Putting new ideas to work

Defense Point CEO implemented benefits offered by other award-winning companies

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Defense Point Security employee
Lakia Peyton enjoys a massage
chair at its headquarters.
Photo by Mark Rhodes

When Defense Point Security CEO George McKenzie attended last year’s Best Places to Work in Virginia ceremony, he walked away with an award and several new ideas.

During the event he heard other company executives talking about the benefits of establishing walking paths for employees. He took that idea to heart when his company moved its headquarters to a new 3,500-square-foot office in Old Town Alexandria along the waterfront.

Employees now have access to parks, grassy areas and walking paths. 

“We also purchased a massage chair,” he says, noting he heard about that benefit at last year’s luncheon as well. “We thought that was an interesting idea. We bought one and put it in the break room. People love it.”

That innovative approach to employee relations helped Defense Point become the top small company on the Best Places list for two years in a row.

Last year was another solid year for the Alexandria-based cybersecurity firm. It won not only its first but also its second government prime contract. Previously, the majority of its work involved the company serving as a subcontractor.

The company’s services range from security engineering to incident response. A specialty is digital media analysis (computer forensics), which provides timely information that can help determine whether a security incident has occurred.

Defense Point is continuing its subcontractor contracts with the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services as well as the Department of Homeland Security. Last May it opened an operation in Chandler, Ariz., to support immigration and customs enforcement.

The majority of the company’s nearly 100 employees are located on customer sites. Twenty employees are housed in the new operation in Chandler.

The company ranked No. 745 on the 2014 Inc 5,000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. “It was our first time being on the list,” says McKenzie.

He believes that Defense Point is able to attract top talent because of its attractive benefits package. The company pays 100 percent of the premium for medical insurance for employees and their families. “Through negotiating with our health-care broker we have been able to maintain 100 percent medical premiums,” McKenzie says, noting the recent rise in health-care costs, which are “going through the roof.”

The company has a “community-first” outlook with regard to its employees. “We are big on healthy community members,” McKenzie says. “If we can help them maintain their medical coverage, they will be more loyal to us and better active members of the Defense Point community.”

The company additionally provides an in-house gym and access to its computer lab area, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Defense Point continues its Shield Award program, where an employee is recognized for outstanding performance each quarter, as well as its fellows program for its technical leaders and subject-matter experts. The program covers many different areas of cybersecurity. “One of our directors also created a study group for Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), the most well-known cybersecurity certification,” McKenzie says. “We developed an online video series that he and other members of the study group put together.”

The company also has created Capture the Flag, a game on Defense Point’s website with practical cybersecurity exercises. Players gain points for each question answered correctly. “Anyone can log in and play. The goal is to bring up education so more people understand the threat,” McKenzie says.

Defense Point’s corporate culture emphasizes teamwork even though employees work in different locations. Employees get together once a quarter for events. Last year the company held a golf event in Alexandria, for example, that included miniature golf and a family barbecue. “In Arizona, we did something similar,” McKenzie says. 

The company will often fly several employees out to Arizona to attend events and also fly employees in Arizona to Alexandria. “We go back and forth to perpetuate the vibe,” McKenzie says. “As we grow and have geographically dispersed employees we want to make them feel like they are part of the company. They need to see the faces of leadership. They need to know there is a company behind them that is there to help them.”

Best Places to Work 2015 list of small employers

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