Surging government and corporate attention to security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks helped send sales surging for MVM Inc., a comprehensive security and staffing company based in Tysons Corner, Virginia. But it has been some strategic moves in the years since then that have helped the company sustain those gains.
Formed in 1979 by Dario O. Marquez Jr., and two other former Secret Service agents, the company now employs more than 4,000 people and is owned 100 percent by Mr. Marquez, who says 95 percent of its business is government-related.
Clients include multinational corporations, U.S. and foreign government agencies, and private institutions. This year, MVM ranks No. 29 on the Hispanic Business 500 list with 2003 revenues of more than $164 million.
"There [now] is a sense that not only our government but corporate America needs to take [security] seriously," says Mr. Marquez, a New Jersey native of Puerto Rican descent. "[Companies] have a fiduciary duty to employees and shareholders to make sure good security precautions are in place."
Proof of the emphasis on security can be seen in MVM's revenues. The company had 2000 annual revenues of $52 million. In the first quarter of 2001, revenues totaled $14.4 million; second-quarter revenues were $12.6 million; third-quarter revenues, which included several weeks after the attacks, reached $17 million.
Fourth-quarter revenues? $31 million, raising MVM's annual revenues to $75 million in 2001, up 44 percent from the previous year. And revenues continued to climb the following year, jumping 92 percent to $144 million. Last year, revenues jumped another 13.8 percent to $164 million. Mr. Marquez says 2004 revenues should reach $180 million or more, an increase of approximately 10 percent.
He says the growth is not merely the result of the increased attention to security, but the fact that MVM increased efforts to sell its services to U.S. government agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of Justice. The company also had hired the former head of the U.S. Marshals Service, two former Drug Enforcement Agency officials, and a former high-ranking official at the U.S. Postal Service.
"Suddenly these entities exploded with need," he says. "No question about it, MVM was very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time with the right infrastructure," he says. As for the future, Mr. Marquez believes security will continue to be a top priority at the government and, to a lesser extent, the corporate level. He also believes technology will play an increasingly important role in security, and that more emphasis will need to be placed on the integration of the human element with technology.
That attention to the human element is a trend taking root in companies across the entire service industry, which includes companies in fields ranging from security and advertising to car repair. Experts say companies are putting a renewed emphasis on offering superior customer service to differentiate themselves from a growing number of competitors, and to lure increasingly demanding consumers. More and more, companies are using every tool at their disposal - follow-up surveys, live-chat online services, improved technical support, and satellite tracking of service vehicles - to enhance the overall customer experience.
"We look at it from a people point of view," Mr. Marquez says. "The core of any security program is people - how people react, how people prepare, and how people prepare countermeasures."
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