Safety has always been a con-cern here in the U.S. and in post-apartheid South Africa. Leonard Paige, president and founder of the Marina, California-based Paige’s Security Services Inc., has taken on the challenge of providing security in the public and private sectors on both continents. His 12-year-old security firm, named one of the fastest-growing private companies from 1995 to 1997 by Inc. magazine, is one of a few black-owned American companies to joint venture with a black South African-owned firm.
In January, Paige completed a merger with Quattro Protective Services, a South African security company owned and operated by brothers Faizel and Shiraz Moosa. “The merger amounts to my buying about half into the net of the company, which is worth $500,000 dollars,” says Paige, who put up $225,000 to purchase 49% of the company.
The process for the merger began
to take shape when Paige’s Security Services, along with 14 other companies, was chosen to participate in a U.S. Department of Commerce trade mission to Johannesburg, South Africa in September 1997. “The government in South Africa had requested assistance from the U.S. to help train their people to be more effective in business,” explains Paige, 71. “My reason for being there was to work with security businesspeople with the intent of setting up a security training academy.”
Paige’s trip was part of the Minority Matchmaker Initiative sponsored by the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency and the International Trade Administration. “For this trip, the 19th during the Clinton administration, we focused heavily on architecture, engineering and information technology,” explains Paul Webber, associate director for programs for the Agency. “We also identified a need for security because of the high crime rate in South Africa.” Since February 1993, the Initiative has led to close to $350 million in sales for the 325 minority companies it’s taken to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Specializing in personnel protection, property safeguarding and protection, and classified documentation protection since 1987, Paige’s company grossed $24 million last year. He currently employs a staff of 884 nationally.
Following meetings with South African government officials, security businessmen and Luthando Investments, a women’s empowerment group, Paige returned to the U.S. to start putting together strategies to help South Africa with its security problems. Although initial plans to work with another security firm fell through, Paige was contacted by Luthando seven months after his visit and introduced to the Moosa brothers. Their four-year-old security company, which also specializes in bodyguard security, grossed $1.3 million in 1998.
In the months that followed, Paige and the brothers discussed ways they could merge their companies and work at protecting South Africa’s airways, waterways, banks, casinos, hotels and other businesses. By January, the businessmen had inked a deal for Quattro to begin operation as Paige’s Security Services in South Africa. The South African employees, who now total 400, will be responsible for the company’s operations, while Paige’s U.S. office will handle the administration, finances and training. Paige has appointed several of his top employees to help set