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Coors brews security success.

In the spring of 1957, Adolph Coors III, an heir to the Adolph Coors Company fortune, was kidnapped and murdered. This event led to the creation of the security department at Coors.

While the formation of the department itself was based on a response to a crisis, the way the department operates is just the opposite. The philosophy is proactive rather than reactive.

Employee programs that raise awareness at work and at home, coupled with an emphasis on open communication, are the key, says David Floyd, CPP, Coors's director of security since 1986. He notes that in the past few years, "Our crime rates are down. Our recovery rates are up."

Floyd, who joined Coors as an investigator in 1976, notes that the corporate culture is influenced by its family ownership structure. "This is a family-owned and operated company. So if you're an employee at Coors, you're part of the Coors family. Security's mission is to provide a safe and secure workplace for all employees."

The Coors network includes its major business, the Coors Brewing Company, and other subsidiary companies, including a ceramics manufacturer and a computer chip manufacturer. Floyd is responsible for security at all the facilities, which employ approximately 10,000 persons who work in Colorado and hundreds of others in plants and companies throughout the world, from Brazil to Korea.

The majority of the brewery facilities are concentrated in Golden, CO, and Floyd has an annual security budget of $2.1 million and a staff of 35 for those operations. That number includes patrol officers who are uniformed and armed; four communication technicians; four investigators; and four security representatives, who have become the cornerstone of the security program.

Security is different here than at other large facilities. Its uniqueness is apparent by the lack of guard posts and gates. "There are no check points," says Floyd. "This is an open campus. "|Because Coors is~ a family-owned company, they don't believe in the philosophy of locking it down like Fort Knox," explains the chief of security.

Floyd likens the compound to a small city. It extends five miles up and down the valley and includes 26 miles of train tracks. Company vehicles and employees drive a combined average of 21,000 miles a day on the property. "We actually run it more like a police department than a security operation." he says.

Security at the 119-year-old company includes everything from key issuance to access control to crime scene investigations to hazardous material response. The Colorado facility does not use any CCTV; the plant is old and spread out and does not lend itself to that technology. The primary access controls are card readers for building access at night and on weekends and hundreds of alarms. In addition, all employee and company vehicles have identification stickers.

One way to secure a company this diverse and spread out is by working closely with local law enforcement. Floyd has cultivated this relationship carefully. "We can call law enforcement in almost any major city in the United States, find somebody we know, and get assistance in working together to take care of whatever needs we have," he says.

"We've investigated white-collar crime involving independently owned distributorships," he continues, "and we did an extensive undercover narcotics operation with the Virginia State which the undercover agent was one of our people."

The investigative team, led by John Bennett, is also responsible for executive protection. In a company like Coors, executive protection means guarding the prominent and highly publicized Coors family. Some members of the family work at the Golden facility, and most live in the area. "They all have security systems in their homes and we provide plainclothes protection when necessary," Floyd says. "The family members don't want to live a caged life," he explains, "but they are well-known."

Floyd says that the three biggest security problems at Coors are drugs, white-collar crime, and petty theft--in that order. The company does preemployment checks, criminal history checks, preemployment urinalysis, and verification of application information to help keep these problems from creeping into the workplace.

The fact that nonsecurity employees can drink beer in designated lunchrooms at work--during two daily breaks and lunch--also poses a potential problem for security. "We have very little problem with |employees drinking too much~," says Floyd, "We've educated the work force to drink responsibly." Although Floyd admits he would like to see the policy modified, it has been in force since the company was founded in 1873.

And, since beer is a seasonal commodity, from April through Labor Day, Coors hires approximately 1,000 temporary employees. That nonpermanent labor pool presents problems with transient employees who do not harbor any particular loyalty to the company.

AT THE CENTER OF COORS'S SECURITY IS the Security Representative Program. The program was started in 1990 to get security in touch with the employees and, says Floyd, to "put us out there in the field in a less threatening mode than the uniform and gun projects." So far, "It's been a roaring success."

Security representatives start out as security officers. They must have at least six years of law enforcement or security experience, although a college degree may reduce that requirement. After an initial 90-day orientation training program there is ongoing training, including intensive weapons training.

Security at Coors extends to providing all employees with security awareness and education programs that they can use at work and at home. All of this is part of the Security Representative Program. Say, for instance, an employee is concerned about drugs in school or wants to install a home security system. He or she can talk to a security representative, who will gather information on the topic or perhaps organize a class, guest speaker, videotape, or printed materials if interest warrants.

"You can't take care of 10,000 employees with an iron fist," Floyd notes. Approximately 80 percent of Coors employees are manufacturing personnel, the remaining 20 percent office and management personnel. "It disappoints me when I see other security operations that project this tough, hard-core attitude. You put a little care and attention in the right area and employees will like dealing with security a lot better," he says.

"We have seminars and classes about how to secure your home, how to secure your Christmas presents at Christmas time. We have a seminar on rape prevention for our employees' daughters who are going off to college," Floyd says. "Our philosophy is if it will raise your awareness about security in your home--where your mind is except for the eight hours a day you're at work--it's going to spill over to this place. And it's really worked." In fact, reporting of theft was up 91 percent from 1990 to 1991, and the recovery rate for that period was up 327 percent.

Security works best in an atmosphere of mutual trust between the company's employees and the security staff. Floyd recalls that such a relationship did not exist when he first joined the company in the mid 1980s. "Nobody trusted security," he says. "I remember going into a big lunchroom and nobody would talk to me. So over the years we've worked real hard in trying to develop that trust and rapport with employees."

To encourage the proper attitude in the security department, all Coors employees are referred to as customers. "Anything that the customers are interested in, we go out, research it, and develop a program and present it," says Charlie Blalock, education and training supervisor in charge of the Security Representative Program. For example, a drug awareness program was developed for employees to share with their families that included video and print materials. These programs are available to all Coors companies.

When Floyd became security director, he realized the security department needed an image boost. That's where Blalock came in. He took the idea of the "beat cop"--who knew everything about the community he or she worked in--and applied it to the security department at Coors.

"We looked at the centers of the most population," Blalock says, "the Coors Engineering Center, the Brewery Office Complex, and the North Office Building. The North Office Building was the first to get a security representative." The representative is a nonuniformed, armed individual who acts as a liaison to everyone in his or her area.

Each security representative selects a specialty. For example, Everett Oliver, who is the representative assigned to the North Office Building, chose media communications. He works with The Courier, the company newspaper, and other groups within Coors to promote the image of the company and security department. Sandra Justice chose outreach programs as her specialty; she is not assigned to one particular building. Ernie Howard is stationed in the Brewery Office Complex, and his specialty is crime prevention. And Jeff Jenkins, in the Coors Engineering Center, concentrates on extending security services into the sales force, particularly working on how to market these services to Coors's employees across the country in the different sales regions.

In the beginning, "It was kind of a two-edged sword," Blalock remembers. "We found out a lot of things were going on that we didn't know were going on. So the first year, in 1990, our reporting rate went sky high. It looked like we had been hit by a crime wave."

In actuality, all the incidents that were not being reported before were now being reported because employees had an outlet they felt comfortable with. They could approach and talk to the security representatives about what was going on in their area.

In addition to taking reports, fielding questions, and developing programs on topics like sexual harassment, drug abuse, gangs, and employee theft, the representatives also help develop other awareness programs.

For example, Oliver developed the Office Watch Program, which is similar to the Neighborhood Watch concept. In the year since the program was implemented, 317 people have become involved. Each security officer and representative is an office watch leader for an assigned area. He or she has monthly meetings with the employees in that area who have signed up for office watch.

Employees who participate in office watch take classes and learn what to look for and how to spot suspicious people. They discuss problems in their areas and possible solutions.

An office watch newsletter helps employees in one office know what is going on elsewhere. For example, in the past, if purses were being stolen in an office, employees may have thought they were the only ones with the problem. But with the newsletter, employees can find out that the same incident is happening over at Microlithics, another Coors company.

"You start to wonder," Blalock says. "Maybe it's the same person. You begin to see patterns and things fall together. It's like a little intelligence network," he explains.

SANDRA JUSTICE HAS DEVELOPED A global paging system to notify hearing impaired and other employees of emergency or evacuation situations. In her dealings with employees throughout Coors, Justice discovered that a number of employees who were hearing impaired were left out of the loop in emergencies.

She came up with the system of using vibrating pagers. In case of a fire, flood, hazardous material spill, or other emergency, a five-digit code appears on the pager. A card listing all the codes accompanies the pager. As soon as the dispatcher knows the problem, she enters the phone number that activates a code on all the pagers. "Everybody gets the same codes," Justice says, "and people can make their own decisions." For example, the code "02181" tells each recipient that the situation is occurring in the North Office Building (02); that the situation is controlled, continue working (1); and that the nature of the situation is a minor fire under control (81).

Since crucial time had been lost in the past in attempts to contact individuals directly, the pager idea spread quickly beyond employees who were hearing impaired. Executives and managers asked to be included in the system. The environmental control department--similar to an internal Environmental Protection Agency--was especially interested. They monitor incidents like chemical releases and are responsible for reporting problems to the appropriate government agency.

Justice says, "If they are in a meeting downtown and something happens in their building, it would be nice not to come back to a serious problem.... It's real nice if they can look at the pager, see a level one, and know they can stay in their meeting and not worry."

Evacuations are not common, but in a facility the size of Coors all precautions are taken. The security department has several mock disaster drills each year that include law enforcement, ambulance services, helicopters, and hospitals. The paging system is tested weekly.

Another security problem Justice took on involved gangs. She recalls, "A parent came to me and said, 'I'm worried about my kid because he's wearing a lot of Chicago Bulls clothing. (The wearing of certain sports apparel is sometimes associated with gangs.) The mouth on him would scare a sailor, and I don't want anything to happen to him.' I didn't know what to tell her." So Justice called the gang unit at the Denver police department, and it came to the plant for a public service program.

Justice carried the idea further, participating in training and education programs about gangs with the police department. In a sense, she became an expert on the topic and now gives the presentations to all employees.

Employees with questions and concerns about crime prevention can go to Ernie Howard, who works closely with employees who want advice on protecting themselves, their families, and their homes. "If they're building a new home and they want an alarm system, they can consult with him," Blalock says. He'll supply the information. "If someone wants to know about locks--what kind are available, are all locks the same--he has the ability to advise them."

CURRENTLY THE REPRESENTATIVE program is restricted to the most populous areas in the Coors complex. Plans are underway, however, to extend the program to the off-hour shifts and outlying areas, including outside the Golden headquarters, where employees may feel left out. Expansion is all part of Jeff Jenkins' agenda.

Employees at other locations "don't come to Golden every day. They go to work in Atlanta or wherever they live. They're still Coors employees, but they don't have that close association with the brewery," explains Blalock.

Jenkins' job is to work with the sales and marketing staff who are in the field and figure out ways to communicate with nonheadquarters employees. Since these employees have the same problems and concerns that employees in Golden have, they should have the same advantages and resources.

Security representatives have begun to reach out to nonheadquarters employees by taking their show on the road. The security department works closely with other human resources divisions to provide these programs. "We just completed a tour of all the sales regions doing a program on stress and how that relates to substance abuse and alcohol abuse," says Blalock.

By taking the drug awareness program to these facilities, Blalock and the other representatives have realized how much the employees appreciate the attention. On every awareness program trip, "I always get a request for more videotapes to be sent back for employees to share with their families," he says.

Blalock recalls a telephone call he received from a woman whose daughter had been on a school sports trip out of town where one of her teammates had been raped. "It shook me up because they didn't call the cops. They didn't call the minister. They didn't call anybody but me."

In this instance, Blalock put the woman in touch with a rape crisis center and the police. When it was all over, he asked the woman why she called him when the victim was not even related to an employee. She explained that in a meeting one day Blalock had said that 'if you don't know who to call or what to do, call the security department and we'll find out for you.' "And that's exactly what she did," he adds.

The program had its problems in the beginning. One major stumbling block was that employees thought the representatives could discuss anything without further action being taken. "We ran into a problem right off the bat when someone walked into a security representative's office and said. 'Look, I'm going to tell you something but you can't tell anybody.' And the security representative said, 'Okay.' It turned out the individual was being sexually harassed. We learned the hard way you cannot promise that |you won't say anything~," Blalock says.

Now, the representative says, "Look, I'm an agent of the company. I have to tell somebody. Do you still want to talk?" The person must also be willing to go forward and pursue a solution.

The biggest benefit of the program, says Blalock, is that employees have an outlet for information. In the past, events went unreported. Individuals sometimes simply got frustrated and left the company. "If you have a happy employee, you have a productive employee," says Blalock. "If an employee has a problem at home or in the workplace, it affects them. Their mind isn't on their work."

Now a more satisfying result can be achieved. "That's what the representative program is all about," Blalock says. "All we want to do is give the customer |the employee~ a sense of safety and security so they're more productive. They benefit. The company benefits. Everybody wins."

Caroline Wilson is staff editor at Security Management.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Adolph Coors Co.'s security department
Author:Wilson, Caroline
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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