Those who were living in the Ireland of the mid-1970s will have mixed memories. Like many countries, Ireland was dealing with the fallout from the oil crisis which devastated economies and brought hardship to families. On the domestic front, the so-called Troubles in Northern Ireland were at their worst. After some major progress and a sort of coming of age in the 60s, the country seemed to be going backwards and many of its young were leaving. It was a world away from the glossy, tech-centred, vibrant, and multicultural country we see today. There were however people who had a vision. And one of those was an ex-army captain named Karl Dunleavy.
Karl left the Defence Forces in 1969 to start what would become Provincial Security Services.
The company’s first headquarters were simple. A room at the end of the family’s home was sufficient to begin with and when the company’s first contract was signed with the ESB at Turlough Hill, the small team included Karl himself, his father and some former army colleagues.
By the time he hired his first permanent office employee, Bernadette Mulvany, there were sixteen security officers with the firm.
Bernadette, more popularly as Ber, joined in 1977 and has remained with the company ever since. She still remembers making her way to that first day at work by bike.
“I actually got the bike on hire purchase when I was told I got the job,” she recalls. “I parked the bike up against the end of the house and went into this tiny office. It was a filing cabinet, a typewriter, a phone, a desk, and a chair. That was it.”
From these humble beginnings, the company grew to become a well-respected local operator. New contracts for Tegral in Athy and Black and Decker in Kildare Town meant more administration and more office staff. After ten years working from the Dunleavy family home, Provincial moved to offices in Newbridge.
As Ireland dragged its way through the 1980s and into the economic dawn of the next decade, Provincial’s experience and location meant it was uniquely positioned to offer the influx of foreign multinationals, the modern security offering they expected. When Intel set up its Leixlip campus in 1989, Provincial was awarded the contract.
Similar contracts followed with companies such as Hewlett Packard, Polaroid, and Wyeth bringing the company’s expertise in security to their new operations in Ireland. Provincial became the first Manned Guarding company in the country to get ISO certification. The pursuit of excellence and quality would become integral to the company’s culture.
Current COO Stephen McDermott joined the company in 1995 and was soon joined by Karl’s son, Robert, who was appointed Managing Director in 2007.
Though he was still at the heart of the business, Captain Karl was forced to take on less onerous tasks due to ill health. He was there to cut the ribbon on the company’s new premises in Market Square Kilcullen when it moved in 2009.
When he died peacefully, surrounded by his family, in 2013, Karl left behind a proud legacy. That legacy is honoured by everyone who adorns the Provincial logo today and helps it maintain those professional standards.
Over the last ten years, Provincial has broadened its offering. While the company has modernised using technology, data and the best in state-of-the-art security systems to enhance its already highly-professional approach to security, the focus remains on people. Something that both its clients and its four-hundred-and-twenty-plus employees can attest to.