Allied Universal looks beyond guard services to extend its industry reach

Sept. 26, 2017
Company’s top execs discuss how they are combining man with machine at ASIS 2017

Just a little over a year ago, AlliedBarton Security Services and Universal Services of America announced that they were joining forces in one of the largest mergers ever seen in the guard services industry. In the time since the two companies came together, Allied Universal has also raised its profile as a provider of various other security offerings, including advanced technology solutions and integration services.

For example, last summer the company rolled out its Machine-as-a-Service offering, providing security robots from Knightscope to clients looking to supplement their existing guard force with machines. In addition, through its Monitoring and Response Center (MaRC) located in Richardson, Texas, Allied Universal provides around-the-clock video surveillance, access control and intrusion detection monitoring to a wide range of customers. The center can also combine the monitoring of these systems with operational security platforms, such as critical incident management, threat awareness, situational intelligence, and social media monitoring to create what is essentially an outsourced global security operations center (GSOC) for clients.

While these are solutions that have not been traditionally offered by manned guarding firms, Allied Universal and its leadership team realize that remaining competitive in the market hinges on their ability to provide out-of-the box solutions.

Evolving with the Market

Ty Richmond, president, national accounts and integrated systems technology for Allied Universal, says their evolution as a company has really been borne out of where the industry is headed in terms of its reliance on both people and technology to keep organizations safe.      

“We’ve evolved because we see a natural evolution of the integration of manned guarding and technology even more than historically has been able to be accomplished,” Richmond adds. “Our customers are getting challenged once again to find the most cost-effective ways they can to mitigate risk for their corporate clients and stakeholders, so there are natural evolutions of technology that make that process much more effective and efficient. Secondly, they are still being challenged to look at risk from an enterprise level to be able to mitigate it and have solutions and different products to enable them to do that and so it’s a natural evolution of our company to expand from manned guarding to augment that with technology and bring either cost efficient or more effective ways to our customers.”

Richmond says they want to be seen as a company that can offer those kinds of capabilities, which is why they’ve acquired assets recently that are more technology-oriented and why they have also poured resources into developing their own solutions. “Manned guarding is our core (business) and that is the primary service focus but we will see continued increasing deployment of more products and solutions,” he says.

According to Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones, one of the greatest benefits of the merger has been the insights they’ve been able to gather from their combined customer base which has subsequently helped them to see how they can better serve the marketplace.  

“You take half the company, because it was basically a merger of equals, and you start going out and talking with legacy Allied customers about technology solutions that we have and that may be impactful to their business and then we start to get feedback… and it really opens your eyes to other things that we can be doing to not only provide solutions to our customers but to also look long term at some of the potential challenges that they foresee coming down the road,” Jones explains.

The Impact of New Technologies on Guard Services

With regards to their Machine-as-as-Service offering, Richmond says their clients have approached it from an exploratory perspective, seeking to learn how and where autonomous data machines (ADMs), as they are referred to by the company, can bolster their existing technology systems and guard forces. He also believes security end-users will begin to experiment more with drones moving forward.

“I think 2018 is going to be more of an exploratory, touch-and-feel scenario (with drones) as legislation and other changes and evolutions occur that will enable them to be used in more commercial applications. Robotics has also gone through the same evolution and process to some degree during 2017,” Richmond explains. “I do see (these technologies) becoming more and more a part of a normal security deployment but that all depends on the comfort level the client has based on the environment where it will be applied, the actual application, etc. It’s great to have technology, it’s great to have the integration of all of these new products and services, but if you’re not able to gather the information (generated) in an efficient way, integrate it, aggregate it, analyze it, and then deploy it in a way your customer sees value in it, then obviously you’re limiting the potential of what the ultimate goal and intention is.”

While the introduction of robots from Knightscope and other manufacturers has brought about industry conversations surrounding the need for human guards and if the presence of machines portends a bleaker outlook for the guard job market over the next decade, Jones insists that robots are not going to have much of an impact on demand for well-trained security officers.

“First and foremost, everyone is concerned about rising wages and everyone is concerned about where, 10 to 15 years from now, costs might be and how do we provide the security services our customers need and do it in a way that they can still afford. Others have come back to us and said they have very specific needs from a data standpoint to be able to provide more data on their security spend, security threats, security incidents, and security needs than ever before. The security line item is continuing to increase in their budgets, so when security spend gets the point where it is now, they need data to justify it,” Jones says. “We’ve gotten some great, candid feedback - whether it has been on using remote video monitoring, our handheld technology or robots – about how customers are looking for ways to potentially offset the increasing security costs and all of them have said that security guards are not going away.”

About the Author: 

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief,

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.