Security Interviews: Former Starbucks Coffee CSO Francis D'Addario

Author of 'Not a Moment to Lose' shares his stories of working in the security profession


I was successfully working two management jobs at the hotel and medical center when I received a recruiter’s call for a job at 7-ELeven as a Division Security Manager. I was the youngest of twenty hires at that position in North America. I read everything about security I could get my hands on, took every class, and personally responded to every robbery at a 7-Eleven in DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and West Virginia. It was about the same amount of effort as two jobs and two courses per semester. The experience was invaluable. Our robbery and asset recovery numbers were noticed. Importantly, we did not have a robbery fatality.

In less than two years I found myself interviewing for the top job at Southland Corporation. I didn’t get it but I was promoted to a newly created number two position. Louise and I collaborated on a son that year and we both realized I didn’t know a thing about negotiating a raise. Money was tight. I had the privilege of working with a terrific team that included researchers from the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. Their 7-Eleven robbery data analysis made possible our 75% reduction of robberies and more than a 90% reduction in homicides.

Safes were moved from back rooms to customer transaction stations at the front of the store. Time delay coin vending and drop boxes enabled cash control. Lighting was boosted, merchandise gondolas lowered, and signage was cleared from windows to give stores a vigilant look. Push and pull decals reminded customers (and criminals) that the cashier had no more than twenty dollars in change on hand. Door frame measures enabled clerks to accurately gauge the height of suspects. Dos and don’ts of violence avoidance re-enforced a mandatory training film to reduce injuries and fatalities. Bait bills enabled police to recover suspects with tangible evidence leading to convictions.

I landed my first director of corporate security job at twenty nine for Jerrico Inc. in Lexington, Ky., and earned my Certified Protection Professional (CPP) certification by exam as soon as I was eligible. Our entire ASIS review group passed the exam. I was later honored by Milt Brown, director of the National Crime Prevention Institute with an invitation to teach at the University of Louisville’s NCPI. That where I met Bob Hayes (now managing director of the Security Executive Council) and Tim Crow (an internationally acclaimed crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) enthusiast, and other gifted security types.

By then Pat Gerstle, an IBM programmer and I had collaborated on LossVision one of the early automated loss reporting software programs. My first book Loss Prevention through Crime Analysis followed. It was one of the first books to actually share the numbers to make the case for security investment ROI. My career plan was to incrementally expand my protection influence. Louise brought our Blue Grass baby girl into the world to make certain her older siblings had real responsibility to share.

How do you think the economy will affect the security industry?

Worldwide employment dislocation will create an opportunistic environment for organized crime, disorganized crime and lapses in all-hazards detection and mitigation capabilities. Cut-backs and funding pauses will initially hamper nimble response to emerging threats. Reported and unreported crime will rise. Profit margins will thin and market share will risk reductions in the face of counterfeiting, internal theft, and protected information espionage. Arguably avoidable injuries and losses will push brands to higher levels of prevention and mitigation investment. Security and risk mitigation investment will roar back for those who measurably differentiate their capability to protect people, core processes and technology to meet anxious stakeholder expectations.

Do you see any new technology affecting the security industry?

Definitely…innovation will be the byword for integrated, multi-layered, authentication of trusted agents, financial transactions, supply chain logistics and data protection. Exception reporting documented by digital recording and risk event corroboration will drive ‘just in time’ mitigation deployment. Perhaps more importantly, these technologies will also facilitate customer authentication, delivery accuracy and core process throughput for speed of service and transaction accuracy including credits and debits.

Technology and specifically IP is changing security devices and how they are deployed. What do you think are the next big changes we will see?