Swedish Peter Daniel Holtsjo moved to Thailand in July 2012 to take over the position of Country President of Securitas (Thailand). Daniel’s goal is for Securitas (Thailand) to improve the level of professionalism and perception of security in Thailand while concurrently growing the company to be a market leader in the Thai security service industry.
After leaving the Swedish Army, Daniel Holtsjo joined Securitas in Stokholm. Daniel started off as a security guard and over his 17 years plus career was promoted to the positions of supervisor, inspector, branch manager and senior management. “I came from a military police background and joined Securitas as a security guard and worked my way up within the company. A lot of Securitas managers have started off as guards so they know the business from the ground up and understand the duties and appreciate the hardships of our security guards. Additionally Securitas believes promoting from within gives its employees a chance to grow with the company,” says Daniel.
In 2008 Daniel was selected as Country President of Securitas (China) where he set up the company in Shanghai as Securitas’ initial footprint in Asia. After three years as Country President for Securitas China, Daniel was selected to be Country President for Securitas Thailand.
Daniel’s initial perception of the Thai security industry is that it appears security guarding has a poor perception here; it is not seen as a respectable profession. Much of these perceptions are a direct result of a lack of proper training and poor compensation for security guards. “We are going to change this,” says Daniel. “If we want security officers to be professional we owe it to them to give them the proper training and respectable wages for the long hours they put in.”
Securitas was founded in 1934 in Sweden. The company provides a wide range of security services such as guarding, executive protection, security consultancy and security and safety related training to meet individual customer needs. Securitas also offers security systems which include cameras, access controls, and entry and fire alarm systems. In 1999, Securitas acquired the first (and oldest) professional security company in the world – the American based “Pinkerton” company which was originally established in 1850, adding significantly to Securitas’ experience, capabilities, and customer base. After eighty years, Securitas is a global security market leader with over 300,000 employees worldwide. In Asia, Securitas currently operates out of eight countries including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
Professional security services
In Sweden, security companies are required to apply for a license and fulfill a minimum requirement to operate the business. In Thailand, anyone could start a security company tomorrow if they wanted to. Daniel says Securitas aims to work with the Thai government to set a minimum standard for the industry, where it aims to push for legal requirements, appropriate certifications, and appropriate wages for security guards. “We have the responsibility to help perform at the same professional standards in Thailand as we do in Europe and in the US,” says Daniel. The proposal for new legislation for security businesses has been in the parliament for a couple of years but it hasn’t been approved as a law yet. There remain positive signals that it will happen in the future.
Established in 2008, Securitas Thailand employs over 1,700 staff spread over nine branches around the country. “Our goal is to leverage Securitas’ global experience and capabilities throughout Thailand,” says Daniel.
The company has already grown to include a long list of high profile clients from various industries. For the hospitality industry, Securitas’ clients include some of the leading international hotel brands such as the Minor Group’s Marriott, Four Seasons, and Anantara resorts; as well as the Kempinski, Amari, Holiday Inn, and Hard Rock Hotel. It also has prominent clients in other industries such as Caterpillar, CISCO, BMW, NIST, Singaporean School, AIT and BFS (Bangkok Flight Services). Scandinavian Electrolux and Tetra Pack are also among its clients. “We have international clients from Europe and the US that expect the same level of security services and professionalism here in Thailand,” says Daniel.
Recruitment pool and training
Daniel says Securitas is trying to change the industry from within now using the Thai military as one of its primary recruitment bases. Securitas Thailand has also identified elite security positions which it fills with exiting Thai Army Rangers and Special Forces. “Using former Thai military personnel benefits Securitas in many ways. They not only bring special security skills sets because they are well-trained, but they are all self-motivated and possess high levels of discipline.” In an emergency situation, when our customers’ staff flee from danger, our security officers are trained to not only run to it, but then to handle the emergency situation itself,” says Daniel.
Introducing a mobile patrol service – the cost-effective approach
One specific application of ex-Thai Rangers is there use as mobile patrols. In April 2012, Securitas Thailand introduced a mobile patrol service for clients that may not have a budget to have security guards onsite for 24 hours every day. With this service, the mobile guards patrol clients’ facilities and areas 2-3 times a night to make sure that everything is locked and safe and/or to assist guards on the site. In the event of an alarm activation or emergency situation, the mobile patrol team responds quickly to the client location. “This is something new in Thailand. It’s a modern and cost-effective solution already well developed in Europe.
Changing the perception of security jobs in Thailand
Though the company has extensive global experience in the security industry, Daniel says it’s a challenge to change the perceived status of security careers in Thailand. Utilizing ex-army and special Thai forces personnel is a start. However another change has to be in the area of compensation, he says. “In the past, prior to 1 April 2012, security officer wages were very low. Security officers had to sometimes work another job or constantly put in for overtime just to meet their family’s financial responsibilities. This resulted in a guard who was tired, not alert, and all this contributed to the poor perception of the security industry. If security guards are working 24 hours a day, it’s impossible to provide a professional service to clients,” says Daniel.
With the 1 April 2012 government mandated wage increases, and the second round of wage increases coming on 1 January 2013, security officers are now in a position where they receive proper wages to meet their needs without having to work another job. They now are in a position to take pride in doing their primary job. And because of the higher wages, we are now in a position to be very selective in who we hire to wear the Securitas Uniform. This is a win for our company and a win for our security guards; however it has come at a greater cost to our customers. When wages are increased so to must our contracted rates for security services. “We don’t aim to make high profits here. The majority of income goes directly to pay our security officers’ wages,” says Daniel.
In order to service clients more effectively, a professional security approach is crucial. Daniel says that the company aims to be the most professional security service provider in the industry. “Someone has to take the lead and show that security is a needed profession and one to be proud of. We aspire for the position in Thailand and in every country where we operate,” he adds.