Our new blog series asks IPSB board members to share their own stories about how they got into the security business, their accomplishments, failures – and more.
In this first blog, Jerry Heying, founder of the International Protection Group, LLC and the International Protective Service Agency, and owner of the Executive Protection Institute (EPI), kicks things off as he looks back on more than 40 years in the industry – and looks ahead to the upcoming Close Protection Conference.
Back in the 1970s when I got my start in security, practically everyone in the industry was a retired something or other, typically guys with a background in law enforcement or the military who were working in security as a second career.
Since I’m neither ex-police nor military (I had a high draft number – if anyone can remember that whole system), I jokingly tell everyone that I’m a retired hippy ski bum. It’s a great way to start a conversation!
Actually, my path into security was a little different than most. I started working in construction management, then transitioned into property management – especially of estates owned by prominent people who had high risk profiles. This led to security management in 1977, and finally into executive protection around 1986.
I started my security company in 1989 with the intent to focus specifically on executive protection and special events, as I had a lot of experience managing security for large events both in the US and abroad. In 2009, I was fortunate to be able to take over the Executive Protection Institute (EPI). This gave me the opportunity to start the EPIC conferences and eventually partner with ESI to co-sponsor them, which lead to the creation of the IPS Board.
I’m privileged to have a number of milestone moments in my security career.
The first one would definitely be obtaining my Certified Protection Professional (CPP) certification in 1989. For someone without military or law enforcement experience, this was a major achievement that helped me get established as an expert security professional. Similarly, being awarded the Personal Protection Specialist (PPS) certification was an important step for me.
One of my greatest joys, however, was having the opportunity to assume ownership and management responsibility of the Executive Protection Institute. I’m proud that I could take the reins of EPI and continue its legacy.
This has allowed us to add additional training programs and to open the once-closed Nine Lives Associates (NLA) conferences to the public under EPIC in partnership with ESI, which resulted in a joint conference for four years.
All of this got us to where we are today, and led to me being invited to be a founding member of the IPSB, another accomplishment of which I’m quite proud.
Crashing a motorcycle into a tree would have to be one of my more spectacular failures. And I sure wish I would have hit the kill switch before hitting that tree.
But as a positive thinker, I don’t like to look at accidents or disappointments as failures.
Yes, I’ve had business setbacks. I’ve won and then lost million-dollar-a-year accounts for a multitude of reasons. And yet, I don’t regard them as failures. For me, they are valuable (if sometimes costly) lessons that have allowed me to learn and move on.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve”.
This was written by Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich”, a book my brother gave me many years ago. This book about positive thinking changed my life. My outlook on life transformed from generally negative to extremely positive. I strongly encourage everyone to read this book!
The EP business is booming and there are tremendous opportunities for everyone. This is a truly exciting development that brings with it great promise, but also great responsibility.
Of course, as the owner of an EP training school and an EP service provider company, it’s great to see such growth in our industry.
But this development is about much more than my commercial interests.
After more than 40 years in the business, I’m excited to see how our industry has transformed since I started out in the 1970s. Practitioners are getting more professional. Clients are getting more savvy. Standards are going up across the board.
What’s particularly interesting is that we, as members of this industry, have the opportunity to shape this development ourselves. To paraphrase Napoleon Hill: “If we can conceive it and believe it, we can achieve it”.
It’s up to each of us to get involved and to play a positive role in our own industry. That is what truly excites me.
The Close Protection Conference is a key platform for all of us who care about the industry. It enables us to get together and shape the future of what we love to do. Understanding how we got this far will help to understand why I’m so excited about this year’s new platform.
When I took over EPI, our annual conferences were for NLA members and EPI graduates only. I strongly felt that it would benefit the industry if the conference was open to the public. Although not everyone agreed, we started the Executive Protection International Conference (EPIC) in 2010 and then partnered with ESI in 2012. EPI and ESI co-sponsored the EPIC-Lifeforce conferences for the following four years.
Based on that foundation and last year’s conference record of 175 attendees, several of us who care about the protection industry met early this year and decided that we should form the International Protective Security Board (IPSB) to build on the foundation that EPI and ESI had created with the joint conferences, and expand the conferences even more. I’m happy to see that this is happening.
When you stand on top of a mountain and you want to get to the top of the higher peak on your horizon, you face a daunting task. As much as you’d like to be able to jump from one mountain to the other, you have to leave your mountaintop, descend into a valley, and make another ascent to get to the top of an even higher peak.
While you sometimes feel like you are losing ground as you go down, you have to remember that you are making progress. You have to keep moving forward and maintain momentum. This is the situation we are in with the formation of the IPSB, and this is an exciting time for everyone in the industry.