Spokane Journal of Business

Kodiak is feeling secure as it starts its third decade

Security company employs 150 during peak periods

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-—Kevin Blocker
Kodiak Security owner Nancy Connors says the company currently has 50 active contracts, an all-time high. Its operations are based in the Vista Business Park, in Spokane Valley.

Nancy Connors still periodically laughs at herself when she thinks about the fact that not only does she own a security business, but she’s been running it for just a little more than 20 years now.

Connors says she’s quiet and shy by nature and never thought she’d one day run her own business, let alone a security operation.

“In high school, I was a mouse. I didn’t talk to many people, minded my own business, and stayed out of everybody’s way. There’s no way you could’ve ever told me that one day I’d be the owner of a security firm,” she says.

Connors formed Spokane Valley-based Kodiak Security Services Inc. in 1996. 

The company operates in 3,000 square feet of space in a suite in the Vista Business Park, at 111 N. Vista. The number of employees working for Kodiak varies depending on the time of year, she says.

Kodiak normally employs 30 to 50 security guards. However, the company’s workforce can reach as high as 150 at peak times, Connors says. She security demands increase most during the summer months due to more outdoor events. 

Only a handful of employees use Kodiak’s office space on a regular basis. Connors, a human resources worker, a bookkeeper, and an information-technology worker share the office space, she says. Kodiak provides armed guards, alarm responses, standing guards for crowd control at events such as concerts, and vehicle patrols. Kodiak operates a fleet of half dozen four-wheel drive vehicles.

The company has the ability to offer 24-hour service for its customers. Connors, who declines to reveal the company’s annual earnings, says Kodiak currently has 50 active contracts, an all-time high for the company.

Most of the company’s revenue comes from providing unarmed guards, but it recently has seen growth for its armed security services, she says.

“Business continues to grow. Despite changes in the industry—mostly as it relates to technology—the one thing that remains constant is that people are still people and want free stuff,” Connors says, referring to thieves. 

Construction companies that need to protect equipment at their headquarters, or at construction sites, during nonworking hours are among some of the most common businesses that hire Kodiak for security.

“Business in Spokane is continuing to grow, and property crimes are growing right along with it,” Connors says.

“I still scratch my head that there are people who’d rather risk their lives trying to pull copper out of a hot power pole in a parking lot than actually look for work,” she says.

Two of Kodiak’s largest current contracts involve providing security at Spokane International Airport on the West Plains and at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center, at 404 N. Havana, Connors says.

At the airport, after the last flights of the day have concluded and the Transportation Security Administration has left the airport, Kodiak security guards arrive to relieve TSA staff until they return, Connors says.

In October 2015, Kodiak began providing additional assistance at the airport, providing security by monitoring parking lots and other areas surrounding the airport. Kodiak staff members also assist travelers needing help with ground transportation upon their arrival to Spokane, Connors says.

“That extra work came about because the airport’s administration is making sure the flying public is accommodated at all points wherever they’re going,” she says.

Connors says Kodiak’s armed guards at the airport are averaging a combined 56 hours per day there.

At the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center, Kodiak security guards provide 24-hour security year-round.

“The height of our staffing at the fairgrounds comes during the annual fair. That’s probably our busiest time of the year,” she says. “I love doing the fair; it’s such a challenge.”

Connors says it’s not uncommon for her to have to solicit extra security workers using Craigslist and word-of-mouth advertising by current Kodiak employees.

Connors, who is 68, says her husband, Neil Connors, a retired police officer who once worked at Spokane International Airport, urged her to start the business.

Neil Connors and some of his fellow police officers worked second jobs providing security at the big DAA Northwest auto auction facility at 2215 S. Hayford on the West Plains, just west of the airport.

“It was a very common second job for police officers,” she says.

However, her husband’s employer implemented new rules restricting where airport police officers could work as security guards to make additional income, Nancy Connors recalls.

“He came home one day and said, ‘You need to start this (security) business,’’’ she says. Starting a licensed security detail then enabled Neil Connors to operate as an independent contract security guard without the ties to his job as an airport police officer, she says.

“The business was me and four other people working out of the basement of our home,” says Connors, who lives with her husband on land north of Airway Heights.

“We did work for Stevens County and Spokane County for those first couple of years,” she says. “But by the third year, things really started to pick up.”

An increase in contract work led to Connors having to secure a larger office space in Airway Heights where the company was based for eight years. She then relocated to office space in Spokane before moving to Vista Business Park three years ago.

She says the demand for security services now is higher than it’s ever been in the Spokane area.

“Law enforcement works for everybody. We work for specific clients,” Connors says. “They are stretched thin and just can’t be everywhere.”

Originally from Hutchinson, Minn., Connors moved here 41 years ago to pursue a master’s degree in education at Eastern Washington University, with the desire to teach.

“I was in Montana—Bozeman—for a while, and then ended up here. There was always something in me that wanted to go west,” she says.

The Connorses have three adult children, and Nancy says none of them has expressed a desire to one day take over the business. But she says she has no desire to turn it over anyway.

“Running a business takes a different breed of person. This really is all my husband’s fault,” Connors says with a laugh.

 Kevin Blocker
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Reporter Kevin Blocker, a University of Colorado alum, is a rec league basketball addict. At age 47, he still sports a 32-inch vertical leap. He has three children, all of whom are hooked on hoops.

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