PEOPLE FIRST

Mexico 2017 | TRANSPORT & SECURITY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Armando Zuñiga Salinas, Director General of IPS Seguridad, on its key differentiators and working with large international companies.

Armando Zuñiga Salinas
BIOGRAPHY
Armando Zuñiga Salinas is CEO and the founding partner of Grupo IPS de México. He has over 20 years of experience, and was president of ASIS Chapter Mexico. He holds a CPP certification and graduated from the security direction program given by the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid. He also graduated from the AD2 program of the Pan American Institute of Higher Education (IPADE). He is a counselor of COPARMEX NACIONAL and is president of the public security commission of the Mexico City business center.

What is the history behind IPS Seguridad and how has it transformed since its establishment?

I joined the security sector after the crisis of 1995. Over time, I began to enjoy working in the industry, particularly the opportunity to help others. Today, our company distinguishes itself from others due to its human factor. We do not see people as a means of doing business. Instead, we focus on how to help people improve their quality of life. Later, I set up my own security company with a friend. It was not easy, because we had to gain the trust of clients and it was a learning process of five years, during which we had to understand management, law, accounting, and so on. Then from 2000, we included marketing and a corporate image. We started to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Amongst 8,000 security companies in Mexico, there is no other company like ours. We have had about 2,000 employees who have finished high school during their time with our company. Many of them have left because they went on to get their university degrees or found better positions elsewhere. For us, it is a great satisfaction to see our people grow. This led us to better understand the concept of social responsibility. We have learnt about protecting the environment and safety, which is a social issue. For six years, we have received the Mexican Philanthropy Center's award for socially responsible companies. In addition, three years ago, Great Place to Work Institute approached us for our social commitment and in 2016 we were certified by Great Place to Work. That is one of the achievements that makes us proud and has boosted our growth.

What is the benefit for potential clients of working with a security company that has that certification?

One of the main challenges in security companies is employee turnover. Turnover affects companies financially. To select a person, train him, provide uniforms, and put him to work involves costs a company about MXN5,000. If we do not invest in training and motivation, it is very likely that they will leave, affecting our finances and quality of services. Motiving and appreciating our employees will eventually positively affect our clients, because they will receive better service. In fact, turnover is one of the things our clients consider before hiring us. Our turnover rate is less than 10%, while in other companies it is 80% or more. We have achieved this by being a Great Place to Work company. We also have an internal newsletter with which we motivate and award our employees for their good work.

How has your client profile transformed over 21 years?

We grow by 20% on average. There have been other years that have seen greater growth because we had large clients. Some of our clients identify with us because of our human philosophy. We have for example, Pepsico, our largest client, which is a socially responsible company. Our clients include Citibanamex, Banorte, Kellogg's, DHL, Bombardier, Alston, Schneider, and so on, and their operations are characterized by social responsibility. We have around 300 clients, about 60% of them corporations.

What are the challenges of working with large international companies?

One of the biggest challenges is profitability. Some large corporations hire big volumes, but demand low prices. We have a small margin to maneuver, because 80% of our costs are payroll and benefits. Even with high volumes, those are costs we cannot lower. One of our biggest challenges is maintaining a profitable business in a competitive market. There is also a great deal of unfair competition, with companies that do not pay fair salaries, benefits, or taxes. Fortunately, large companies acknowledge formality, good salaries, and management. Small security companies focus on costs, risking reliability.