Interview with the commander of the largest fleet of security Trikkes in the United States
A large supermarket chain needs to partner with a top-notch security company, which in turn, needs efficient mobility solutions for its personnel patrolling the parking lots of said supermarkets.
For the San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B grocery store chain, that top-notch security company is Allied Universal Security Services, also based in San Antonio. H-E-B requires the highest available standards to secure their property, employees and most importantly, their customers. Several years ago, H-E-B and Allied teamed up to provide a unique, and much more effective method to patrol their store properties: some of Trikke Tech’s first electric Trikkes-turned security Trikkes. Now Allied manages the largest fleet of security Trikkes in the United States.
That’s 75 electric Trikkes patrolling the parking lots of H-E-B’s stores in over 150 communities across Texas. Picture it: security personnel standing tall on a swift and agile machine, afforded sweeping views of their surroundings, covering more territory on a vehicle that elicits “nothing but positive feedback from the public,” according to Mark Westman, director of operations at Allied.
When the opportunity arrived for Trikke to demonstrate the newer Trikke Defender, Allied was hesitant, says Westman, who calls the five-year experience with the original security Trikkes “mixed”:
“On the one hand, the original electric Trikkes improved both presence and coverage of large parking lots with a relatively good safety record for the operators. On the other hand, there was a constant need for service and replacement parts, especially since the units were not built for 24/7 patrolling duties.”
During that time, Trikke Tech’s development of security vehicles accelerated with the addition of new security models featuring suspension, all-wheel-drive and improved overall construction, according to Gildo Beleski, CEO of Trikke Tech, Inc.
“We created a new, heavy-duty platform with a professional-grade build,” recalls Beleski. He also gives credits to Westman and Allied for their role in influencing the newer specs and designs. “The cooperation between Trikke Tech and Allied has been important to the technical development of our vehicles. It helps us get a better understanding of the challenges of operation and maintenance.”
So how have the new Trikke Defenders worked out for Allied, and by extension, H-E-B, which had to approve of the units? To find out, we asked Mr. Westman, the aforementioned director of operations at Allied. As the manager of H-E-B’s portfolio, you might say he’s the commander of the fleet.
Q: How has the Trikke Defender improved the way you do your job?
Westman: The Defender has provided our security professionals with a superior platform to patrol designated areas of responsibility. As one stands on the Trikke, patrol officers have a better view of the area. The Trikke is also more visible than [patrol] carts and has numerous safety features that allow for a safer experience than a cart or bicycle.
It’s much easier to handle than a bike and is much more forgiving for the various physical conditioning levels of our security professionals. It’s also much less expensive to our clients, and easier to keep road-worthy. Also, when on the Trikke, one can cover much more ground, much faster than on foot or in a cart or car (because of better visuals).
Q: What are the three best features of the Trikke Defender?
Westman: Full suspension, digital and hydraulic operating systems, long battery life.
Q: What do your security professionals and the public think about the Trikkes?
Westman: I find that personnel who don’t “like” the Trikke are suffering from ego issues and nothing else. Those are very few and far between. Anyone who cannot ride it safely (during training) are moved to posts without Trikkes, and those who do like it “can’t live without it.” Nothing but 110% positive feedback from the public, who are fascinated by it. I have ridden both models on numerous occasions while working with our security professionals, and I have even had the public want to take ‘selfies’ with me on the Trikke.
Q: How does the Trikke compare to other options available?
Westman: There are no other options we could find that compare. Carts end up costing more in the long run and foster complacent patrol techniques, along with extremely poor visibility from a safety standpoint. Cars just don’t see carts. Bicycles require the need to pay even more attention to your surroundings, plus the need to maintain a high level of fitness to ride.
Q: What improvements would you suggest?
Westman: Weatherproofing for the electronic components below the battery, the motors and especially the controller on the handlebars.
Q: What advice would you give other businesses considering acquiring the Trikke Defender?
Westman: Develop a strong safety/training program. Ensure the operators are also responsible for daily basic care of the unit. (Trust me, we have 75, and getting market-wage personnel to take interest is a constant challenge). Have your staff trained for repairs. There’s nothing, other than a bent frame, that can’t be repaired in the field. That said, having a local, certified shop is a big plus. However, whether or not you get one or one hundred units, it’s best to have your own repair technicians. Trikke Tech is good about being available to help troubleshoot. It’s also good to have a crate of spare parts (and the tools you need) at the ready.
Q: How easy was learning to ride the electric Trikke? Is it enjoyable to ride?
Westman: If trained properly, the Trikke is very easy to learn, and like any other new vehicle, the more you ride, the more confidence you gain; the more confidence you gain, the more fun it is. I take the “office” Trikke to every post I visit when traveling the region, and ride with my security professionals. It helps instill confidence in the security professional, and the public, after 7 years of experience, just eat it up. It’s the perfect security patrol tool.
The Trikke Defender is part of Trikke Tech’s lineup of personal mobility vehicles for commercial and professional use and is expressly designed for patrolling applications related to law enforcement, emergency services, private security, event management and more.