At the Frontline: Kendall-Jackson security chief Shirley Pierini

Former ASIS president discusses the unique challenges behind keeping one of world’s largest wine makers safe

Passing through the pristine landscapes of California’s wine country, it’s hard to imagine the complexities of keeping these valuable crops safe. Indeed, even some vineyard owners themselves are unaware of the threats that their businesses face.
It only took one incident, however, before Kendall-Jackson realized that they needed the help of an experienced security professional to help them safeguard their company’s image and products. Following a large theft by three employees of one its high-end wines in early 2008, Kendall-Jackson, which owns more than 15,000 acres of land in California alone, called upon Former ASIS International President and Chairman Shirley Pierini to help them formulate a comprehensive security plan to protect not only their product from vine to table, but also keep its employees safe.
Pierini, who has more than 25 years experience in corporate security management and law enforcement, subsequently sought the help of employees to learn what security deficiencies needed to be addressed.  
In this “At the Frontline,” Pierini discusses the policies she’s helped develop and implement to keep Kendall-Jackson and its associated properties safe. 
What are some unique challenges that you face being head of security for Kendall-Jackson wineries?
Security management is pretty much the same across the board, but with each of the industries that we all face, whether is finance or mortgage companies, every specific entity has its own niche, there are specificities to every line of work and that’s no exception with vineyards. The wine industry is a full line of supply chain security; it’s from the vineyards to the table. The product goes from protection of the grapes in the field and the machinery that helps to create that crop, to the crushings, to product contamination, to transportation, to warehousing and then step aside from that and we still have all of the same challenges of personnel security. Whether its owner (protection), workplace violence issues, theft within the workplace, those are all common grounds to every element of security that we apply.
How do secure your global supply chain and what are some of the solutions that you utilize?
Wineries and wine companies typically don’t have or haven’t had historically security, unless their big. One of the things that I have initiated for a solution is to put in an inventory process and that’s to account for bottles. A good example is mobile bottling. We have boutique wineries, we have 32 labels, so we don’t bring all the juice in to be bottled or stored in the cellars to one location, we sometimes have to send out a mobile bottling unit and that’s the higher end wine, the higher priced wine and so of course it’s more attractive to theft. So, what I’ve done is put in an inventory of the glass bottles that go into the mobile bottling unit. They are filled and sealed and then come out in cases. And, we inventory the glass going in, we inventory the full bottles coming out and they are shrink wrapped and sealed, put on a pallet and placed on a truck that transports it to a major distribution center. That process has near eliminated the shrinkage that we have on the high end of our boutique wineries.
How important is perimeter security in your industry and how do you safeguard your vineyards?
We don’t secure vineyards. With the vast amount of berries that we have and the crops that we harvest, a quarter of an acre doesn’t mean anything. It’s not cost effective, nor is it reasonable to think that you want to fence 15,000 acres. What we do is identify the equipment yards, the maintenance yards and look at what we have, the cost of it, the risk analysis, and the vulnerability assessments and protect the smaller areas. (In those areas) we’ll use typical perimeter fencing and access controls. So, we look at securing our farm equipment, securing our fuel and (making sure that only authorized personnel are given) access to ATVs. If I were to say there was one element of security that helps us in the vineyards its processes. Everything that we do must have a process in order to ensure we have accountability.
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