03 Nov Protecting What Matters Most: Meet Ken Thomas, ArchAngel Protective Services
Entering a market chock-full of competitors may have deterred some. Still, the founders of ArchAngel Protective Services knew that, unlike others, building a security company that paid attention to detail, not just billable hours, would prevail. Getting its start in 2009 as a part-time security training company, a year later, it became a full-service security firm offering armed and unarmed security officers, security training, and technology. Guided by faith and a deliberate set of core values, the company’s promise to watch over its most valuable assets, its people and clients, has catapulted the firm to success. At the helm is founder and CEO, Kenneth Thomas, who believes that every day is a gift from God and works diligently to honor Him through his service.
A native of Beaumont, Texas, Ken learned his work ethic from his father. “Hard work” and “living within your means” were principles by which the family lived, and he continues to practice those beliefs to this day. But it was during his 23-year tenure in the Navy that he saw firsthand the value of and opportunities in security work. “I worked security while I was a sailor and learned that there were some really good security companies and some really bad ones. And the things that made the good ones and bad ones, helped us decide what we wanted to do,” says Ken.
After retiring from the Navy as an officer, Ken spent 13 years in corporate America working in security. Again, he noticed a stark contrast between the companies that cared about their employees and customers and those who focused on procuring hours and profits. When founding ArchAngel, Ken knew he wanted to be of service and treat people with respect, and that became the framework for the core values that guide the company today.
In the first few years of operation, Ken and his wife worked seven days a week, with no pay or vacation time. He says he could have easily given up, but “God kicked him out of his comfort zone,” pushing him to rely on spiritual guidance and that “unquantifiable thing called grit.”
While looking to rent office space, Ken met Mildred Walters, who was then the Executive Director of the Nashville Business Incubation Center. What he thought would be a brief encounter, changed the trajectory of the business. Later, along with the guidance and accountability of Angela Cranes-Jones and NBIC programming, Ken began to acquire the knowledge needed to run a successful business.
“The typical entrepreneur thinks they are prepared to run a business because they have a thorough knowledge of their field. But the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is learning how to stay in business. NBIC helped me master the ins and outs of daily operations, taught me how to gain access to financial resources, and introduced me to a wide range of other business professionals who I still work with today.”
Ken is a graduate of The Nashville Business Incubation Center’s Mighty Oak program and currently serves as the incubator’s Entrepreneur in Residence. “NBIC provided me with the vision I needed to scale and is one of my highest recommendations to this day.”
Also beneficial to ArchAngel Protective Services has been its participation in the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program. “Contracting in the federal sector is one of the most challenging things that small businesses can do.” But their participation in the program, along with other SBA programs like Emerging Leaders, has benefited the company greatly. In 2019, 25% of revenue came from 8(a) opportunities. With two years left in the program, ArchAngel is working to build federal relationships, so after they graduate, those opportunities continue.
Looking ahead, ArchAngel Protective Services, whose name symbolizes strength and guardianship, is poised for growth. Services are rendered in five states and the company employs 182 people. That number is expected to increase to 200 by the end of 2020.
Ken founded ArchAngel with the intention of building a multigenerational company. “From our inception, we had three guiding principles. Honor God Through Our Service, Take Care of People Who Take Care of You, and Build Legacy. For generations to come, we want to continue to provide people with exceptional security service, helping them feel safe.”
So, he reminds himself daily that the journey is not over. He greets each new day with purpose, listens to the still small voice within, and strives to work for the greater good.