When Ted Reid joined Paladin Security as its first chief financial officer in 2006, the company was growing fast – maybe a little too fast. Over the past decade, Paladin has grown from 1,000 to 10,000 employees.
This coincided with the overall rise of the global security industry, with spending on security growing by 7.4% last year to hit $244 billion. The industry’s growth appears to be in lockstep with technological advancements such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, facial-recognition software and military-grade motion detectors.
Technology has transformed the sector from, say, a night-owl staffer at a desk with a flashlight to a round-the-clock, streamlined high-tech surveillance apparatus.
According to B.C. government statistics, the need for security guards has risen from 2009, when 16,164 licences were approved, to 2015, when 17,590 were issued. The number of security consultants, CCTV installations, electronic locking devices and alarm installations under supervision also grew during that period.
But while digital technology expanded in the mid 2000s, Paladin lagged behind the times in its financial management. Reid, who got his chartered accountant status in 1998 while with KPMG and worked in Australia and the United Kingdom, was tasked with bringing Canada’s largest security company’s financial and accounting divisions into the 21st century.
“I think everyone knew that the changes had to be made,” Reid said. “There was a lot of frustration across the board with how things were being done.”
Reid said he wouldn’t call his job a “rebuild,” but he knew he was being brought in for one reason.
“They saw me as the guy who solves problems, and that’s what I like doing – solving problems.”
With Reid as CFO, Paladin Security has become a powerhouse within the industry. The company has completed a number of acquisitions, increased the number of its offices from four to 25 and entered the U.S. market by setting up shop in 16 states.
Reid has helped the company embrace various technologies for clients across a wide spectrum of industries including health care, oil and gas, natural resources, government, retail, real estate and hotels.
Reid said he understands that as technology improves, a conversation has to continually take place about the balance between personal privacy rights and overall public security.
“It’s definitely a challenge with society,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like the idea that they are being recorded. I guess it’s the new reality for the world we live in. Our job is to try and make the world safer.”
It’s a bigger job every year. Reid said the company is always hiring, and never fully staffed. The demand for employees is so high the company performs market research about potential employees, gathering information on millennials – the generation that has most recently come of age, from which Paladin has drawn a large proportion of its workforce.
The goal is to offer continuous training and chances to move up within the company quickly. Paladin CEO Ashley Cooper, who himself has been helped by the firm’s embrace of internal promotions, having started as a security officer while finishing his commerce degree, said Reid’s all-encompassing role as CFO means he’s working on pretty much everything related to the company.
“It is important to note that Ted conducts himself more like a CEO than a CFO,” Cooper said. “He has the significant responsibility of managing the financial risks of the business.”
Cooper called Reid “strategic” and “pragmatic,” noting the CFO isn’t the kind of corner-office executive who might be afraid to roll up his sleeves.
“He is very much in the trenches getting the job done,” Cooper said. “This is how he earns the respect of everyone around him.”
Cooper also applauded his commitment to community building through his involvement in a number of charitable initiatives. Reid has been an active blood donor since 2002, and Paladin conducts an annual blood drive in support of Canadian Blood Services. Reid was also one of the initial board members and founding treasurer of Canada Scores, a charity that provides after-school care programs to over 200 at-risk or underprivileged children across the Lower Mainland.
“The program focuses on kids grades 3 to 6, which is when they tend to be the most vulnerable and very impressionable,” Reid said. “And that’s usually the time a lot of them are getting in trouble, which is right after school.”
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