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Jefferson Security builds on family legacy

October 2, 2011
By LINDA HARRIS - Business Editor ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Karen D'Anniballe said her family never wanted to play the numbers game, particularly when it came to their security business.

Begun by their father, the late Robert D'Anniballe Sr. in 1972, it historically had been a strong performer in the D'Anniballe family of businesses. But, faced with an ever-changing regulatory landscape as well as security concerns, they knew their customers needed a service provider who not only understood the risks but also was committed to helping manage those risks. And to do that, the D'Anniballe children knew they'd need to refocus business strategies, segment services and expand their operational structure.

"Dad had worked his whole life, he'd been in business a long time and he'd been very, very committed to his community," she said. "He loved it here. He could have taken his business and his expertise and gone anywhere, but he had a true love of this community. He loved it here. That's a huge legacy, and for us it's personal."

Article Photos

SHIFTING GEARS — Jefferson Security Service provides clients with a holistic approach to security solutions. Founded by the late Robert D’Anniballe Sr. in 1972, the company currently operates in Ohio and West Virginia and is in the process of securing its Pennsylvania license.
-- Linda Harris

D'Anniballe and her siblings realized status quo wasn't an option. "We knew a lot of changes had to be made, that we had to rebrand our organization."

They refocused Jefferson Security's business strategy to emphasize quality rather than volume, choosing to measure its success in terms of their ability to provide customized, holistic solutions that helped clients not only understand security risks, but also manage them.

"The security industry traditionally was a volume industry, based on hours sold," she said. "We decided we didn't want to be part of a volume strategy because it doesn't look at risks, it doesn't look at managing those risks. We decided to define success by providing holistic solutions to the right clients in the right industries. The right clients are clients who understand and are as committed to risk management as we are. We can't help them manage their risk if they're not committed to risk management as a practice."

D'Anniballe said they wanted to capitalize on their reputation for assessing and managing client risk through strategic planning as well as the ability to execute that strategy on a daily basis, so they segmented the business into:

They've also expanded their operational structure to provide additional oversight for client sites, as well as training for their personnel in the field, and are licensed in Ohio and West Virginia. The firm is in the process of securing licensing in Pennsylvania.

"Our clients have remained our clients for a long time," D'Anniballe said. "Some of them have been with us 20, 25 years, but it's so much more complex today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. As we grew up with our clients, we saw security needs changing, so in 2005, we made a departure in how the business was set up and modeled."

Other changes included the type and look of the vehicles they use, uniforms and a new look for their website. And though they'd been operating in West Virginia since 1982, D'Anniballe said they opened an office in Weirton.

"But probably the biggest change is we're not playing the volume game," she said. "Not that it's a bad strategy for other companies, but it's not what we see as a sustainable business model moving forward. It's about who we serve and how we serve them. It's not that we don't want growth, but we don't want growth at any cost. For us, it's about us having the right clients, clients who are as committed to risk management as we are."

Today, she said Jefferson Security "is positioned very, very well to meet ever-changing security needs in today's environment," as are its sister companies - Ambulance Service, Checker Transportation and D'Anniballe Realty, all of them founded by the D'Anniballe patriarch before his death in 2005.

"I think my dad would be incredibly proud of our continued commitment to the businesses he started and to the community, too," she said. "He never believed in just taking from the community - he believed that with being in business came an obligation to serve the communities in which we operate."

(Harris can be contacted at

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