Gerry Lambert shares his experiences of working in security
Gerry Lambert, well known in security circles, always a gentleman and as passionate today about customer service as when he and his wife Joyce started Charter Security in 1980.
Gerry shares his experiences and passes on some pearls of wisdom to those developing their careers today.
Early years of security
The world of security was very different in 1980, housed in those days within our modest rented offices close to the A13 Barking. That often meant cold winters with calor gas heaters and body warmers being the norm.
I believe we developed in a sound and progressive manner due, in part, to our policy ‘to respond to all requests for security assistance from our clients, no matter what time of the day or night the request was made.’
In those times it invited the slogan ‘Who can? We can‘, a term we still use today.
The beginning of your security career can involve long or unsocial hours. You must show dedication to the client and the task given to you. It is important to have a positive, cheerful approach, be well turned out and punctual. Always look at the ‘visitor’ and speak. Even “Hello” or “Can I help?” may be sufficient.
I would also recommend that you attend all training opportunities. As an individual keen to succeed, always be ready to take on extra duties or roles within the organisation. Cram into your time as much experience as possible.
My approach meant that during my early years I would often be the one driving to respond to a call for help and this proved a successful formula in being invited to take on more and more work.
More than ever now, clients expect the absolute keenest price possible for our services but without any reduction in quality procedures. The logistical challenge alone in a 24-hour business, together with the considerable addition of new legislation and trade accreditation, not forgetting variable Codes of Practice, mean that, in many ways, only the best can survive.
A varied role
A career in security can mean much variety. Over the years we have protected commercial premises, public transport infrastructure, prestige buildings and developments; including one tragic site following the Korean air crash near Stansted Airport, during and after the official enquiry. Today we’re working on one of the most complex building programmes in the country, at height, over water and live train lines.
Of course, we have had many interesting moments along the way. One Monday, we were informed that one of our guards had been called at the weekend as the night relief to protect an isolated bonded warehouse. He had arrived at the gate wearing a dress and with a pretty good fashion wig, ready to do his Sunday night shift. We asked the guard to call at the office. I had to point out that I was unable to accept him working out of uniform and would he please desist with immediate effect. I noticed under the hem of his trousers that he appeared to be wearing ladies, black stockings or tights.
My wife Joyce, passing by and seeing the guard in his white uniform shirt, stared and said, “And if you are going to wear a bra, please note that a lady would not wear a black bra under a white shirt! Now pull yourself together and report for work in your issued uniform.”
Following this we had no further difficulties and I think his personal record was maintained without reference. It is hard for me to put into words how much I value the contribution made by many of our long-serving members of staff, but it is very clear that all have dedicated themselves to working closely as a team.
Peter Simpson, former Deputy Chief Constable of Essex, joined us on retirement as a non-executive director and was one of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. He served as a director for 10 years until his death. He was always calm with his feet on the ground. I have much to thank him for.
Security has been my life and that of my family, as my daughter Claire Lambert now takes the reins as managing director. Of course, I will never fully retire – security is in my blood and Charter is a part of who I am. It’s been a wonderful journey and we’ve come a long way from that little room in Barking with its calor gas heater.