Securing a new national headquarters
A Portland-based security company with a national clientele is building its new corporate headquarters here in Portland.
Cook Security Group has officially broken ground on its new national headquarters and network operations center in North Portland near the airport, in Cascade Station.
The groundbreaking took place Sept. 18 for what will be a three-story, 26,000 square foot building. The new headquarters will be the new office of 150 of the company's more than 250 employees.
"It (the groundbreaking) went well because we are actually moving dirt, finally," Randy Neu, CFO, told the Business Tribune. "It's been a long, three-year, drawn-out process working with the City of Portland, the Port of Portland and Multnomah County, and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration): we're out by the airport, which we underestimated how many permits and just red tape you have to go through."
Cook Security is an IT and technology service company that serves nine states in the west, and the new development here in Portland will be the corporate national headquarters.
"It's about a 30,000 square foot, three-story building right out of Cascade Station — the last MAX station is in our parking lot," said CEO and President Brian Cook.
Neu said his favorite part of working on the new headquarters is the fun of designing it to cater to the company's needs and new technology.
"We're kind of bursting at the seams of our current office — we're all spread out," Neu said. "We have 255 employees total, so we'll all be under one roof finally, which will be the big thing — and utilizing the airport: we have nine other offices up and down the coast."
About 150 of the employees will be relocated to the new national headquarters, and Cook expects that number to grow by another 20 to 50 over time due to the growth of the company's remote technologies. Currently, the company has a 92 percent employee retention rate.
Cook's primary business lines are security and technology based, investing heavily into remote managed services of all types of electronic equipment including Alarms, ATMs, Video, Access Control, and managed service lines like video monitoring, case management, analytics reporting, cyber security and vulnerability testing.
Cook Security was founded in 2002 after security giant Mosler's bankruptcy.
Brian Cook, CEO and president of Cook Security, had been working as general manager of Mosler's Oregon branch, and took out a $50,000 loan to start his company and continue to serve his clients. At first, Cook Security only have five employees, but today employs more than 250 and is projected to generate $50 million in revenue.
"We started out with more boots on the street and physical security, but we're definitely migrating toward all-in with remote technologies," Cook said. "We have a network operation center which is within our current headquarters, and it will be much more robust moving into the new national headquarters."
About 80 percent of Cook's clientele are financial institutions: more than 500, including 18,000 branches. The rest of its clientele are in large commercial and data center sectors.
"More and more with the acceleration of tech, we're able to remote in and remotely fix a lot of equipment," Cook said. "We also do a lot of cyber security and vulnerability testing — anything that locks down the internet of things."
The company's online Cook Command Center interface allows customers to view their equipment, reports, service call history, projects, case management, and much more anywhere, anytime, from any device. Cook has also the leader in the new Interactive Teller deployment which is reshaping banking. In fact, Cook is hitting a rapid growth curve once again with two patent pending services to combat anti ATM skimming and cyber security.
"(ATM scams) have lately been a major problem, we had two in Salem the other day. One half of our business is the ATM business for financial institutions, so we've developed some unique products associated with ATMs to remotely fix them, and then secure them with anti-skimming devices," Neu said. "We developed a unique technology using video analytics integrated with an ATM transaction, so if there's something suspicious happening at an ATM it can notify our operating center and we notify our customers."
The new HQ
"We started this project three years ago," Cook said. "It's a unique transaction because the Port of Portland owned the land, the PDC (now Prosper Portland) leased the land, and we took over the lease from the PDC. It's a long-term, 80-year lease."
Cook told the Business Tribune obtaining the permits was the most exciting part of the project to him.
"It's pretty strict requirements being at the airport: no water features because of birds, height restrictions and a lot of red tape to go through," Cook said. "Then, all the hoops of dealing with the city, the FAA and Multnomah County as far as permitting."
The new headquarters will include the training facilities for technicians and the sales teams.
"Within this national headquarters will be a network operation center because that's where security is going, that's where we feel our growth will be," Cook said. "We'll probably end up employing a lot more Oregonians."
The Cascade Station location is prime for the security group because of its proximity to the airport and MAX stop.
"It's right by the Portland airport: we have a lot of customers or employees that either fly in to view our tech, or get trained with the new training center," Neu said. "Also, we are a national company: we're flying all over the U.S. so it actually helps us too — and we're right on the MAX line so a lot of our employees will take the MAX to work."
But it won't be all nose to the grindstone at the brand new office.
"One thing we think is pretty cool is that we're going to have a rooftop deck where we're going to have events — our banquet area, our 4 o'clock Friday area — where we can entertain folks and just have fun," Neu said. "Because we're in the service industry and our whole concept is taking care of customers — whether remotely or boots on the ground — we like to take a load off after a long week of firefighting, if you will. Four o'clock Fridays up on the rooftop deck should be fun."
Completion is slated for August 6, 2018.
By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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