The flight to Altoona – Blair County Airport was full of discussion. The type of sales presentation that we did at Lewisburg was a first for Marcy and Lorrie. They spent almost the whole flight discussing the presentation and how they could improve it. I listened for most of the flight without offering an opinion.
I interrupted the conversation to remind them that the presentation was multipart. “The complete presentation could not be choreographed. It has to be broken down into individual segments. First was the research that Cindy had done that gave us a starting place,” I said.
“The next was the site tour. It allowed me to look for soft spots that were potential trouble spots. Those determined where we needed cameras and how many from what angle, fixed or sweeping the area. That also determines how we map out the foot patrol for after hours and how often the spot is visited by the uniform. Does he walk by it once or uses it as a cross point at random intervals? You cannot allow the patrol to be stop watched,” I added.
“Someone planning a serious intrusion into the secure space watches for a routine to know they have 5, 10 or whatever minutes not to be seen by real eyes, assuming the camera operator is snoozing or disable the camera,” I said.
“Once all that is completed you have the framework for your presentation. The three of you read and interpreted all the notes we put on Cindy’s maps very well. You may not have known why I wanted a particular type of camera at that spot. That will come with time,” I said.
“To run the PowerPoint with everything we can offer sets the tone that JBG Security can meet their expectations. That is the one area that we need to stay on top of with technology changing so fast,” I said.
“You remember the big open athletic fields at Frost Borough that we fretted so much over and requested those special expensive cameras, and will have to patrol with a four wheeler several times a day. Now for the price of one camera we can buy a dozen drones with cameras and get button quality video. A laptop, a game controller, sitting 100 feet in the parking lot and the operator can see much more. In ten minutes the entire grounds can be covered several times, looked at by several people and recorded to the servers for prosperity,” I said. “Can you imagine sending the feed from the drone to a big screen on the office wall?”
“The last part is putting your plan out there. Then you look them in the eyes and basically ask, this is our plan, do you want more? This is what we recommend. And then selling them the plan,” I said.
That started another review of the discussions and the process that lasted until we landed at Blair County. Again we had to rent a car from our competitors; we did have several sites in Pennsylvania, but none at this airport.
We found our motel with no problem. This time Mark had a room all to himself. Marcy, Lorrie and I had a room with two king size beds. We went to supper as a group before calling it an evening. Marcy, Lorrie and I made the usual video conference call home for updates. I do not know if Mark partied.
The girls and I spent a while looking over the maps we were going to use tomorrow and doing a little research.
The three of us snuggled into one bed for some tender fun before sleep.
A bright sun made its presence known early. After a round of touch and feel and good mornings we made our way to the free breakfast. To my surprise there was plenty and had a variety of fruits, cereals, eggs, bacon, waffles and sausage.
I glanced through the local paper while I was eating and enjoying the better than average coffee. Altoona was the tenth largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of 50 thousand. Ninety percent of Blair County’s one hundred and fifty thousand people lived within a five mile circle of Altoona.
Altoona was started as a railroad town and in its peak, more than 15 thousand worked for the railroad. Today that number was down to less than 500 and they worked in the maintenance yard doing mostly emergency repairs on trains passing through. According to the article, engines were assembled and rebuilt in the shops during its hey-day. The other major industry was coal mines. The mines in the area were deep mines; labor intensive. The high cost of labor and the environmental attack on coal was the double hit on the local economy.
The city was trying to revitalize itself by making the change from dirty industry to retail, management and tourism. A lot of the old majestic and historic buildings downtown had been saved. Many others – the wrecking ball destroyed.
For the hard working middle and near retirement aged, making the transition into the new workforce was nearly impossible. They had gone from time established, good paying and good benefits jobs to starting over at the bottom.
That is where the Altoona Blair County College retraining programs came into existence. Why they were placed on the college grounds is anyone’s mystery. There were two distinct groups of people competing for the same jobs. The traditional college students had spent years mastering technology and the people in the retraining classes spending all their lives avoiding it.
We finished breakfast and drove to the college to take the unguided tour before we met with the board. Driving through the miles of abandoned industrial buildings to get there was depressing. I could only imagine how some that had lived through the prosperity to living in the now must have felt.
The first thing I noticed at the college was a fleet of street sweepers making the rounds on every street and road. There were automatic sprinklers washing the black coal dust and ash from the walkways and building entrances. I came to realize that the mountains surrounding the area were manmade from the tailings and discarded rock coming from the deep mines. This was another huge added cost to living in this area – just keeping things clean.
We had two hours before our meeting to look around and work on our plans. Even though the college was out for traditional students the college was a hum of activity. The retraining group was a continuous cycle of middle aged and older students.
In the student center I picked up brochures with the class schedules and courses that were funded and available, and there were a lot. There were counselors there and they talked freely with us. At first they thought we were looking to enroll. When they found out that we were a security company they really opened up about the problems and were hoping for improvements.
I listened to stories about robberies, assaults, rapes and drug problems. The number of cars broken into in the parking lots was staggering. The culprits were from the outside and were rarely students. They felt the students made easy targets because both groups of students were funded by Mom and Dad or by the government with unemployment checks and assistance for training.
The group of college employees and students telling their story had grown to a couple of dozen. They all personally knew someone who had been a victim of petty crimes and worse.
We made our way to the administration building where our meeting was to be held. We stopped at the building that had the Security Department sign on the post. What we found there was awful for the problems that were here, a small office with two desks.
A poster on the door said it all. “If you are a victim of any petty crime call 911.We only handle student to student issues.”
That sign made all students easy targets. I could understand why the local police took longer and longer to show up for a complaint and simply shoved them into a file. If the college does not care, why should they.
We had a lot of notes on paper and on the maps and 30 minutes to make major changes to our presentation. The manpower needs here were many times more than anywhere we had been. It was going to take a real effort to correct the problem.
I called Cindy and Jenny on a conference call. I wanted information, a lot of it and quick. This was different than all the rest.
Edit by Alfmeister