It’s been 40 years since hugely successful local company Cleveland Security began its life in an Ayresome Street corner shop. Directors Christine Baker and Mike Bringloe share their pride in its ongoing accomplishments…
Middlesbrough’s Cleveland Security, specialists in residential and business security systems, has a lot to celebrate. The Cargo Fleet-based firm officially hit the big 4-0 in April.
Co-director Christine Baker admits to feeling sentimental about this milestone, particularly as the company has been part of her life since she was 17 and has been a constant through personal highs and lows.
The NSI-Gold and police approved company prides itself on having a loyal customer base which now exceeds 5,000, plus an impressive portfolio of corporate clients including Ramsdens, Psyche and Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland councils.
They employ a total of 12 people including four engineers, two apprentices and office staff and are justly proud of their name, which is synonymous with care, reliability and honesty.
Nurturing the company has been the life work of Christine who was there almost from the start of its humble beginnings.
“A really good friend of mine, Russ Grief, set up the business. He originally worked as an engineer for Gardiner Security who went into DIY and alarms and registered the company on April 8 1980. I’d met him when he fitted the alarm in the office where I was working at the time.
“Cleveland Security had their base in a shop on Ayresome Street, Middlesbrough, and when I was 21, I went to work there. We soon moved to Linthorpe Road where we had an upstairs office and a DIY shop selling alarms downstairs.
“I met my husband Steve, an engineer, when he came for an interview. Our first child was two when Russ decided to semi-retire, so Steve and I bought him out and took over the business.”
With a lot of hard work and dedication, the couple soon began to enjoy great success based on their ethos of employing security-checked, trustworthy engineers and the supply of professional, reliable security systems including intruder alarms and CCTV systems. They also welcomed two more children.
The future looked bright until, sadly, Steve passed away in 2003.
“I must admit that people at the time thought, ‘She’s now just a woman on her own, she will sell the company’,” says Christine. “But I thought, ‘Hell no! I’ve put so much effort and hard work into this, we will keep the business and Steve’s memory going!’
“I met Mike that same year. He had known both Steve and Russ and was well respected within the security industry. When he so kindly stepped in to give me a hand, I knew immediately it was the right fit. Mike became our business manager and later, co-director.”
“I found my feet straight away,” admits Mike. “I’d worked the Teesside and surrounding area for a long time with Securicor, Lander Alarms and ADT. I know all the councils, architects and electrical contractors, so I didn’t have to knock on any doors, instead they all followed me, which built on top of the original business and it’s still the same today, 17 years later.”
Having a male and a female as co-directors works really well for Mike and Christine in what is arguably a male-dominated industry.
“I’d say it’s harder for me – I’m the only man in the office and they pick on me,” jokes Mike.
As for Christine, she admits: “I’ve had to bite my tongue over the years when people ring and ask for my boss. I gently reply, ‘If you mean Mike, my business partner…’ but it really doesn’t bother me anymore.
“I don’t go out and meet our clients, as Mike does, so I don’t get to build relationships that way, it’s usually just over the phone. It doesn’t matter who people think is in charge though, as long as we’re both working for the good of the company.
“Saying that, being able to shout about our success in Tees Business hopefully means people will get to see me and know who I am.”
These days, Cleveland Security continues to flourish, but it remains at heart a family firm. Christine’s daughter Sarah is in charge of accounts and sister Susan works in the office alongside Christine and Jordan, but each member of staff becomes a surrogate family member.
“There’s no magic formula involved in being a good employer,” says Mike.
“It’s just about looking after your staff. Our engineers have good vehicles, all the tools they require, smart uniforms. Their vehicles are replaced every three to four years and whenever there are any changes to the systems we will ask the manufacturers to come in and train them on the new technology.
“Added to that we do offer job security, which probably explains why we have engineers like Lee, who has been with us for 20 years.”
As for the customer, Mike agrees they are always the priority.
“We have a name people can trust because we’ve been here such a long time and we are so well established.
“We’ve seen other businesses come and go but we are still thriving because we put our clients first. We’re straightforward and we don’t mislead anyone.
“We offer our clients an annual insurance cover on their systems, which covers engineer call outs, parts and labour and a service visit,” adds Christine.
“We are extremely busy in the office taking payments and booking appointments when the renewals are received. We give excellent value and it’s great to know that we have so many satisfied customers. Long may that continue.”