Leadership is the cornerstone of any organization’s image and success. At Blackstone Security Services, Inc., that leadership is provided by President & CEO Dan Swindall.
Dan knew when he was 12 years old that he wanted to own his own company, but he had to wait until after a tour of military service in England before he developed the skills that determined the type of business he would own, and gained the historical perspective that gave the company its name.
The Arizona native has more than 25 years of security experience that began with a five-year stint as a security officer in the U.S. Air Force. After his honorable discharge in 1982, Dan signed on with the Tatt Companies, an international security firm that later became Pedus Services, Inc.
Dan’s first assignment with Tatt was as Nuclear Security Division Commander at the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, the nation’s largest nuclear generating station, in Tonopah about 50 miles west of Phoenix. As division commander at Palo Verde, Dan was in charge of training, scheduling, coordination and compliance for 60 security personnel. It was Dan’s responsibility to make sure the plant’s security was up to standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC inspectors found no security deficiencies on Dan’s watch.
His next position with Tatt was Field Supervisor, where Dan trained and managed security guards throughout the Phoenix metro area and conducted site inspections to ensure that security personnel followed company and client policies and procedures.
Dan’s next assignment with Tatt was Corporate Training Coordinator, responsible for all security personnel for regional offices companywide. He also oversaw the preparation of training materials for various sites as requested.
Dan eventually was promoted to Vice President of Sales & Marketing with Tatt/Pedus Services. Dan supervised all sales and marketing efforts in the western United States, including sales training and tracking the efforts of sales staff.
This progression of responsibilities gave Dan an inside look at the good, the bad and the ugly of operating a security company.
Then, using the experience and knowledge gained from his military service and 10 years with Tatt, Dan combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his marketing acumen in the early 1990’s. That’s when he determined there was a need for a full-service security company that provided quality services to clients and took care of its employees.
Dan put together a unique business model based on employees and service instead of bureaucracy. True to his leadership style, Dan built a company that is casual, easygoing and very efficient. Dan specializes in recognizing quality employees and motivating them to exemplify Blackstone’s core values: honesty, integrity, dependability, compatibility and service. Employees have personalities and so do clients. Dan is astute enough to know that each employee assignment should mirror the client’s individual personality and needs. Blackstone caters to a diversified client base whose needs range from watching over high school students on an interstate field trip to securing resort properties and construction sites.
Dan takes none of his success for granted. He is constantly absorbing information from numerous national and international sources on developments, incidents and techniques to stay in the forefront of the security industry. He passes on this information to employees, with the client being the ultimate beneficiary. Dan also educates prospective clients who may not even realize they need security or the number of services a quality security company can provide.
According to Dan, education and supervision are paramount to customer satisfaction in the security industry. The secret to Blackstone’s success is in the people who work there.
You can depend on Dan to provide prompt, reliable service based on serious core values that are exemplified by Blackstone’s satisfied employees.
The name “Blackstone” was chosen by Dan to honor Sir William Blackstone, an eighteenth century judge who was the first to write down the law and who became the first law professor at England’s Oxford University.
Dan’s perspective is that no matter what the assignment, you want to know you are getting the utmost in professionalism and service from your security company, and that is the Blackstone Edge.
Blackstone Security Services was born.
Jeanne Croft’s colleagues at Blackstone Security Services, Inc. describe her as a Type A personality who is a problem-solver, conscientious, tenacious and very organized. She is the catalyst that keeps company representatives on task, on time and on the mark when it comes to fulfilling contract requirements in accordance with Blackstone’s quality standards.
Personalities at Blackstone are as varied as our client base. Jeanne unites these personalities behind the singular purpose of your satisfaction.
Jeanne is a perfect example of our willingness to go outside the security industry to strengthen our management team by recruiting someone with direct knowledge and insight into the security needs of potential clients while improving our overall operations.
Blackstone’s increase in business and client satisfaction is directly attributable to Jeanne’s work ethic and her attention to detail. It’s Jeanne’s job to ensure your satisfaction by conducting periodic audits of all your facilities regarding updates of post orders and quality assurance surveys. She also meticulously records all your requests and the resolution of those requests.
Jeanne’s success in building new business and retaining satisfied clients is the result of 20 years’ experience working in industries that need on-site security services, arming the South Dakota native with inside knowledge concerning your security needs before she contacts you. She brought with her an awareness of the security needs and issues of clients, such as commercial property management companies, when she joined Blackstone in 2004.
Jeanne’s wealth of experience began as Assistant Property Manager for Tower Realty. Her problem solving and client relation skills developed rapidly after she assumed responsibility for tenant improvement build-outs. This assignment required Jeanne to satisfy the needs of tenants, contractors and vendors. She also tracked construction budgets, handled accounts receivables and payables, and prepared annual property budgets.
Her early success with Tower Realty soon landed her a promotion to Renovation and Construction Coordinator where she managed $10 million in construction renovations while handling public relations and client relations throughout the construction phase.
Just prior to joining Blackstone, Jeanne worked for Carter Companies, a commercial real estate development firm in Arizona, where her duties went far beyond her title of Office Manager. At Carter Companies, Jeanne further honed her client relations skills by dealing with contractors involved in the construction and development of office buildings. She also prepared project bid specifications and was the primary communication link for leasing agents, the developer and tenants.
Jeanne is a big reason why the secret to Blackstone’s success is in its people.
Ken Vandiver’s six years of experience in the security industry is built on a solid foundation of law enforcement that includes field experience, leadership, tactical training and administration. He has put in long hours in the classroom and on the street.
As Director of Operations for Blackstone, Ken oversees about 300 security personnel and is responsible for scheduling, billing, settling client conflicts, dispatch and hiring among other duties.
A Texas native, Ken founded his own company and was an entrepreneur for 16 years prior to becoming a law enforcement officer in Missouri. During that time he became well acquainted with the importance of good customer service, loss prevention and security.
During his years as a sheriff’s deputy in Cass County, MO, Ken received experience in a variety of areas. His duties included service as a Road Officer, a Field Training Officer, A SWAT team member, a Sniper, an Expert Witness during court appearances, and Report Writing.
Ken’s discipline, dedication to duty and attention to detail make him the quintessential prototype for a security manager and a role model for everyone he supervises. His training and supervisory experience enable Ken to analyze employee performance and initiate corrective measures in a timely and efficient manner.
His communication and organizational skills make Ken a valuable asset when addressing clients’ concerns as well as staff issues. Ken has consistently demonstrated an ability to remain calm in the face of critical situations and get the job done, whatever that may require. Ken dispenses praise when it is earned. He also has the ability to discipline employees and represent client concerns in difficult situations, while gaining the respect and cooperation of both.
Ken always conducts himself in a professional manner while making sure client concerns are promptly addressed and their needs are met.
As the Director of Operations, Ken Vandiver personifies the Blackstone Edge.
Human Resources Manager Mitzi Hagan is the microscope under which all aspiring Blackstone employees must pass. Her ability to recognize candidates with the “right stuff” stems from 18 years of service in the security industry, during which time she has screened thousands of security personnel while managing the human resources and administrative operations for regional and international security companies.
Mitzi’s hands-on approach to her job includes interviewing, orientation, training scheduling and assisting with site placement. She helps employees maintain high levels of effectiveness with counseling, promotions, pay raises and disciplinary actions. She is adept at performing thorough background investigations of all applicants to verify their compliance with federal and state regulations.
Mitzi’s comprehensive knowledge of the nuts-and-bolts of security operations has made her an invaluable member of Blackstone’s management team since she joined the company in 2004.
The security business is such a specialized industry in Arizona that good people follow good people, and previous employees constantly seek out Mitzi because they know the organizations she represents deliver great client services and provide positive, structured work environments.
Under Mitzi’s guidance, Blackstone security personnel receive training that is interactive and exceeds the curriculum content set forth in guidelines established by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. She is able to initiate these levels of quality because of the flexibility allowed by Blackstone. Unlike the cattle calls issued by corporate giants in assigning personnel, Blackstone’s compatibility policy allows Mitzi to select training programs and recommend assignments on a personalized basis.
Mitzi’s career began in 1988 with international security giant Pedus Services, Inc., where she handled all company communications and supervised the deployment of personnel. She also served as the company liaison with clients and law enforcement agencies.
She then moved on to Burns International Security/Securitas as administrative manager in 1994, where she handled payroll and billing and coordinated the maintenance of all equipment and vehicles. Worker’s compensation and unemployment claims also were Mitzi’s responsibility, as were yearly audits of all contract employee contracts and files. She also arranged training programs to keep employees current on policies, procedures and system upgrades.
The Virginia native performed similar services for Vigilant Integrated Services in 2001. Behind every good company, there are unseen people who are dedicated to that company’s efficient operation. At Blackstone Security Services, Mitzi Hagan is one of those people.
When Blackstone Security decided to expand across state lines into New Mexico, Shana Kohlman rose to the top of the candidate list as a leader with the pioneering spirit and insight that would help the company establish new territory in the security industry.
Demographically, it made great sense for Blackstone to expand into New Mexico. Large domestic and foreign companies are moving into New Mexico to take advantage of comparatively inexpensive land. Movie studios have also increased filming there. Add to that the fact that New Mexico ranks third in the nation in crime, including property crimes and identity theft; it is an ideal time for Blackstone to extend its operations there and grow with other corporations.
As the Branch Manager based in Albuquerque, Shana is responsible for the full spectrum of managerial responsibilities including hiring, training, client relations, community outreach, billing, payroll and even some public relations.
The New Mexico native brings a solid background in law enforcement and corrections to Blackstone. Shana’s work in the security industry dates back to her days as a student at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) where she earned extra money working part-time for campus security.
Shana worked as a police officer in Trinidad, Colorado before moving on to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison company specializing in housing prisoners from various states. As a lieutenant with CCA, Shana transferred to Arizona and served as an Assistant Shift Supervisor and Trainer responsible for more than 60 employees and more than 1,000 inmates. Her areas of training included chemical and inflammatory agents, policy, procedures and Arizona Law.
Shana is a survivor and earned her spurs the hard way. While employed with CCA, she and a fellow corrections officer suffered serious injuries in one of the worst riots in Arizona corrections history. Shana’s ability to bounce back from that horrific experience is indicative of the resilience and drive that make her the ideal candidate to lead Blackstone’s New Mexico operations. Her experience in New Mexico also gives her the understanding of local attitudes and social issues. The owner of an Associate’s Degree from Trinidad Junior College in Colorado and a Bachelor’s Degree from ENMU, Shana’s communication skills are critical to establishing trust with potential clients. She regularly attends local meetings and networking opportunities.
Attention to detail, thoroughness, a vigorous training regimen, ethical behavior and communication skills are qualities that Shana lives by, and she personifies the very qualities that distinguish Blackstone from the competition.
The appointment of Vanessa Polanco as the District Manager of Blackstone’s newest expansion office in El Paso represents another hiring coup by Blackstone President & CEO Dan Swindall. An El Paso native, Vanessa personifies Blackstone’s policy of hiring established, involved local residents who know the character of their community and its security needs.
Vanessa is a seasoned security veteran with 12 years of professional experience in Texas and New Mexico. She earned positions of increasing responsibility with four state and national security companies before joining Blackstone. She has stood watch as a guard and served as a security supervisor for an impressive list of clients such as Western Refinery, MCI/Verizon, Lockheed Martin, GC Services Communications and Automatic Data Processing Corp. Vanessa supervised more than 100 security employees as an Operations Manager in the El Paso/Midland metropolitan areas of Texas as well as in Las Cruces, Hobbs and Antigua, N.M. She has also handled assignments at the El Paso Health Department; the Chase Bank and El Paso Credit Union; the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Corrections Department.
Vanessa has handled a number of administrative responsibilities including customer service, site supervision, employee relations and human resources. She coordinated the establishment of a satellite security office in Midland for a previous employer. She has recruited and trained security officers on a variety of hostile and sensitive situations encountered in the field.
Vanessa is a graduate of Clint High School in El Paso and completed the Security Officers Training Program at El Paso Community College where she also earned an Applied Associates Degree in Business Office Administration.
Vanessa gives Blackstone a strong presence in the El Paso community. She was recently appointed to the El Paso Child Crisis Board. Vanessa also serves as a board member for the La Posada Home, which provides transitional/permanent long-term emergency housing in El Paso for homeless families and for victims of domestic violence and their children. Vanessa hosts some La Posada residents and their children in her home until they have completed the program.
As further evidence of Vanessa’s community involvement, she and coworker Cynthia Trujillo, Blackstone’s District Sales Manager in El Paso, are active members of the Abundant Living Faith Center, a nondenominational, multicultural church with a congregation of more than 20,000 members. Law Enforcement Appreciation is one of the many ministries provided by the church.
Tony Browe brings an international perspective to a veteran Blackstone management team. His experience in the security arena includes personal protection work for foreign dignitaries, politicians and celebrities as well as owning his own security company in Dublin, Ireland. Tony’s enthusiasm and drive make him an excellent candidate to manage Blackstone’s operations in Houston, Texas, where he will have the responsibility for hiring, training, background checks, sales, contract management, client liaison and the budget. The Michigan native has 23 years’ experience in the security field, 16 of those years in management.
A former combat engineer, Tony became involved in the security business after his discharge from the U.S. Army when one of his former army officers hired him to oversee his security company’s Supervisor Training Program in Michigan. His duties included training and overseeing approximately 80 field supervisors on properties owned by various municipal governments and the Ford Motor Company.
Tony gained his international perspective by working for three different security companies in Ireland over a 15-year period, providing site security at public facilities, retail outlets, restaurants and nightclubs.
Eventually, Tony and a partner founded BSI Security, Ltd. In Dublin. They specialized in government contracts and providing site security for a variety of venues. A recipient of the highest certificate level from the Security Institute of Ireland, Tony also earned the highest security clearance available in that country.
Tony’s dedication to client satisfaction and his attention to detail are complemented by his willingness to take responsibility for the performance of the personnel he trains and supervises. His active, straightforward, hands-on approach to management leaves little room for misunderstandings with staff or clients. He believes very strongly in being accessible to customers and is only a phone call away from addressing customer needs directly.
Tony’s management style combines a mix of problem solving skills with a positive “get it done” attitude. He firmly believes in a “team first, individual second” philosophy and conveys that to his staffers. He possesses the qualities and professionalism that are enhancing Blackstone’s emergence as a leader in the security industry enabling the company to continue to expand in other state and regional markets.