N.Y. Undercover

AeroTech Services' president and CEO reveals secrets to success

Success can be elusive in any industry, but Marc Cormier, 35, says that in the security industry, success is particularly hard to come by. Yet, the president and CEO of Jamaica, New York-based AeroTech Services Inc. is beating the odds. The rapidly growing firm employs more than 350 people and estimates revenues of more than $9 million for 1999.

Many would-be entrepreneurs regard the security industry as an easy business to enter because there are no minimal skill requirements and start-up costs are minimal. You don’t have to have an office staff or cars. To start, all you need is the ability to provide bodies at designated points-or at least that’s what many assume going in.

Cormier says that every year a slew of retired cops, correction officers and others take a crack at starting security companies, and a great number of them fail. Cormier, a former ROTC police officer, admits that the low barrier to entry was part of what lured him. He got his start in 1993 when he bought a majority stake in a home-based sole proprietorship in Long Island, NY, and grew the company. From there, he created AeroTech Services. He quickly learned, however, that the industry is riddled with challenges, and success requires a good deal of cunning and commitment.

“This is by no means a glamorous industry. You have it hard on all sides,” says Cormier. “Clients have a bad taste in their mouths about security and they don’t want to pay you for the services you provide. We’ve encountered our fair share of deadbeat clients. But the foul taste is sometimes a result of bitter past experiences.”

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to check on a guy at his post and found that he’d cut out and gone home,” says Cormier. That experience is common in the security industry. Good workers are very hard to come by. Of course, it’s difficult to insist on timely payment and premium dollar when your employees are falling down on the job.

Overcoming that problem was therefore key to AeroTech’s success. To do so, Cormier enlisted the help of an outside agency to provide quality employees who fit a specific profile he’s developed. “The industry is that cutthroat,” he insists. “I stumbled across this agency from a friend who’s not happy I found out his secret.”

Working with the recruitment agency has given AeroTech a significant advantage in finding employees, and that’s a big part of the battle in the security industry.

At one time, AeroTech provided security services almost exclusively to airports, including escort for prisoners and travelers without visas. The firm has since branched out, and counts commercial property owners and utility companies among its clients. The company has expanded its services, too, providing legal investigative work for lawyers. Looking ahead, Cormier says he plans to offer clients security devices such as surveillance cameras.

AeroTech Services, 107-35 Merrick Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11433; 718-657-1992

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