Story of the Early Days of SECOM 11−20 (1966−1969)
11. SP Alarm hits the market
In May 1966, Japan’s first on-line security system, SP Alarm, was introduced to the market. The first remote monitoring device had been developed, and sales activities commenced immediately. The first customer was a branch of a bank at Tokyo Ikebukuro.
On June 20th, the first day of commissioning, Iida gave instructions to 4 staff, We will start on-line security services from now on. One of you will monitor the system. The rest of you will stand by and respond to any emergencies when it happens. When the red lamp here goes on, it “means something has happened to the customer, so you have to respond immediately.” The team was ready.
12. The first SP Alarm customer
ASP Alarm was introduced to the market in May 1966. Sales activities were first focused on banks. There were high hopes that if a major bank became a customer, it would create a chain reaction to other banks. It was then that Ikebukuro Branch was robbed, and a night duty staff was injured. In those days, it was standard operating procedure to have a night duty employee at branches, so that the bank could respond to customers anytime. SECOM approached the branch manager.
“It was 1966, when the bank was robbed. The night duty staff was injured. The incident became top news in the papers. That was when we seriously thought about the (SECOM) system. In those days the night duty shift was universally accepted standard procedure and it was tough to convince headquarters. Finally I pointed out that having a night shift itself is dangerous, and that did the work. The decision was made to try SP Alarm for one year as a pilot case. Since the night duty staff was injured, I was very worried lest the second incident happened and I was dead serious. I even went to Iida san and asked him to explain. But finally it paid off because there were no more incidents during that year”. Soon after, on 20th June, the first SP Alarm was commissioned.
13.“Shasho Wo Mamoru Kai”
It was the year 1966, the year when SP Alarm was introduced in the market, when a string of scandals hit SECOM. Employees were caught stealing and the company’s future was jeopardized. Iida was gravely concerned and realized that it was important that every single employee share the same mentality, the same mission, and in 1967 started what was nicknamed “Shasho Wo Mamoru Kai”, or, regular meetings among management and staff. These meetings were held for more than a year.
Teams of a few dozen were organized to have an overnight training session. The sessions were scheduled once a week, sometimes twice, in total more than 50 sessions were completed. It was through these sessions that SECOM’s fundamental philosophies, such as “Challenging for changes” “Challenging the stereotype” “Pursuing dignity”, were born. It became an opportunity to create a more solid organization, as well as a start to form the corporate culture.
14.Another TV Drama Series on air
In autumn 1966, a string of scandals where employees were caught stealing casted heavy responsibility on Iida to re-establish the lost trust. Nevertheless, Iida never stopped any sales and marketing efforts because he believed “offense is the best defense”. Iida then created “Shasho Wo Mamoru Kai”, an opportunity for frank discussions between management and staff, to make a more solid organization.
In September SECOM was awarded the first cash-in-transit contract from a major financial institute in Nagoya. The armored vehicle in use was of original design. The very first Group company was also established, Nihon Keibi Hosho Mie (now known as Secom Mie Co., Ltd.).
In the May of following year, Nihon Keibi Hosho Joshinetsu (now known as “Secom Joshinetsu Co., Ltd.”) was established in Niigata. Due to the rapid growth of the business, head office was moved to Kikuchi Building 2nd Floor, 3-4-6 Nihonbashi Motoishi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. While the Board of Directors’ office and the Administration Department moved to Kikuchi Building, Sales Administration Department and Tokyo Operations Department expanded their office on the 7th and 8th floor at Kurosawa Building. Further, SECOM became a member of the International Security Association called “Ligue Internationale Des Societes De Surveillance” and made its debut in the international arena, as the leading security company in Japan.
15. Another TV Drama Series on air
“The Guardman” is a well known example of SECOM becoming a role model in a TV series, but one should not forget that SECOM also appeared on an edition in “Atsumi Kiyoshi No Naite Tamaruka”, starring Kiyoshi Atsumi, most famous for his role in “Tora-san”.
It was aired on April 2nd 1967, with the title “I’m also a Guardman” (translated from the Japanese original title). SECOM wholeheartedly cooperated by lending real uniforms and vehicles that were actually in use. The company name and badge appeared on TV too. In “The Guardman” the actual duties were slightly different from reality, but in this event actual duties were shown as is.
What was unique in this series is that famous actor Kiyoshi Atsumi played the role of different professionals in each series, and each series had different Directors and actors, all first class each time. Master film maker Junya Sato was appointed for “I’m also a Guardman”, who directed mega-hits “Ningen No Shomei”, “Uemura Naomi Monogatari” and “Tonko”, later in his career.
16. Iida delivers first message in the 5th Anniversary edition of in-house newsletter
An 8 page in-house newsletter called “Warera Keimushi” was published. After several editions, in March 1969, it was renamed “Mamori”, and then in January 1980 again renamed “Secomity”, the name which continues even today. In the 5th Anniversary Edition, Iida’s message, the oldest available on records, was delivered to all employees and their families. The following is an extract.
“Nihon Keibi Hosho started as the very first security business in Japan. Often people will misunderstand us as a gatekeeper, but we are totally different. We are providing professional high-skilled security services to the society, equipped with latest scientific gadgets on behalf of the customer, carrying out the duty to prevent crimes and fires before they happen. The public expectation from us is getting higher day by day because our contributions are valuable to them. On this 5th Anniversary today, we have more than a thousand employees, over a hundred and fifty vehicles, making it impracticable for other in industry to catch on. Besides our headquarters in Tokyo, there are branches and group companies in Sapporo, Niigata, Chiba, Yokohama, Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Mie, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Kitakyushu. We are now truly a nationwide organization. We have come this far after five years of hardship and tremendous efforts put in by all of you. Started with only five persons, this organization has grown to one hundred and fifty in the third year, four hundred in the fourth, and now here we are. Even I am surprised at this rapid growth.”
17. SP Alarm contributes to the arrest of “Serial Killer 108” (1)
Throughout the history of SECOM, the incident which happened in 1969 is still by far the most famous one involving an arrest of a criminal. SP Alarm, now in its fourth year, had contributed to the arrest of a serial killer (called “Serial Killer 108”) which in turn promoted the effectiveness of an on-line security system in the nation. Here is what happened.
It was April 7th, 1:20am. Tokyo Regional Control Center received an intrusion signal from Hitotsubashi School of Business, a SP Alarm customer located at Sendagaya Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Toshimi Nakatani, attached to Mobile Patrol Squad Tokyo Region, responded immediately according to instructions from the Control Center, and found out that the intruder was still inside the premises, during perimeter checks. Before he entered the building, he carefully asked a passer-by to call the police. Upon entering the premises, he found the office ransacked.
Nakatani flashed his torchlight across the counter, and suddenly came across a man crouched to the floor, so he approached carefully and asked the man for his identification. Suddenly, without warning, the man raised a pistol and fired while Nakatani managed to strike the suspect’s hand just in time. According to Nakatani, he felt a small pain on his cheek at that exact moment, only to find out later that it was a light gunshot wound. Reinforcement officer arrived shortly after and the two fought with the suspect. Eventually the suspect managed to escape in the darkness towards Meiji Jingu direction.
The police were put on high alert and after merely forty minutes, at 4:27am, the suspect was apprehended and finally arrested. The suspect was a nineteen year old boy who had fatally shot 4 innocent people in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakodate, and Nagoya since October the previous year. He was one of most wanted suspects in Japan, and the SP Alarm had played a vital role in apprehending him.
18. SP Alarm contributes to the arrest of “Serial Killer 108” (2)
Early next morning, after receiving reports that Nakatani had a non-lethal gunshot wound, Iida could not stop himself telling Nakatani and Sasaki when the three met, to “take it easy”. This incident was top news in all major newspapers on the morning of April 8th, and a full detailed explanation of SP Alarm appeared in the community section with the title “Secret Weapon notifies authorities”. From that day phones never stopped ringing.
On April 12th, Nakatani, Sasaki and the Tokyo Regional Control Center received a special award from the hands of Iida for their contributions. After the ceremony Nakatani said, “I never realized this would become such big news. After receiving this prestigious award, I feel deeply honored and am more than happy with what I did”.
On September 21st the same year, SECOM received the Golden Award from the International Security Association (Ligue Internationale Des Societes De Surveillance), being voted unanimously, at the General Assembly.
19. Company Song and Anthem is created
The company song and anthem was inaugurated on 7th July 1969. At that juncture, there were more than three thousand employees. The aim was to have a song which should reflect motives and raise morale of employees.
Hachiro Sato, well known for his literature for children, wrote the lyrics. He had written the lyrics of “Ringo no uta”, the mega hit which actually represented post war Japan in those days. “Chiisai Aki Mitsuketa”, the famous nursery rhyme, is also a creation of Sato. Hideaki Yashima would be the composer. The company’s anthem was loved by many until its current version was created in 1984. The first verse anthem is as follows (translation):
In the rain after darkness
In the snow at daylight
We carry our duties with pride and courage
With spirit to give with all our strength
We will shine We will shine
Nihon Keibi Hosho
20. Head Office moved for 5th time to Sankaido Building
A month after the “Serial Killer 108” incident, on May 19th, head office was moved to 1st Floor Sankaido Building, 1-9-13 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Sankaido Building was located in the city center, close to the Embassy of the United States and Hotel Okura, geographically convenient due to transportation availability. Until it was moved to Shinjuku Nomura Building 9 years later, many employees who had been with SECOM since its establishment would have assimilated many fond memories of those years. Sankaido Building in Akasaka would be the 5th re-location in 7 years.
In addition, the first recreation facility named “Izu Nagaoka Ryo” was launched in April. “Nihon Keibi Hosho Social Insurance Fund” (now “Secom Social Insurance Fund”) was established in July, and in April of the following year “Nihon Keibi Hosho Pension Fund” (now “Secom Pension Fund”) was established. The foundation of SECOM was being steadily fortified.