hold their heads up high and be proud of the career they have chosen. Proper security of property stars with trained thinking staff, and given the innovations in the industry it’s vital that our people have a knowledge of technology and a willingness to learn.”

Dustin is Alberta-born, and moved to Fort McMurray from Edmonton to take this job. His previous life in Security and as a business owner have him placed ideally to front this business, but it is his newfound community loyalty that is shaping Stigg’s staff profile. “We look to hire local people as we believe that our staff should be invested in the community they help to protect. As a result we are intensely invested in their training, to give them the tools they need to do their job.”

Training has changed a lot in recent years. Advances in technology mean that all the staff are constantly connected. “We equip everyone with watches that monitor everyone in the field. We use an NFC (Near Field Communication) system that cannot be duplicated or tampered with, so all reports are accurate and reliable. What does this mean? Tracking the staff helps to protect them and allows accurate data about the protection systems in place. As one example, Vijay explained, “If we see that a member in the field is suddenly displaying an elevated heart rate, it could be because he has been running. If so, we ask why he’s been running. Has he seen something? Is he investigating a break-in? Depending on the assessment of the threat level, we don’t necessarily need to wait for him to report in. We can then dispatch additional assistance, and maybe even involve the authorities if needs be. Because this is happening in real time, our response rates are far higher than the industry averages. Staff are safer and so are the assets we are protecting.”

So, technology that ensures staff are safe as well as alert. That must be the best tool in the box, right? Well no, that’s barely the start. Camera and video technology has grown exponentially, and quite often the best kind of surveillance is both unobtrusive and evidence gathering. The ASUs (Autonomous Surveillance Units) that Stigg own and operate meld the best of modern technology into a tool that works in the harshest of environments. The units are transportable and look like the small lighting trailers so common to work sites. What they can do, however, seems more like James Bond than Bob the Builder.

Solar panels keep the units charged so that they operate independently, with a battery backup for night time work. The camera is at the top of a 25 foot mast, which means it has a bird’s eye view of the property, and can be zoomed in and focused with pinpoint efficiency. Then there is the combination of high-definition filming and laser-like lighting that can capture footage as much as 150 metres away. The units also have a 30 day onboard video storage and are maintenance free, which means they can be deployed in remote locations and used to give instant feedback to Stigg headquarters.

“We can zoom in and film anywhere on the site within the set parameters,” says Dustin. “And the customer can see this feed live, anytime he wants. We can set it up so it can be watched in his plant control room, on his computer and even on his phone or tablet. What’s even better is the customer can operate the camera. Say for example the client was out at the site, and halfway home he thinks he may have left the warehouse door open. He can pull over, check his phone and zoom the camera to see. Then he can call us and we’ll send someone to fix the issue if we haven’t already dealt with it.”

The technology is such that the cameras can be used to set up an invisible perimeter system in places where security fencing isn’t always possible. It can also count all the people who enter and leave a site, and alert Stigg staff for any discrepancies. Aside from the obvious security aspect, this ability is also useful for health and safety reasons; an automated head count can be the quickest way to ascertain that everyone has gone home safely at the end of the day.

Stigg has been working in Fort McMurray for two years, and like everyone else they were affected by the fires. “Once we had made sure our staff were all evacuated safely,” said Vijay, “our next step was to work remotely, waiting for the day when we would be allowed back to monitor our clients’ assets. We were among the first back, and our staff were housed with the first responders for a while, doing their job alongside them. In addition we were able to report, via our remote links, on the status of the fire at the sites we were protecting.”

Lest all this talk of technology suggest a lack of the human touch, Dustin counters with a list of their other services. “There are times when on-site guarding is necessary and we can provide that as a standalone service or in combination with our remote technology capabilities and our mobile guarding staff. This makes us very flexible and able to adapt to all aspects of a client’s needs. We are also flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. Sometimes a client will need temporary guards for a one off situation. We can help with that.”

Indeed, despite the company’s tech acumen, there are still times when staff in uniform are the best deterrent against vandalism and theft. Stigg staff are also trained in hazard recognition procedures and are encouraged to report on these to help maintain a safer workplace. And it’s could for morale. Workers who feel safe on site seeing a visible security presence, are in general happier workers. Dustin again. “Our officers are trained to react to incidents calmly, quickly and professionally. They are all connected to our main office and we are able to execute an appropriate response to their on-site assessment. Later, we’re able to give the client a report on every incident that took place, along with our recommendations for the future.”

That’s very important as well. Much of Stigg Security’s work involves constantly updating the security parameters for their clients. Plans are drawn up for all eventualities from the smallest, (power failures and weather changes) to the biggest, (floods and fires, by way of example).

Vijay’s confidence in the services they offer goes back to one of the core philosophies of the company. “Joshi said right at the beginning that the key to a business like this is we had to treat our staff well. We can only expect dedication if we prove our own dedication first.” As a result, Stigg are proud that they have the highest paid staff in the industry. This means they can recruit the best and it shows in the commitment the staff have to their clients. “It’s something everyone notices about us. There is an enthusiasm among the staff to be at work. It runs through the whole company, and we want to keep it that way.”

Stigg’s success is driven by a vital concept. They want to change the face of security. In this age of specialization, it makes sense that the people who you trust to protect your staff and guard your assets also need to have specialized skills, and Stigg have embraced that concept. In addition to constant and continued training, the management philosophy which arises from this care may be distilled down to one sentence; what can we do to make your jobs easier?

It’s a simple concept that implies a much deeper thought process. Happy customers are generated by happy staff. Happy staff are those who have been given the tools to do their job in a sensible and efficient manner, knowing that management is looking out for them. And the most important way management can do that is to question the systems and procedures in place and test them constantly to make them better.

What can we do to make your jobs easier?

Stigg are happy with how far they’ve come in the last two years, growing cautiously and working with clients who share their same ideals. It’s a testing time to be in business in Alberta, but Stigg are here for the long haul. “Dilraj and I are settled here in Fort McMurray, says Vijay. “Our kids are in school, we’re part of the community and what a strong community it is. We saw so many instances of that strength during that fire. We are proud to be here, proud to call Fort McMurray our home, and proud to serve our community.

And what of the name, Stigg? Vijay smiles. “Like so much else in the setup of the company and the way we do business, it was my wife Joshi’s idea. We wanted a name that wouldn’t limit our potential, and we wanted to be remembered. Stigg means that we pay attention to every detail of the business, even to the name.”

And has it worked? “It’s often a conversation opener, people ask about the name Stigg and are interested in our answer. We like to think that Stigg stands for professionalism in the workplace, for dedication, and for caring about the community.

Bold words for a bold new word. There may come a time when Stiggian appears in dictionaries as an adjective describing all those qualities the company values. If it does, remember you heard it here first. Stigg Security Inc. Professional, dedicated and concerned.