GOOD news on the employment front emerged from Newhall – between Naas and Newbridge – recently. Security firm Manguard Plus, which describes itself as the largest privately-owned security firm in Ireland, announced plans to create 300 new jobs through a new specialised front of house division for corporate clients.
Concierge Plus will supply specialised staff highly-trained in skills ranging from customer service to conflict resolution and counter terrorism. “This model is already well-established in the UK and in America but we will be the only security firm in Ireland to provide this particular function in this country,” managing director Sean Hall explained.
It’s part of an expansionary phase for a company whose roots go back more than two decades. The Newbridge man left school following his Intercert and worked in the bar trade for a time, later taking up a role with Provincial Security Services in the town. In his early twenties with two small kids, he was working for the security company by day and worked the nightclubs by night. A broken ankle gave him time to consider the future and he decided to launch his own company in 1996 – Cill Dara Security Services. The first year was a struggle but they managed to keep afloat.
“In the following year then we started to get some new contracts and from there then we just took off,” he said.
Following changes introduced in the industry around 2007 and concerns from small companies, Cill Dara Security merged with Kratos, run by a friend of Mr Hall’s in the business, to form Manguard Plus. Today, the firm employs around 1,200 people with offices in Waterford, Cork, Belfast, London, Chester and, of course, its headquarters in Newhall – chosen for practical considerations such as proximity for staff as well as ample space and parking. Turnover last year was €28 million.
Newhall is home to a €1 million command and control centre which Mr Hall describes as the first of its kind in Ireland, from which they serve clients including Aer Lingus and the Curragh Racecourse – one of their very first contracts. “It allows us to deliver a different service completely,” he said. “It probably was the biggest thing we’ve done and it’s the highlight of the company.”
The security business has undoubtedly changed over the years, moving beyond a guard with a set of keys. Mr Hall believes that regulation was vital when it arrived and that today’s industry is more professional, explaining that security guards are much better trained now, more customer-friendly and client-focused, and offer a lot more for clients than just security.
Manguard Plus is very much about an enhanced service, such as having people on call – including carpenters – to secure a premises in the event of an issue, and a new motorbike service to avoid traffic when called out to clients. Staff are key to this level of service and they’re a top priority in Newhall. Mr Hall describes it as a family-run business, adding that some staff have been working at the company since around 1996. Recognition for its customer service strengths has come in the form of WorldHost Recognised Business status last September.
“We do really, really value our staff and that’s not lip service, we do value the staff. And they stay with us for a long time,” he said. “That then feeds back into the clients, the client is happy with the staff they’re getting, they are familiar with the staff they’re getting, they are not looking at different people every day. They are quite content then with the service they are getting.”