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

How do you protect the company’s proprietary information for external, as well as internal forces?
Keeping in mind that before I came to Kendall-Jackson, they hadn’t had a security (program) before… they haven’t always kept up with all the management throughout the company that they need to and that’s what we’re doing now, we’re putting those processes in place. I put five policies in place this year and one of them was we had to eliminate weapons in the workplace. Now that might sound strange because no one wants weapons to come into a office building, but what about weapons in the vineyard where we have small animals that will damage our crops. Wild boar, for example, will dig under the rootstalk of the vine and can destroy acres. That’s important because it takes five years from plant to yield to get a full yield from one vine. I had to consider that we needed the control of the dear eating the grapes, of the wild boar digging under the rootstalk, of the rattlesnakes and rabbits and so on that are present, but we didn’t want our employees doing it. We contract in now (with a pest control company), to have the predators eliminated because they’ll work with fish & game to get special permits to get the deer out of there. Do we kill them? No, we have other, more humane ways of dealing with them. We use noises, we use flashers, and we use all kinds of things that humanely deal with the wildlife.  
Are they’re any security technologies that you use that are unique to the wine industry?
The fact that Kendall-Jackson has stepped out to put a chief security officer in place is unique in and of itself. I’m trying to be innovative in getting the best security services I can, I have just replaced our contract security force. We’re spending the same amount of money and we’ve got better management, field management, better service and the officers have been vetted. There’s better background checks and there is better training. So, we’re doing more with less and I say that because we flat lined our budget and we still got better service for what we put out. I think over the last 13 months I’ve done eight investigations and that includes everything from equipment theft, to product theft and employee issues, so we’ve put processes in everyone of those places like cash handling. There was no specific way or timing for the proceeds at the tasting rooms to go into the bank, so I changed the cash handling process to tighten that up and better secure our assets.
What types of safeguards do you have in place to protect against product tampering?
That’s something that I’ve spent a great deal of time on because product contamination is always a worry. But I’ve done vulnerability assessments on five of our sites, including our bottling site. The way it’s organized, the juice comes in after the crushing, it comes into trucks, those trucks are sealed and it goes from the field to the processing plant where it’s put in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. There are a couple of places the product could be tampered with, but we’ve not ever experienced that. We’ve not had an issue to date with product tampering. We did have a six-figure loss where a high-end wine was taken. (Three employees) took this wine out of the three years it was suppose to sit; they took it in the second year and sold on the Internet for half the price. So we we’re comprised with taste. It was a hit on the name because of the compromised wine, so we’ve changed that again with a process. We now have a better computer tracking system that can’t be manipulated as easy.     
Being such a large enterprise, what types of safety programs do you have in place to ensure personnel security?