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Founder takes security firm to the top.

Founder takes security firm to the top

Gary Boyer never dreamed that he would be receiving the 1990 Northern Ontario Business award for Executive of the Year, even though he fits the bill perfectly.

In order to be considered for the award, which is sponsored by Air Ontario, nominees must display leadership and ingenuity and have a record of success in business.

Boyer is owner, president and chief executive officer of Apex Investigation and Security of Thunder Bay, an industry leader in northwestern Ontario.

Sales at Apex have increased 57.5 per cent during the past two years, continuing an eight-year period of growth which has seen sales climb 455 per cent.

The size of the staff at Apex has increased 49 per cent during the past three years, and the company now has an annual payroll of $2 million.

According to Apex, return on investment for the 1988/89 fiscal year was 25.5 per cent.

The company's client list in Thunder Bay includes five of the area's six shopping malls, four of the area's five hospitals, all three Abitibi-Price mill sites and all major hotels, including the Valhalla, the Airlane and the Red Oak Inn.

Apex also supplies investigation services for the majority of insurance adjusters and law offices in Thunder Bay, as well as for out-of-town clients such as the Workers' Compensation Board.

Boyer's vision when he started the firm in 1977 was to advance Apex to become the leading security and investigations firm in northwestern Ontario. Not only has Boyer's vision been realized, according to the company's sales and number of employees, but Apex is now considered one of the leading independent security firms in the province, as well.

Boyer regards dedication to customer service as the main factor leading to his company's success.

According to Boyer, "Service, service, service, and when that's done, service the client even more," is the firm's motto.

Because Boyer lacks a business education, he attributes much of his success to a willingness to ask for advice and to listen to those more experienced than himself.

It is his lack of a formal business education that Boyer considers his greatest challenge in business.

"Not really knowing anything about day-to-day business practices prior to starting, the greatest challenges come when having to make normal, every-day business decisions such as what to do when you have to increase your staff or what to do when the company's sales grow," says Boyer.

Again, to overcome these problems Boyer sought the advice of successful business people who were willing to act as his mentors.

"I overcame my initial problems by listening to others," he says.

Boyer also attributes the success of his business to the friendly rapport that he and his clients maintain.

"Customers are not just customers: it is a partnership," he says.

With a reputation for personal integrity and client-focused business practices, Boyer has been able to steadily gain clients that, in his words, are the chief assets of his operation.

Explaining that he goes through his card index every 60 days and calls each client personally "just to see if everything is OK, or if they have any further requirements or comments," Boyer insists that "if you divorce yourself from your clients, you'll lose."

The desire to be first is the overall ambition of the company, and Boyer insists that not only are the clients aware of this, but the entire staff as well.

Boyer believes in investing in quality staff and building a stable company.

"I have good people around me. Good staff backed up by good management," he says.

Boyer's strongly held belief in team building has enhanced what appears to be a natural ability to attract and retain talented and dedicated staff.

Boyer reports that he often recruits personnel based more on their values and displayed common sense, rather than their formal education or experience. Looking for "team players" with the ability to learn on the job, Boyer encourages employees to develop their individual skills and knowledge by continuing their education and attending seminars.

In an effort to better train and prepare his staff to meet day-to-day challenges and to further develop their individual job marketability, Boyer has embarked on an extensive training program.

Working in close co-operation with law and security program officials of Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Boyer designed a security guard training program to meet national standards for security officers.

All Apex security officers must attend the program, which is also available to the public through Confederation College.

"Training is so critical, you simply can't train staff enough. Security can't be taken lightly, because it is not an incidental expenditure" says Boyer.

The program developed by Boyer is also available at other community colleges starting this fall.

In addition, from 1986 through 1989 Boyer's staff were required to attend the Northwest Enterprise Centre as a team to learn entrepreneurial and management skills.

Senior employees are encouraged to further develop themselves through networking and community involvement.

Boyer encourages such activities, believing that they also promote the company.

Boyer has been a director of the Rotary Club, president of the Thunder Bay Executive Club, a director of the John Howard Society, a director of the Purchasing Management Association, president of the Thunder Bay Training Association and a founding member and past director of Thunder Bay Crime Stoppers.

Boyer launched Apex Investigation and Security in 1977 with the $5,000 he received from selling off most of his possessions.

At that time the company's staff included Boyer, a partner, one private investigator and a single security guard.

Sales for the first year were approximately $67,000.

In 1979 Boyer became the sole owner of the company, and he remains the sole owner today.

Despite the national recession which hit Canada during 1982, Apex managed to exceed its profit projections and increased its staff to approximately 60 security officers.

"It was during the '82 recession that I received my greatest education," recalls Boyer.

In 1984 Apex realized $1 million in sales.

In 1986 Apex further increased its staff to more than 100 people, including security guards, two administrative staff members and three private investigators.

It was in 1989, when Apex had $2 million in sales, that Boyer found it necessary to move his company to larger quarters.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards Thunder Bay 1990; Apex Investigation and Security Owner Gary Boyer, Executive of the Year
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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