Norfolk-based security firm opens office in Winchester

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Husband-and-wife team, Chris and Nicole Stuart,
started Top Guard Security in 1996.
Courtesy Top Guard Security/Facebook

Top Guard Security opened a Winchester office in August to serve a major new client.

The move represents the latest expansion by the Norfolk-based private security firm, which also has offices in Richmond and Hampton.

The Winchester office serves Valley Health, a regional health-care system that operates six hospitals in Virginia and West Virginia, including Winchester Medical Center. Top Guard has more than 45 employees serving all six locations. Valley Health began looking for another security firm when a national company purchased the vendor it had been using.

“There are international and national players in our industry that are consuming other companies, and that has presented tremendous opportunities for our firm,” says Top Guard Vice President Chris Stuart. “People that come to us want good service.”

Top Guard already was working with a client in the Front Royal area before being contacted by Valley Health. Now that the Winchester office has been established, the company is talking with several other potential clients in the area.

The company was founded in Hampton in 1996 by Chris Stuart and his wife, Nicole. Since then it  has grown to more than 950 employees. Ninety-five percent of them are uniformed security guards at client locations.

“We have two or three more contracts coming up in the next couple of months, and I won’t be surprised if we pierce 1,000 employees,” says Nicole Stuart, the company’s president.

She says the company built its name on attention to detail and customized service. Those principles “naturally lead to growth. What we are doing has proven successful year after year.”

The company’s growth spurt began after 9/11. “That was the singular moment that defined our business,” says Chris Stuart. “Starting on Sept. 18, 2001 we became the security provider for the Norfolk World Trade Center. It was a tremendous statement to neighboring buildings and properties.”

In 2004 the company picked up Norfolk’s municipal security contract, and four years later it began serving Tidewater Community College. “We have had 115 to 120 individuals at Tidewater’s seven locations since 2008,” Nicole Stuart says.

The company maintains its contracts by “exceeding expectations. That’s our special sauce,” says Chris Stuart. “In our commercial market, we have 20-year-plus clients. Our state, local and federal contracts go to bid every five years. We are on our third contract terms with both the city of Norfolk and Tidewater Community College.”

The Stuarts say Top Guard makes it a point to recruit veterans and now has more than 450 on staff. The company received the Virginia Values Veterans Governor’s Award last year for the largest number of veterans hired by a single company in 2016.

“We are fortunate to work with veterans. They come with great training,” says Nicole Stuart.

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