Coming to America
In 1982, the Craigheads decided to go east—quite a distance east—to the West Coast of the United States. After sharing a house in Los Angeles with their pastors from Hong Kong, Craighead started to look for work. “I went to an ASIS Los Angeles Chapter meeting because I’d bumped into someone who told me about it. As you walked through the door, you got a raffle ticket for a door prize. Well, I won, and the prize had a fellow’s business card attached to it,” he recalls. “I called him up that afternoon and thanked him and asked ‘By the way, do you have jobs available?’ He said there was something, and I was told to come in for an interview. So, I went for the interview the next day, and two nights later I was running around in a patrol vehicle as a field supervisor inspecting accounts! So it was ASIS that led to my first job here.”
In his position as district manager with Pedus Security Services, which he remained in until late 1987, Craighead learned a great deal about the contract security business. He worked for a former Los Angeles County Sheriff, Fred Dickey, and the president of the company, Timothy Gilmore, CPP, who encouraged employees to earn ASIS’s Certified Protection Professional® (CPP) designation. The managers were told that if they studied for the CPP and took the written examination, the Protection of Assets Manual, exam fee, and other costs would be covered. In addition, he says, “If you passed, you got an increase in salary. So, I studied and I got the CPP just under a year later…. I received a $100 monthly increase in salary.”
On high. While Craighead was studying for the CPP, his company’s client, the 62-story First Interstate Tower (now the Aon Center), lost its security director. Located in Los Angeles, the tower was at that time the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Craighead interviewed for the position, even though he had no extensive experience in high rises. The property manager who interviewed him was a tough New Yorker who seemed impressed when Craighead said, “I will tell you what you need to know, and I will never lie to you.” Pedus Security Services was quickly notified of Craighead’s selection. “I think it was that honesty thing,” Craighead reflects. “He wanted someone he could trust.”
After starting in his position at the tower, Craighead often wished there was a manual on how to run a security and fire-life-safety program in the high-rise environment, because no guidebooks existed in the mid-1980s. “I started dissecting the building and learning how all the systems worked. And I started keeping files,” he states.
One of the issues at First Interstate Tower was that it did not possess a sprinkler system. These systems were not required in Los Angeles’ office towers in 1973, the year the building was completed. In May 1988, years after Craighead left the tower, a massive fire destroyed five floors, killed an engineer who was investigating the incident using an elevator, and injured 40 others. The high rise suffered more than $50 million in damages.
“It was a really big incident here,” he says, and ultimately led to changes in the way buildings were operated in Los Angeles, including immediate notification of the fire department when an incident occurs, certification of fire-life-safety consultants working at high-rise buildings, and formal approval of building emergency plans.
By the time of the fire, Craighead was working for American Protective Services, eventually becoming a regional manager for contract security operations in Southern California, reporting to a retired police captain, Sam D’Amico, and a retired U.S. Marine Corps General, Art Bloomer. (In 1999, the company was purchased by Securitas.) Craighead had joined that company in 1987 and was still with it in February 1993 when the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed by Islamic terrorists. “It was a watershed event in high-rise security,” he says, and it made him think, once again, about writing a book.