Tony Sahni is the Chief Executive Officer of Securex Agencies, one of the leading security firms in Kenya and the East African region. The company has offices in towns across Kenya and Uganda with footprints in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Founded in Kenya in 1970 as a family business, Securex specializes in technologically advanced security solutions, tailored to suit varying needs across all sectors.
The company was founded by Kishora Lal Sahni, Tony’s father. Tony joined the company’s ranks as a young man and has been responsible for its regional growth, establishing itself as a household name in the security industry.
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Here is his story as told by WoK.
Background & Education
Tony was born in Kenya and began his early education in the country. After the failed attempted coup on late President Daniel Moi’s regime in 1982, his family decided that it is better that he together with his four sisters pursue their education in the UK.
All his sisters got into professional careers and got married.
After completing his studies in the UK, Tony tried his hand in a number of businesses while in the European nation. Some of the businesses he did include; selling tea and coffee to hospitals, a manufacturing business that later collapsed, a trading company and also getting employed.
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“And I learned a lot. I mean, what I learned during those eight years in the UK, I probably
couldn’t have learned in university. There was hands-on experience and practical experience,” he told KCB Venture Magazine.
Despite all this effort and trying to make it abroad, Tony felt a connection to his father’s business and he decided to return to Kenya.
“My heart was always here. So I said to my dad, ‘You know what? Enough is enough. My sisters are married. I will come back.’ That’s how I came back home,” he says.
He started working at Securex but on the side, he ran his own businesses which included a hardware shop in Gikomba, acting as an agent for Bajaj, the Indian company, selling light bulbs. He also imported chocolates and ran an events organization company.
His businesses were not always successful and from the many failures, Tony learned important business lessons. All this time, something kept pulling him back to Securex.
“A couple of people came to me and said, ‘You know, why aren’t you looking at your own security business?’ That’s when I started focusing,” he recounted.
At Securex, he was a research and development man and a salesman rolled into one. Part of his assignment involved travelling to security exhibitions in the more developed parts of the world – New York, Taiwan, Shanghai – and seeing things he could bring back to Kenya. For sales, he went to downtown Nairobi, the neighbourhood of Gikomba, Kombo Munyiri Road, Kirinyaga Road, and River Road to sell security services.
“A lot of multinationals didn’t want to deal with these people, and we saw a gap. So we approached that market, and we scored. We grew very fast in that market,” he says.
Tony developed the company’s customer care division, ensuring that issues are responded to within two hours and resolved within 24 hours.
He also assumed the role of Chief Recruiter at Securex, personally interviewing and recruiting personnel interested in working for the company. He also made sure that his door was open and company employees were at liberty to come to him with any issue.
“It was a very disorganized way of doing it. There was no structure around it. But slowly, things just fell in place,” he recounted.
Tony credits the company’s growth to the focus on innovation, customer care and employee welfare. He also notes that his father was supportive of his ideas all steps of the way and always encouraged him when something did not work out as anticipated.
“He gave me a lot of guidance. He always told me what the pros and the cons were, and then he let me make my decisions. I’m not saying I made the right decisions,” he recalled.
He notes that his father always encouraged him to draw positives out of every failure.
Tony and his father grew the business together to what it is today. Despite the elder Sahni being 87 now and can no longer go to the office every working day, he’s still hands-on but doesn’t interfere with the business. He still visits the office about thrice a week.
“He doesn’t come and interfere with the decision-making. So we have a great relationship in the office. Sometimes we have arguments, but of this, we still enjoy whisky together,”
Tony’s wife and youngest son are also part of the business and help him the running of day to day activities. The son studied Electrical Engineering and later pursued a Masters in Counter-terrorism and Organized Crime.
The company currently employs over 7,000 guards.
Tony’s vision is for Securex is to have the company renowned more for offering security solutions, rather than deploying security guards to offices and buildings.
The company launched Rafiki, a range of affordable smart home products with security and lighting solutions. The typical Rafiki security kit is a box with an alarm system, door sensors, and a Closed Circuit Television system, with a mobile phone application to monitor it. It can be bought off their website and an individual can install it for themselves.
“My goal is to target the woman of the house who can go to work and check her phone and see what her maid is doing with the children. If the child opens the door, the mother knows
immediately. So she can actually know what’s happening in the house and she can focus on her work,” he explains.
He notes that security is slowly changing from having guards on front doors to remotely controlled security solutions.
“You will see a lot of technology coming in. Things like remote monitoring. People are going to use artificial intelligence. You will see cameras. So if you need 20 security officers, you’ll probably keep 10. But for the rest, you will use artificial intelligence, cameras, and electronic locks, with remote monitoring companies sitting and monitoring your site sitting in an office. So technology will play a big role, but people will never go,” he stated.
After over 50 years of operation, a company that began as a family business is now one of the largest security agencies in the region, with defined management structures.
“We’ve got a very good team of managers. You hold them responsible, give them decision-making powers and they work for you. They run the show for you,” he added.