Fast lane Featured

11:38am EDT September 22, 2003
More than 40,000 people are injured each year in vehicle collisions along temporary work zones across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In 2001, 1,079 people lost their lives in these areas.

But since Akron-based Mid-American Security Inc. launched its traffic control division, Area Wide Protective, in 1993, there has not been a single accident or injury in one of its work zones after more than 4 million hours of traffic control.

"There's more than luck to it," says Mid-American Security President and CEO William Fink. "We've elevated a bit of an abused occupation to a level where it gains the respect it deserves."

Before Fink purchased the company in 1992, he ran a private commercial insurance agency which covered Mid-American Security.

"It was a nice, small local business," Fink says. "Nothing spectacular in terms of growth, just a nice, little, well-run business doing contract security guards, primarily for businesses and institutions in the Akron area."

Fink sold his agency in 1990, and was a consultant for two years before the previous owner of Mid-American offered to sell the business. Fink had followed the deregulation and downsizing of utility companies and recognized their need for outside traffic control services.

"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have a journeyman lineman at his level of pay and experience flagging (traffic) when his education and resources should be brought to bear to turn the electricity on," Fink says. "There is too much going on for local police to handle all of that. We met a price point where that was a very competitive thing to do."

Today, Area Wide Protective employs 350 traffic control officers or flaggers in eight states working for the largest utility companies in the country, including FirstEnergy, SBC, Dominion, Columbia Gas and American Electric Power.

"Our people, day-in and day-out, direct more traffic than most police officers do," Fink says. "We have a lot more experience with this than most people would have."

On the security side, Area Wide guards Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Akron Children's Hospital, Summit County Children Services Board and the 27,000-acre Ravenna Arsenal. How to reach: Mid-American Security Inc., (330) 644-0655