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Bringing a management view to security.

Cambridge Security Systems Corp., a relative newcomer to the contract security industry in the New York area, is nonetheless growing rapidly, expanding from a workforce of around 50 guards at its inception in 1990, to a force of over 250 to meet surging demand for their services.

Specializing in security and concierge services for condominiums, co-ops and rental buildings, Cambridge was recently awarded a contract to provide security services for Cooperative Village, a Lower East Side development consisting of four housing complexes and 4,500-units, as well as for the Gouverneur Gardens housing complex, bringing the total of families protected by the company on the Lower East Side alone to over 6,000.

In addition, Cambridge handles security patrols for three New York City Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), including Steinway Street in Queens, Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn and the Village Alliance in Greenwich Village. In addition, cambridge provides security for office buildings, shopping malls, parking garages, industrial plants, construction sites, medical facilities, hotels, religious institutions and schools.

Cambridge President Ethan H. Lazer is a graduate of Columbia University and New York University School of Law. He practiced law with the firm of Dreyer and Traub before becoming Vice President and General Counsel for the Lazer Group, a family-owned real estate development and management company. In addition, Lazar has conducted extensive research in international terrorism and security during his tenures at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Columbia University. Lazer became President of Cambridge Security Services Corp. in 1991.

"My family owned some property in the city and on Long Island and we had a small construction company and a small security company to service the needs of our properties," recalls Lazer of his introduction to the security business. He practiced real estate law prior to joining family business, but his study of terrorism and security while in college were still what interested him the most, and he saw the opportunity to incorporate this interest into the family business.

"We took over security in any building we were involved in for someone else, and I made contacts through industry through people I knew in property management who gave me a shot," he recalls. "I told them 'Give me a chance. I can do a better job.'"

Lazar's experience from an owner's and manager's perspective gained from the family business enabled him to better understand security needs from a client's point of view.

Cambridge Security Services Corp. (formerly Housing Security Services) has been providing quality guard and concierge services since 1984. Clients include publicly and privately held commercial enterprises, residential apartment developments, co-op and condo property, office buildings, government agencies, financial institutions, professional firms, manufacturers, retailers, utilities and individuals.

"We are involved in the broadest spectrum of industries, and while our client list is substantial, our concern is directed at providing each client with the focused attention it needs," Lazar says. "We are recognized in security and business circles as a significant and professional security firm with a reputation for excellence."

"Our personnel have come to us after years of 'hands-on' involvement in the security business or in government services or joined us directly from school or college," Lazar says. "Their backgrounds and credentials are as diverse as the needs of our clients. Our security network includes security directors and heads of major investigative units in the private and public sector. Our reputation for excellence continues to enable us to attract superior security and management talents."

The Cambridge/Client Relationship

Cambridge Security emphasizes individual involvement and managers who are personally committed to the interests of each client. In the case of most clients, one manager is responsible on an overall basis for the continuing relationship with the client. When the scope of a client's needs require the attention of more than one security specialist, or when its nature is such that personnel at more than one level of experience can produce the best results for the client, that manager will be responsible for assembling the most economical mix of personnel and specialists to attend to these needs. As a result, clients are assured, not only of access to appropriate expertise, but of personal continuity as well.

At Cambridge, the principal business is guard service. "We provide both military style uniformed and corporate attired security officers, as well as armed guards, K-9 and mobile patrols," Lazar says. "We provide security for all types of properties including multi-family housing, office buildings, construction sites, industrial plants, medical facilities, schools, religious institutions, hotels, shopping malls, parking garages, as well as business improvement districts and other public areas. Cambridge Security has also developed strong associations with interdisciplinary security groups."

Through these affiliations, Cambridge anticipates and serves clients' needs in highly specialized areas. Their access to experts in all areas of security enables us to respond to requests for: security audits, plant/facility inspections, systems design and installation, investigations, crisis management, secure product transportation, explosive detection and handling, executive protection, security management assessment, organizational design for security, and training for security.

Security Officer Selection and Training

Cambridge Security understands the security business and appreciates the central role which personnel play in the delivery of quality service. Their screening and hiring practices are designed to yield a human resource pool which is superior in both quantity and quality. "Consequently, we spend above industry average on training and compensation packages for our guards, but our clients are more satisfied," says Lazar.

All applicants must undergo extensive tests, including psychological, aptitude and drug screening. Each applicant's background, including prior employment, is then thoroughly reviewed using New York State and FBI fingerprint searches, as well as social security and driving record checks.

Once hired, new employees go through initial classroom training followed by specialized on the job training which is in full compliance with the New York State Security Guard Act of 1992. All Cambridge Security officers are required to return to the classroom each year to review procedures and continue their security education. New employees are assigned to experienced officers until such time as they are fully trained and prepared to deliver the superior level of service clients expect. Through this selection and training process, Cambridge Security has been successful in developing a core of security professionals around whom they rapidly build discrete cadres of guards for each client.

Cambridge draws its employees from areas that most companies usually overlook. For example, there are a myriad of trained NYC Police Department civilians who patrol the city's streets without any pay. These concerned persons want to help their communities and are known as the Auxiliary Police Force. Cambridge Security also has employees of great ability and experience who previously served with the New York City police force and on the police forces of foreign countries.


The key to providing consistent quality service is supervision. At Cambridge Security, supervision is a four-tier program consisting of site supervisors, field inspectors, account executives and the principals of the corporation. Such constant and intensive supervision ensures that guards remain well-trained and attentive to clients' needs.

"We're constantly checking on how they're doing," explains Lazar. "We want to be just as client-friendly when we're larger as we have been when we were small."

Cambridge operates a 24-hour command center which can immediately respond to changing client needs. Should a client need additional security at their plant or building; have an urgent need for secure transportation; or be confronted with any unforeseen security emergency, Cambridge has the organizational design and resources to respond at once. The command center also insures that all assignments are covered regardless of any event.

The key to the success of any company is client satisfaction. At Cambridge, the central reason for client satisfaction is the methods they use to manage the organization and their personnel. Cambridge's quality control process is exercised through the 24-Hour Command Center and a sophisticated inspection/audit system. The Command Center allows all guards and clients instant access to management staff at any time during the day or night. Such access enables Cambridge to respond immediately to any unexpected absenteeism or a need for additional security services.

The Command Center staff employs the following two-step process to insure post coverage: First, the current occupant of the post, or nearby security officer, is held in overtime without any additional cost to the client. Second, the Command Center immediately assigns a member of the ready reserve to respond at once and relieve the overtime security officer. This process satisfies clients, and develops confidence in security officers that relief help is nearby and overtime shifts will be of short duration.

All clients are assigned an "independent observer" as a contact person within the organization. This person is in routine contact with the client and provides the central management office with ongoing feedback regarding satisfaction with service. A second level which insures quality service are supervisors who conduct site inspections, particularly during off hours, to insure attentive, courteous and professional service. The roving inspectors are also authorized to take summary action in cases where guards need to be disciplined and even replaced by a member of their reserve corps.

"We have always been very people-oriented," explains Lazar. "We don't attempt to pass ourselves off as electronic security experts. While we do oversee such services, we bring in companies that we believe are the best in the field to supply and install electronics systems. We find we're better off doing exactly what we do - providing security guards."

Other key Cambridge officers include Executive Vice President Stanley J. Czwakiel, who has 15 years' experience in the private security field. He has an extensive background in Personnel and Operations. He was Director of Operations for a New Jersey-based security company which has over forty accounts and more than 300 employees. Czwakiel was successful in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company and was the liaison for the largest accounts. A few of these clients included the State of New Jersey, National Westminster Bank and Leisure Village.

Vice President/Director of Operations Barry L. Kinard has 15 years of both military and security experience. During this time he has been responsible for establishing security systems for major corporations and housing complexes in the greater New York City area. Kinard oversees the daily operations of Cambridge Security, including the hiring and scheduling of over 150 employees. In addition to being the company Gun Custodian, Kinard is also an expert K-9 trainer and handler.

Board of Director/Consultant Louis Galetta has 36 years experience with the NYC Police Department, having served and commanded patrol and investigative units before retiring as a captain in 1991. He also served as the Corporate Security Manager for the Daily News, in charge of security at five Daily News facilities.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus on Management & Maintenance; Cambridge Security Services Corp. President Ethan H. Lazar
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 25, 1995
Previous Article:Building owners expect excellence from property managers.
Next Article:Managing and maintaining through a redevelopment.

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