From watchman to company CEO

Erick Okeyo

One of Nairobi’s leading security entrepreneurs says loans in Kenya are too expensive but he has found a ‘secure’ way of solving the problem: Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man.

“Interest rates are just too high. When Aliko Dangote was in Kenya a few months ago, he told me that he was going to set up a chain of banks in Kenya. Banks that would charge minimal interest rates on loans,” says Okeyo.

Okeyo’s journey to CEO has been remarkable. He started off his career as a security guard at Nile Perch Victoria in Kisumu and became a bouncer at Octopus Nightclub before joining G4S. He worked for two years with G4S and rose to the position of controller.

“I was in charge of the control room, handling all deployments and emergencies. I was then poached by Modern Security to be an assistant manager in Nakuru. Within one and a half years, I joined Patriotic Guards as a manager in charge of Nakuru Branch,” says Okeyo, who had then enrolled for a diploma in marketing.

Rewards of hard work

He worked for Patriotic Guards from 1997 to 2009, rising through the ranks to become the deputy chief executive officer in charge of operations.

“That’s when I quit to form my own security company,” says Okeyo who discloses that he is a member of the Institute of Directors in Kenya.

At 39, Erick Okeyo is now CEO of Bedrock Security Services, a firm that specialises in electronic security solutions, security guards, cash in transit and investigations. The company, established in 2009, is now a major player in the security industry having bagged clients like Orange Telkom, Mumias Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, Jaramogi University and Lake Victoria Water Services Board.

“We also offer our security services to a lot of upmarket residential clients,” says Okeyo, a father of three.

Before setting up Bedrock, Okeyo had been employed in several security companies.

Helping others grow

Interestingly, when he tendered his resignation letter, his secretary also quit and followed him.

“She joined me and is now the human resources manager at Bedrock. I encouraged her to get bachelor’s and masters degrees and she is a very competent HR manager,” Okeyo says.

“The tea girl at my former company also quit when I did, went to school and is now an assistant manager at bedrock. Three guards who quit with me are now branch managers. I believe in someone’s’ potential. All these guys had no degrees but they joined me, I encouraged them to go to school and they are all part of the Bedrock family,” says Okeyo.

Revealing that Bedrock in now the fourth largest private security firm in Kenya, Akeyo says, “Among the locally owned security firms, I can confidently say we are the largest, or second largest. Three of the largest security companies right now have chief executive officers who worked under me at one time or another.”

The former security guard now drives an E270 Avant-garde CDI Mercedes.