Jenell Jackson is taking the sudden spike in business one day at a time.
As chief executive officer of Silver Shield Security, she’s managing the latest wave of customers looking for alarm systems and ready to patronize Black-owned businesses — including some customers who recently canceled contracts with regional behemoth CPI Security.
Businesses and homeowners were searching for a new service provider after controversial comments made by CPI Security CEO Ken Gill went public regarding police brutality against Black people.
“I got 100 appointments in two days,” Jackson told QCity Metro. “We got about five people from CPI who want to come sell for us.”
Her ex-husband originally launched the company in Atlanta and left it to his family after his death. Jackson established the Charlotte operation in 2012 and worked it as a side job to her full-time gig as an account executive at Windstream Communications.
“My kids were running the business in Atlanta, and I lived in Charlotte. I wanted to see what I could do to get into this business so I could keep his legacy going,” she explained.
She emptied her savings and cashed in her 401(k) to hit the ground running. To build a customer base and establish a competitive advantage, Jackson offered free equipment without a credit check or contract.
“All I was doing was catching the crumbs, which was fine with me because I was learning my way,” she said. “I used all of that to compete with CPI because I felt like if I did my part and kept my word, people would come to me.”
Silver Shield grew slowly, picking up residential and commercial customers throughout the state. In 2017, after retiring from Windstream, Jackson went full-time as an entrepreneur in the male-dominated security solutions industry. She now employs a five-person sales team, three technicians and an answering service that staffs a call center.
Following the CPI fallout, there were noticeably more requests on social media from people searching for Black-owned security companies. Customers raved about Silver Shield within the Black Business Owners of Charlotte’s 18,000-member Facebook group.
The praise, the influx of new customers, Jackson takes none of it lightly. She wants to see support continue for Black-owned businesses.
“I hope it isn’t a trend, but even if it is a trend, the one thing that I’m gonna get out of this is that people know now, they know I’m here.”
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