Reviving a Legacy in the Security Industry

Grandson of Best Access Systems founder builds security firm that plans to go national

Marshall Best is less diplomatic.

"We all got thrown out," he said.

Later years were tumultuous at the company. Russell used tens of millions of dollars from its sale to settle litigation charging that he had ripped off minority shareholders by paying them too little when he bought them out in 1998.

Building anew
Marshall believes Richard has a good shot at reclaiming a prominent spot in the security industry for the Best family.

"I think [Richard] has a tremendous opportunity for dramatic growth with Vigilcorp," said Marshall, who is not part of the company. "He knows to grow, you can't be a one-man show, and he's surrounded himself with really talented people."

Benshoof's role as co-owner shouldn't be overlooked, said Vince Griffin, Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president of environmental and energy policy.

In addition to his experience at Best Access, Benshoof has considerable experience with OSHA regulations, and has held prominent posts with the Indiana Air Pollution Control Board, Indiana Water Pollution Control Board and Indiana Quality Service Council.

That kind of experience is important, industry experts say, because security firms need to safeguard against a wide range of potential terrorist threats and must set up security systems that comply with state and federal workplace safety laws.

"The Best name is everywhere in this community and in this industry, and with David Benshoof, I think they've put together a very strong team," Griffin said.

Vigilcorp's business model, Zalud said, shows Richard Best understands where the industry is headed.

"It's less an issue of locks and keys and more about electronic security systems that provide more intelligence," Zalud said. "A lot of this is being driven by crime and liability issues, which are very real for businesses today."

In less than two years, Vigilcorp already has a client list of a more mature company, including Meridian Management Corp., Duke Realty Corp. and Keihnin IPT Manufacturing.

"Their connection to Best gave them a history you don't find with many startups," said Dan O'Connor, senior staff engineer for locally based Keihnin, which manufactures fuel-injection systems. "They did computerized-badge control for us, as well as set up and maintained a closed-circuit TV network and helped with hardware and software for our security gate. In addition to their versatility in this field, they treated us like a big client. Their service is excellent."

In addition to Benshoof, Richard Best's former classmate at LeTourneau University in Texas, Vigilcorp has six employees with a combined 100-plus years in the safety and security industry. Vigilcorp also contracts with about 30 off-duty police officers. Best believes security guards must be police officers with full arresting powers to be completely effective.

Learning from father
Best said that after he left Best Access, he didn't sign a non-compete agreement but decided to stay out of the business for a while to polish his business plan for Vigilcorp and serve as chairman of Heritage Christian School, which his father founded.

His father died in 2003, a short time after Richard started Vigilcorp. While Vigilcorp is no carbon copy of Best Access, Richard said the management lessons he learned from his father will be critical to Vigilcorp's success.

"He knew how to run a business, how to grow a business, but he also cared about the people, his clients and his employees," Best said. "That was the foundation that allowed him to grow the company--treat employees and customers fairly and honestly. He knew how critical service was on many levels.

"I'd be happy to build on that family legacy," he added. "That means more to me than the bottom line."