June 28, 1999
Gene Samburg, Founder and President of Kastle Systems, was named the 1999 Master Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young LLP before 1,000 attendees at an honorary banquet held at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Tyson's Corner, VA on Thursday, June 24, 1999.
Samburg's company, Kastle Systems, provides electronic security systems and services to more than 1,200 commercial office buildings throughout the United States and Australia. Since founding his company in 1972, Samburg's pioneering innovations have defined the completely outsourced, turnkey approach to office building security.
"We've earned this prestigious award because of all of the people in this company who have made Kastle successful and contributed to Kastle's success. I make it a point of not hiring good people, rather great people, and they are the ones who really deserve this award," said a surprised and delighted Samburg. "We may be in the business of providing innovative security devices, but our success hinges upon people who perform all of the crucial steps necessary to ensure our customers receive the level of service they deserve."
Samburg's initial inspiration began almost three decades ago while he was managing the Washington, D.C. district office for Westinghouse, selling security products to the United States Secret Service. The agency had enlisted him to help design and install security systems for the White House, Camp David, San Clemente, Key Biscayne, and other key government facilities during the Nixon administration.
The Secret Service process began by first performing a "threat analysis," for which all key personnel gathered and listed every possible threat and all conceivable solutions. Then the perfect implementation was designed on paper to protect each and every vulnerable area. Finally, the agency went out into the world to find the products and devices from various vendors that would be incorporated into their all-encompassing plan. Samburg, at Westinghouse, was one such vendor.
When Samburg was approached by a Washington, D.C. building owner to create and operate an electronic security and monitoring system for a 12-story office building, he applied his experience with the Secret Service "threat analysis" technique and parlayed it into the creation of a complete security program for the building. Armed with his past experience, a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from Cornell University, two employees, and $44,000 borrowed from relatives, Mr. Samburg left Westinghouse and took the entrepreneurial plunge by starting Kastle Systems.
Kastle's first office was 500 square feet situated under a parking garage, which was bartered by the building owner for reduced security fees. Twenty seven years later, the 450-employee Kastle Systems occupies five full floors, and has captured 70 percent of the commercial office building market in the Washington, D.C. area. With offices in New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Houston; Dallas; Philadelphia and Sydney, Australia, Kastle now secures 256 million square feet in 1,225 buildings housing more than 30 million tenants, and administers over 1.4 million Kastle access cards. The company's recently introduced AccessAnywhere(tm) technology can now secure any building or tenant space in any location in the United States.
One of Samburg's best decisions was to focus on providing customers with a single, integrated security service, with the ongoing support to operate and administer it. Until the Kastle approach, office building security systems required the customer to run the system themselves.
Kastle's success has also translated into community success as well. Each year, Kastle employees participate in more than 20 charitable fund raising events resulting in tens of thousands of dollars raised each year for charitable causes. Additionally, Kastle contributes to the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes Foundation, American Cancer Society, Leukemia Association and many others.
For the past 27 years, Gene Samburg has led his team through the numerous challenges of a changing marketplace with innovation, integrity, creativity, trust, respect, and empowerment. His security service has saved buildings building owners and tenants millions of dollars, increased protection for to more than 30,000 companies, and transformed an entire industry. For these reasons and more, Gene Samburg was named the 1999 Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur Of The Year.