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Exploring our legacy: A journey into Securitas' 90 years

In exploring Securitas' past, I've unearthed a legacy of innovation, persistence, and people centricity. Learn more about what inspired and surprised me.

7 min read

I've had the unique privilege of interviewing dozens of people and digging through hundreds of pages of historical texts to unearth Securitas' legacy. On this journey to celebrate our 90th anniversary, I never expected to feel so deeply connected to our history.

Together with my colleague Hugo, we've spent countless hours piecing together stories of bravery, entrepreneurship, innovation, and persistence – the results of which can be found in the chapters of our journey. But, more than these milestones, I want to share a glimpse into what it was like to experience this adventure.

So many stories, so little time

There’s no limit to how many interesting stories one can find about a company that has been around for nine decades and has employed millions of people over that time span. The stories about Securitas are plentiful – with each one as inspiring as the next, ranging from our humble beginnings to our global growth and all the innovations in between.

One of the first interviews we did was with 87-year-old Björn Gysell, whose name we discovered on a list of Securitas’ patents. Responsible for more than 20 patents related to security technology during the 1970s, we knew Björn would have plenty to say about his time with the company.

His vivid stories about some truly unique assignments – such as blowing up bank vaults in the middle of Stockholm to develop and test security solutions – were fascinating. I was amazed by the warmth and respect with which he spoke about Securitas; his excitement was infectious!

The interview with Björn was only the beginning. Each person we interviewed led to another and another – there was no shortage of folks lining up to share their own perspectives about what made (and still makes) Securitas so special.

We even had to begin increasing our allotted time for interviews, realizing that a mere 60 minutes was never enough time to cover all the interesting anecdotes.

While each story was unique, all interviews had one thing in common: They always left us with a big smile and strong sense of pride. Everyone we spoke to expressed immense pride over their years at Securitas. This enthusiasm is what I hope comes across in the chapters of our history.

Dusty books, rich history

Another key source of information was The National Library in Stockholm. This beautiful old library in downtown Stockholm keeps a copy of all domestic printed material, making it a goldmine of information. There, we found the first edition of Securitas founder Erik Philip-Sörensen’s book Code of Conduct for Officers from 1958.

And we got lost in the early issues of the employee magazine “Väktaren” (“The Officer ”) from the mid-1940s, which always featured a list of what – at the time – were considered noteworthy events, such as:

  • “September 18, 1944. Officer R. 2. The door to the factory was open. It was closed and locked.”
  • “March 7, 1962. Officer Ka 28. Burnt matches and marks of cigarette butts on the floor of the paint shop indicated that smoking was taking place in the painters' materials room, which is strictly forbidden as it contains flammable substances.”

A particularly special detail with the library is that at the entrance, two Securitas officers help visitors find their way in the building. It turns out that one of the officers has worked for Securitas for 42 years! At each visit, we chatted for a while, and one time I got to see the belt she received with her first uniform her first day of work. The belt has lost its color but has the patina of a great leather belt. And she is still wearing it to this day!

A legacy of innovation and client centricity

Today, discussions about artificial intelligence (AI) and cutting-edge technology in the security industry might seem novel and groundbreaking, but our history shows otherwise. At Securitas, the intersection of security and technology has been a recurring theme since the 1940s.

As early as 1948, Erik, together with the police and insurance companies, discussed innovative responses to rising crime rates, which led to the founding of our first technology division. These conversations – and more accurately, the approach to combining technology and human expertise to enhance security – have been an integral part of our business strategy for decades.

This approach continued with the introduction of automated access control systems like Securi-Coll in the 1960s and the development of the world’s first connected ATM. These milestones, among many others, illustrate how Securitas has consistently integrated new technologies into its services, proving that blending technology with traditional guarding is an ongoing evolution, not a new phenomenon.

One of Securitas’ true differentiators is its legacy of innovation and pushing the envelope, which I believe has positioned Securitas to take full advantage of advancements in AI, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and other technologies that augment security.

To be honest, much of what we discovered surprised me. I had no clue that we were already incorporating technology into our services right after WWII. I learned that this was driven by the needs of one of our clients, the Swedish Postal Service, which required innovative solutions to ensure consistent service across its geographically dispersed network.

This client-centered approach of the 1940s not only addressed immediate needs but also set the stage for our international expansion in the 1980s, which was primarily driven by our commitment to adapting to and following our clients' evolving needs.

People – the cornerstone of every endeavor

The story of Securitas is one of tenacity.

Our entrepreneurial spirit is beautifully exemplified by Dick Seger, who tirelessly packed boxes in the morning and made sales calls in the afternoon to build the success of Securitas Alarm, our home alarm company.

Melker Schörling's determination demonstrated such persistence; despite resistance from within the organization, he pushed for the integration of new technology , convinced it was the only way to stay ahead in the industry.

Helga Zimmerman's resourcefulness in the early days was akin to a modern-day startup employee, multitasking as cashier, bookkeeper, alarm operator, and service counter manager, all while managing accounting books on her lap due to the lack of desks.

And when the overall business trend in the '80s was to extend portfolios beyond the core offering, leadership dared to focus only on security. This resulted in a lesson that still rings true today: Sometimes, it’s not only about what to do but what not to do.

Learning about all these amazing stories of innovation and human ingenuity over the decades, one clear theme emerges: people have always been at center – the cornerstone of every endeavor.

Pause for a moment and explore our journey

How can understanding a company's past inspire an appreciation for its evolution and progress? From this project I have learned that while businesses are often recognized for current achievements, a company’s legacy and experience form the foundation for all its present innovations and wins.

After spending quite some time looking back at the first 90 years, I feel prouder than ever to work for Securitas. Our legacy of adeptly embracing new technologies is inspiring me to be part of our journey toward a more digital and connected future. More than that, I’m grateful to work for a company so deeply rooted in continuous improvement and people-oriented principles. I hope that more people will find confidence in knowing that we, for nine decades, have defined this industry and practically perfected the ability to see around corners.

I encourage you to explore Securitas’ remarkable history. If you have a few extra minutes between shifts or meetings, take some time to learn about the first use of the four-digit PIN, how a meeting in 1958 shaped today’s purpose and how a CEO by mistake used a permanent marker and drew an indelible reminder of always moving onward and upward.

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