With nearly two decades of law enforcement experience under his belt, Terry Edwards says his security company Ascension Protective Services LLC had really simple beginnings.
“We started out on my kitchen table,” he says of his growing 5-year-old business venture started in 2015 with his wife, Angela.
At launch, the lone company vehicle was an old Ford Crown Victoria with 300,000 miles on it. The fleet has since expanded to 12 cars, including Ford Explorers and Dodge Chargers. But the couple remains loyal to their Crown Vic, still running at 433,000 miles.
“We speak very kind of her,” Angela says. “She may not be the prettiest, but she runs.”
Ascension Protective Services’ headquarters has grown, too, as the couple first left the kitchen to set up shop on West College Street before last year landing in bigger space at 2627 W. Republic Road, Ste. A100.
With 65 employees now, the company provides security for home, business and personal protection. Terry says the services have expanded in recent years, including fugitive recovery, missing person searches and security consulting.
However, Ascension’s bread and butter remains property patrol for residences and businesses, as well as stationary security officers. It’s roughly 90% of the company’s work, the couple estimates.
“I don’t want to stretch ourselves too thin in areas, as that’s when you really start to run into problems,” he says.
It took about a month to land the firm’s first client. It was Gregg Stancer, who owns several investment properties in Springfield and Nixa.
Stancer says Ascension provides nightly security for storage facilities Elite Storage LLC and Eastway Storage LLC, as well as multifamily residential properties Golden Park Townhomes and Sun Villa Townhomes.
“They are our eyes and ears during the evening, nighttime and early morning hours,” Stancer says, declining to disclose costs for Ascension’s services. “It’s a very small part of our budget. However, we feel like the return on our investment is quite high.”
The work also has meant keeping an eye on the construction sites for Golden Park and Sun Villa, while those properties have been developed in recent years.
“It gives a sense of security to not only owner-operators, but also tenants and occupants at these places,” Stancer says.
Today, the client count has reached around 30, Terry says, noting several are entertainment venues in Branson. However, he says client confidentiality prohibits him from naming most of them.
The employee total also has been on the rise to an all-time high this year. A lot of work right now involves patrolling clients’ property to protect from break-ins or vandalism.
“When you can put 65-70 people to work, that’s a good thing,” Terry says.
The expanded workforce has been the result of a bump in revenue. The company grew roughly 50% in 2019, he says, declining to disclose revenue figures.
The couple acknowledges the coronavirus will impact the 2020 bottom line. They’re not adding clients and employees until the crisis passes.
“Once this stops, we’ll get right back at it,” Terry says, declining to discuss the threat of layoffs. “That’s all you can do. Our country is having a real problem to get through right now.”
Some of their clients are not operating amid the virus pandemic, but Angela says work for their company continues.
“We have to protect businesses out there that have been closed,” she says, adding keeping their clients’ property safe is vital at this time.
A change of pace
Terry says transitioning from his three-year security guard job at the city of Springfield’s Busch Municipal Building to start Ascension was a logical move. People probably wouldn’t say that about the couple’s prior ownership venture: running an indoor football team.
From 2002-12, the Edwardses were co-owners of the Springfield WolfPack, a football team affiliated with the American Professional Football League. Terry says he used to play eight-man football and wanted to own a team in Springfield.
In that time, they say average attendance got to around 1,000 people at the Jordan Valley Ice Park, where the team played its home games. But the venue size was limiting, Angela says, and the city wouldn’t allow beer sales.
“We could fit only 1,100 people in there. We had nowhere to grow,” she says. “It made it really hard financially.”
The couple decided to walk away in 2012, the same year the league folded.
Terry says it was a good run, but adds he was hungry to get back into law enforcement. He previously served as a deputy in Ohio, and locally in Marshfield for the Webster County Sheriff’s Office.
“I really love wearing my badge, and I didn’t want to go back to a sheriff’s department or police department,” he says.
Law enforcement is in Terry’s DNA, as he says five other family members are in the industry.
That makes his work with Ascension not only a job but also a passion.
“Once you do it, if you truly love doing it, it will always be in your blood,” Terry says.
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