From security to services

Issue 3 2021 Editor's Choice

Fidelity Security has become a household name in the security industry in South Africa as it is the largest private security company in the country, operating nationwide. Moreover, in an industry where fly-by-night operators are common, it’s comforting to know that the company has been around since 1963.

Founded as Springbok Patrols by the father of Wahl Bartmann, who is the current CEO of Fidelity Services Group, the company has expanded organically and by acquisition into a group of companies under the banner of Fidelity Services Group. This group is the largest security operation in South Africa today. (The history of the company can be traced back even further to 1957, when the first cash solutions service in South Africa was launched.)

Wahl Bartmann, CEO, Fidelity Services Group.

It is therefore incorrect to refer to Fidelity Security anymore. Today the residential armed response and business guarding division of the company is known as Fidelity ADT, following the acquisition of ADT in 2017. In this division, the services offered include physical guarding and armed response, complemented by technology from alarms, to access control, surveillance and more, all managed from Fidelity’s control centre. Wahl says technology is becoming an important component of security services across the board and the future will see a closer integration between people and technology.

Expansion into services

Wahl started working in the company as a part-timer before moving into the job on a permanent basis. Some of his holiday work was done while he completed a law degree, before doing his 2-year stint in the military.

The company is today over 50% black-owned after completing a BEE deal in 1997, at which time Wahl became the managing director. In 2000, the company was sold and following the unbundling of Fidelity Security Services in 2005, Wahl became the Group CEO. Since then the company has continued expanding to its current size with over 50 000 employees.

Part of the expansion was the acquisition of ADT, as mentioned above, and also the acquisition of Protea Coin’s Cash in Transit (CiT) business. Today the company’s security offering includes the following businesses:

• Fidelity Security Services, offering guarding and specialised services.

• Fidelity ADT, offering home and business security.

• Fidelity Cash Master, which is focused on retail cash management solutions.

• Fidelity Cash Solutions, the current CiT business.

• Fidelity Secure Drive for vehicle and fleet tracking and monitoring.

• Fidelity Fire Solutions, delivering integrated fire safety solutions.

There are still more businesses in the group, covering cleaning services, insurance, other retail technology solutions, air services and more.

Employee advancement and community support

Getting the right people and keeping them happy and loyal to the company is a priority for Wahl and his management team. He believes it is critical to get the culture right in a company and to have everyone on the same page and working towards the same goals.

To this end, Fidelity is focused on ongoing education and training for employees, whether via external training organisations or through its internal Centre of Excellence. Wahl believes that while learning and theory are important, practical on-the-job experience is also a critical factor in developing competent staff. Through various training programmes and courses, the company identifies areas of potential and provides employees with a learning programme to supplement their on-the-job experience and give them a career path.

The company’s graduate programme reflects this. The programme offers a select few graduates the opportunity for a 24-month development programme that will equip them with the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead in the business. Following the programme, they can transition into an identified role within the organisation.

The security industry is a difficult and competitive industry and if young people want to succeed and make a career in this market, Wahl recommends they join a company and learn the ropes, gathering practical experience. This will give them valuable skills as well as highlight the different routes they can take as their career develops.

The Fidelity Foundation is a non-profit organisation within the organisation that focuses on reaching out and making a meaningful contribution in the communities the group services by supporting education and poverty alleviation.

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