K Street Group is using the latest in Advanced Technology, Skilled and Well-Trained Man and Canine Teams to provide Security and Investigation Services to Facilities Worldwide
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine
CEOCFO: Mr. Aromando, what is the overall vision at K Street Group?
Mr. Aromando: K Street Group is unique in this industry of risk mitigation and protective services because we realize more than anyone that competitively-bid, transaction-based purchasing decisions of our types of services will not lead to long term value enhancement for our customers or for our shareholders.
Our business vision is to create value for our customers and our shareholders by being more selective in our choice of customers, and more proactive in committing staff and technical resources to selected customers. We seek to create and sustain relationships with a smaller number of individually more significant customers.
We have created a new business model. Our mission has three progressive elements. First, we seek to reduce our commitments to transaction-based customers that are only looking for the “lowest” price. Second, we have begun to make significant commitments of staff and technology to create relationship-based customers. Third, and ultimately, we believe we can evolve relationship-based customers into strategic customers, and this is where our vision meets reality.
We invest in technology and leverage the technology to enhance our ability to provide an even more effective protective services solution for our clients and to be able to deliver actionable threat intelligence solutions. A perfect example is we have licensed in four different social media intelligence platforms similar to those used by law enforcement agencies and this allows us to provide our customers with more web-based intelligence gathering when a situation arises. Given the current situation now with inauguration day, I can tell you that our social media platforms are humming like crazy because we are trying to get ahead of the curve when it comes to potential collateral damage next week.
CEOCFO: When you say licensed in, what does that mean?
Mr. Aromando: These are proprietary intelligence platforms that we pay an annual license fee, and we subscribe to them in order to permit us to be able to use them in order to aggregate publicly available data and allow us to cut and dice it into ways that make it meaningful and actionable.
CEOCFO: Is that done electronically by you?
Mr. Aromando: Yes, it is done electronically. It is all computer-based and it allows us to geo-locate activity, it allows us to keep an eye on trends whether it be good, bad, or indifferent. It allows us to understand what is going on around the world since we do operate globally.
CEOCFO: What do you understand as a team that gives you the edge to pick out something meaningful?
Mr. Aromando: We understand that this market, in general, has always had a bad reputation, whether it is because they are not training their individuals properly or they hire anybody that walks in the door, the turnover is extremely high. The industry boasts about a turnover of 300%, which is not ours.
We have people that have been with us from day one because we tend to pay higher than average wages and we do not have as formal as a structure as other companies may have and we do not take what we sometimes call bottom-of-the-barrel work because nobody makes money there. People tend not to feel so good about their jobs in those situations.
CEOCFO: Was this your strategy from the beginning or did you realize over time that you needed to focus and go more for the higher end?
Mr. Aromando: We realized over time a lot of people think that you just open a door and open a business and it comes your way and that is not the case, and I am sure a lot of your readers know that. In the beginning, we accepted and work that came our way, and then after a while, we started to see that these clients did not pay their bills on time and the people that worked for us were getting frustrated, so we switched our strategy and became more selective in the clients we chose to do business with. We make sure that we can make a reasonable profit and more importantly make sure we can get paid on our terms, not their terms.
CEOCFO: What types of companies are turning to K Street Group for service?
Mr. Aromando: Without divulging our client’s names, we have been a preferred provider to one of the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world and we do an awful lot of work for them whether it may be a fraud investigation, executive protection, or special event security, and they are extremely satisfied with our service primarily because we are a small company that responds immediately to any emergency, anywhere in the world with laser-like focus. We make ourselves available to any client at any time day or night, holidays, it does not matter. For a mega pharmaceutical company to be able to have such access to the people that are basically protecting their most important assets, that is very important.
Another area that we work in extensively is the houses of worship. We focus on a lot of the Jewish temples where we provide armed security at their facilities because a lot of them have schools with young children. We come to them with more than just armed security officers, we have a canine unit that we started back in 2018 that is growing weekly because there is such a demand for canines, not attack canines but these are for explosive protection and for narcotics detection, search and rescue. We deal with some retail but not many, we have a retail client that we have had from day one, and we service seven of their locations and then we do some distribution centers as well.
CEOCFO: As new threats come, how are you able to restructure and stay on top of what is needed?
Mr. Aromando: Being the size that we are, we move quickly and can shift gears in seconds to meet any need of our clients. It is also the uniqueness of being able to license in the social media intelligence platforms that we mentioned earlier and this tells us and informs us as to what we need to keep an eye on. For example, we monitor certain aspects of social media for one of our largest clients just from the standpoint to see if there is any red flag chatter about them or the CEO and there have been occasions when we found red flag chatter and we reached out to our client and advise them we needed to raise the threat level on this and make it a soft increase, we did not have to make it a hard increase. We keep eyes on those things and customers know that when we come to the table we do not just come with a person in a uniform. It is like they have their own risk mitigation department with an unlimited supply of resources.
CEOCFO: How do people find out about K Street Group?
Mr. Aromando: Most of the time it is referral especially with the houses of worship because it is a big group and a small community and everybody talks amongst themselves, so we get references daily or several times a week. Yesterday someone was referred to us and called about a Jewish camp for the summer up in the Poconos and they would like us to provide the security for the summer. So this is how clients come to us and we do not advertise however, we are venturing into a very large digital marketing initiative starting next week.
CEOCFO: Why now for your marketing campaign?
Mr. Aromando: We’re getting ready to open a brand-new facility in June of 2021 which is going to be the K Street Group Canine and Tactical Training Academy. This academy is going to be open to law enforcement, First Responders, and public safety as well as corporate global security groups, and pet owners. It is going to have a very broad portfolio of courses for all stakeholders. For example, we are all very much aware of the defund the police movement and we are very much aware that public safety budgets are getting cleaved with a portion going to something that is less than a lethal type of response; that being said, police agencies do have budget money now to retrain their officers to de-escalate situations, but they’re not sure where to go for the training.
We have managed to create a faculty of extremely well-known individuals, such as subject matter experts in the area of canine as well as in the area of active shooter preparedness and other disciplines. We have put together an extremely visible faculty and in about four weeks we are going to release the first calendar of courses that we plan to offer.
CEOCFO: Are police departments actively looking for training outside of their own departments?
Mr. Aromando: Police officers are trained to go toward the gunfire, toward the bad actor. They do get a fair amount of training when comes to apprehending bad actors. They want to be able to get much more fluent in the verbiage of de-escalation because nobody wants to roll on the floor with a perpetrator, nobody wants to fire at somebody. One of the things that we have done with our people is yes, we have armed officers, but now we have certified them to carry tasers, so we have one more tool in the use of force continuum that is less than lethal, so they do not have to resort to that firearm.
We had a situation two weeks ago and one of our armed officers had to remove somebody from one of our retail locations. That individual pulled a knife on the officer and threatened to kill him, but all our officer had to do was take out the taser. She did not even use it. Upon seeing the taser, the individual simply dropped the knife. We were able to handcuff the individual and the individual was arrested. That was a situation where no one was injured, there was no collateral damage. It was one of those things where we had the opportunity to use a less than lethal force option. Had we not been certified to carry tasers, she may have had to draw her pistol. She may not have had to use it but at least she would have had to draw her pistol.
A majority of police officers are extremely caring individuals and they have a job to do and that is not the easiest job in the world to do. Then there is that small portion that may be overzealous and I think if we can do a better job of either weeding them out or making sure that we can put corrective measures in place, I think we may see a different type of police department.
CEOCFO: When you are providing services at a physical location or a school, you want to show there is security but you do not want to scare the children. How do you work on that balance?
Mr. Aromando: When we first started with the houses of worship, the temples that have actual schools on-premises, there was some concern initially on the part of temple administration but their thoughts were that they were soft targets and they had 350 children going to school there every day and they needed to protect them and keep them safe. When we selected our officers for one of our very first houses of worship, we made sure that they had children or at least raised children so they would know what it was like to be around young kids again, mainly ages four through six years. We make sure the officers extremely engaging.
At one of our temples, during the Christmas holidays, the kids present our security officers with a holiday card, thanking them for being there. We see that and think people are going to yell and scream that they do not want the kids to be intimidated, but if the officers you assign are screened to have that personality to where they will reach out and help, this is a good situation. These officers know the kids’ names by heart and the kids know their names. Then we do a lot of community outreach at these temples.
We will come in and demonstrate our K9’s and, how they detect explosives, how they detect narcotics, we do a variety of things for community outreach so that even the congregation members can see that we have personable officers that will do whatever they need to do to protect your child’s life.
CEOCFO: How is business?
Mr. Aromando: Business is very good. We had our best year in 2020. And I believe we are poised for a successful 2021.
CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp-up as needed particularly as you pay a lot of attention to who you are hiring?
Mr. Aromando: We actually have in the years that we have been in business, been able to put together a pretty extensive global roster of individuals that have worked for us. We can call up as many as we need, we can scale down if we need, so when an emergency assignment comes up, let us just say storm, Sandy. When storm Sandy hit, we had 165 officers out there on the ground safe-guarding stores, buildings, and we even had flat-bottomed boats to be able to assist customers in either getting them out of a dangerous area or high-water rescue.
We have a mobile command center that is fully equipped with radio communications, cameras, chainsaws, generators and whatever is needed to get out there. With our mass notification APP, we can reach out to our people immediately when an emergency assignment comes up and receive responses within minutes of our people that are available to work this particular assignment.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us more about your global reach?
Mr. Aromando: Because of the global reach of one of our pharmaceutical clients, some that have operations in more than 150 countries, we were asked years back to start providing risk mitigation and protective services for them and from there it just escalated. We have representation in Davos, Switzerland so if you know about Davos, this is the site of the World Economic Forum meeting every year in January but not this year because of COVID. We actually have one of our risk mitigation agents living right there in Davos. We are ideally suited to be able to provide security situational awareness to any of those companies coming into Davos for the annual event.
It is the same thing with Spain. We have on staff an excellent array of active military and active federal police officers, that are available to us as we need them depending on the assignments. Obviously, there has not been a whole lot of travel for us because of COVID, but we expect our overseas activity to increase in the 3rd quarter 2021. It is the same thing in Bermuda where we have operations. We have operations in the UK and actually have moved an individual to the UK to head up the operations. He’s a former FBI agent that works for us and he is going to be heading up the UK operations.
CEOCFO: Why is K Street Group an important company?
Mr. Aromando: It is an important company because we do protect peoples’ most important assets. That is what is needed in this world whether we like that or not when a crisis hits or a natural disaster hits or anything to that effect. Let’s face it, our law enforcement is taxed to the limit and in a lot of situations people in need of those types of services look for someone to lead them out of the danger area and a lot of times they will come to a company like K Street.
We had an incident in 2020 where a client’s employee got on the public address system in a distribution center and was so disgusted because people would not wear masks that he said he was going to blow the whole place up. We got there with our canine unit before local police did. We then worked together with local police to screen the parking lot and the facility to make sure there were no explosives in the area. People look for that help and we provide it. We do pro bono work; Habitat for Humanity, we are doing an exhaustive investigation for them right now at no cost.
CEOCFO: Final thoughts?
Mr. Aromando: People in our industry or our customers and your readers, just need to be very cautious when they look to bring in services like ours. They need to be sure they are dealing with a company that is insured and more importantly deal with a company that is licensed. We have come across situations where a potential client may select a big-box provider simply because they have a very high level of general liability insurance—not because they’ll do a good job, but that their insurance coverage is high. We are more in a position to pay our people compensation and other rewards above industry average because this is where you eliminate and minimize the turnover and turnover in this industry is what these big box providers count on because it keeps their cost low, and by that, I mean they do not have to pay people much. If they only keep people four to eight weeks, no big deal because they have not invested a lot in them.
What we are also seeing in this industry is that there is a big consolidation of the big box companies, who is buying who and these mega structures that totally lose touch with what is happening on the ground and that is where our sweet spot is because any client of ours from the smallest to the largest can reach either myself or our CEO, Sergio Conde, anytime they want, anytime. To them, that is comfort because they do not have to deal with multilayers of people, organizational structures, people that do not answer phones. Every one of our clients has both of our cell phone numbers.
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