BY WAYNE CHARGUALAF
Guam security firms have found that local businesses are trying to balance their need for security against their budget.
“We’ve gotten a few more inquiries about security services, but most places can’t afford the wages,” Prishardo Torres, general manager for Securitas Security Services USA Inc., said. “So we haven’t increased clients; for a few places we’ve actually had to reduce hours because they’re not making enough income to support their security.”
Torres said the trend he’s seen in the industry is that although local businesses — and the vacant buildings that once housed businesses that have closed for good — stand empty for longer periods of time, the security industry is seeing a drop in business even as demand increases. It all comes down to revenue drying up for both existing and potential clients. It’s not that local businesses don’t need more security, it’s that they can’t afford it.
“I’ve had to reduce employee hours here and there, but I’ve been trying to help them by putting them on some special jobs that we do every once in a while to give them their hours, but that’s the best we can possibly do during this situation,” Torres said.
Securitas has about 100 employees, about 70 of which are security guards. Many guards have taken to sharing hours with coworkers who have significantly fewer hours.
“Whoever is at 40 hours, for example, will give away eight hours to someone who is only making 24 hours, to help bring him up and even things out,” Torres said. “We’ve all been trying to help each other out.”
Like many other Guam employers, Torres is hoping to avail his company of the federal benefits available through the Coronavirus Aid and Economic Security Act that was signed by President Donald J. Trump in March. More than 400 employers on Guam have registered for federal assistance through the Guam Department of Labor platform hireguam.com
“I’ve been looking into that,” Torres said. “I’ve been talking to Guam Visitors Bureau about it to get it up and running because I do have some guards whose hours have been reduced. I’m trying to get that as quickly as possible.”
Secure Safe Solutions, a security firm that focuses on technological security solutions such as cameras, intrusion alarm systems and access control rather than manned security, noticed an interest from existing clients in increasing their security.
“We did have a few customers that did want to have more security because they became more concerned,” Jerick D. Cruz, business development manager at Secure Safe Solutions, said. “Some people don’t have jobs anymore, so the risk of crime is higher. We tried to help those people with what we can, but a lot of things became more difficult because the whole world was affected by this. We would try to order things and there would be a delay, for instance.”
There were also concerns from clients and employees about risks of contracting the coronavirus during service visits to maintain existing security systems.
Off-island contracts are impacted by various rules and restrictions on movement and travel.
“When you get to Saipan you have to be quarantined, and it’s hard for a business to pay for two weeks of quarantine for one of our employees when there isn’t any progress for work,” Cruz said.
As security firms try to survive the current economy, the good news for its clients is that, for now, at least, it appears any potential burglars or trespassers are also staying at home and keeping their distance.
“We haven’t had any issues with breaks in or anything like that,” Torres said. “Not yet.” mbj