After business owners called family and friends on Sept. 11, they called Peter Miragliotta to see what, if anything, he could do to make their buildings and their employees safe from terrorism.
But the phones at Tenable Protective Services quieted just as quickly as they had started ringing. Victim benefit concerts, the overthrow of the Taliban, Enron and Chandra Levy distracted those who months ago frantically called Miragliotta for help.
"The effects of 9-11 made us rethink for our clients all kinds of security situations," says CEO Miragliotta. "But Americans, as you know from elections, have very short memories. We're traditionally only as good as the evening news."
Despite the recession that followed the terrorist attacks, companies couldn't cut security as they planned their 2002 budgets. Miragliotta, who weathered recessions in the 1980s and '90s, says there's usually a 10 percent to 20 percent drop in sales during an economic downturn. That was not the case this year.
"Security is like a doughnut hole. You know it exists but you don't see it," he says. "But this year we held our own. Our first quarter we were actually a couple points ahead of last year."
By the end of 2001, Miragliotta had opened an office in St. Petersburg, Fla., added 300 employees and increased sales by more than 10 percent from the previous year. Founded in 1994, Tenable's sales have grown by 178 percent in the last five years and has added offices Toledo and Detroit.
But Miragliotta remains focused on the future of the company, which he says is faced with a funding challenge.
"Tenable has always been undercapitalized, and because we've had such rapid growth, it's finally caught up with us," he says. "We've found a bank that will give us a little bit of breathing room with credit lines and some of our debt."
Miragliotta says he's in negotiations with several venture capital firms to help fund Tenable's expansion.
"We're looking at an acquisition and we're putting together a business plan," he says. "And because of 9-11, the consulting has gone up, so we're going to continue to keep pushing that. That division is still in its infancy, and I haven't found the right mix of personnel and marketing to get that off the ground." How to reach: Tenable Protective Services, (216) 361-0002