Personnel file - June 2009: Security
CEO, Allegiance Security Group LLC
When Jim Stevens was searching for a place to start a security business in 1998, he chose one where he felt secure. He had summered in Morehead City as a child, and his parents recently had retired there. He even stayed there for his next venture after selling that company, Security Services of America, in 2004 for $45 million. Stevens remained at Security Services for two years as president before buying and merging two other companies into Allegiance Security Group. Today, Stevens, 62, is part owner of Allegiance, which employs about 2,500 and provides security guards for businesses in 12 states and Washington, D.C. A 30-year industry veteran, he expects revenue to increase this year by 17% to about $70 million.
Those are heady numbers for a former high-school teacher. He left the classroom when a friend at the U.S. Department of the Treasury persuaded him to apply there. A special agent who investigated gambling, tax fraud and other crimes, he took a medical retirement in 1980 after sustaining a head injury on the job — he won’t talk about the circumstances.
He went to work for an Atlanta company that trains police officers, then in Los Angeles for CPP Security, which later bought Pinkerton Security and took its name. Stevens wound up as senior vice president in charge of its government-services division. He left for Detroit-based Nationwide Security in 1991, where as vice president he was sent around the world as a consultant for businesses and the governments of Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. He quit to start Security Services.
He also is vice chairman of the North Carolina Protective Services Board, a regulatory body that oversees security companies. He says the industry isn’t immune to the bad economy. For example, the decline in construction means fewer guards are needed at work sites. Still, the industry is less vulnerable than most. “There is always going to be a need for security, regardless of what’s going on in the economy. Even if it’s soft in certain areas, others will remain strong.”