By identifying potential problems before they arise, we have been able to empower schools and their administrators to improve safety as a result.
Matt Antkowiak is a decorated military and law enforcement veteran with nearly 30 years of experience. Since his time serving communities in and around Dallas, Texas, Mr. Antkowiak has developed a reputation for expertise in school and business operational safety. He has successfully launched three separate private security firms. Matt is the co-founder of Tier 1 Investigations & Protection, LLC, a full-service security analysis and strategic security planning firm licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Matt first enlisted in the United States Army, serving as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division and later as a military police officer with the Division. He was commissioned into the officer ranks as a Lieutenant and completed numerous global deployments as an Army officer and enlisted soldier. After separating from the military, he worked with the Oklahoma City Fire Department in several roles, including firefighter and rescue technician. He entered the law enforcement field, quickly developing mastery in investigations, tactical operations, and field officer training protocols. Matt eventually served as the Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Oak Ridge, Texas.
Mr. Antkowiak is a recognized and court-certified expert in police procedures and police use of force. With over 6000 hours of professional training and certification, his experience in security considerations is unrivaled. As a business leader and security consulting expert, Matt’s security firm has achieved high levels of success, conducting numerous safety and security audits as well as developing emergency operations plans for public and private schools in cities throughout the United States.
Where did the idea for Tier 1 come from?
I have always endeavored to do two things in business: First, to change the industry for the better. Second, to help change the lives of my partners, employees and customers. With so much focus on school security in recent news, and too many tragedies that could have been avoided, I knew we had to do our part to improve the situation. Tier 1 has given me the platform to change how school security is defined and implemented.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I invest my personal and professional time in teaching and interacting with students and academics while striving to better define the laws that surround policing and private security. Each day differs, but most of them involve early meetings and strategy sessions, then instruction on-site or in classroom environments. Our company focuses on analyzing security threats, then developing comprehensive solutions to improve safety for our clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By executing well discussed ideas aimed at the greater good and protection of our students. Our company has amassed a strong team of professionals, each bringing unique insights into the picture. By sharing ideas and continuing to learn and to train, we are able to take those ideas and implement them.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One exciting trend is one that we are starting, actually – the trend to better educate and train school resource officers. Tier 1 trains its officers to recognize childhood trauma/PTSD and to address it in cooperation with teachers and administrators. By identifying potential problems before they arise, we have been able to empower schools and their administrators to improve safety as a result.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Endeavoring to earn respect by giving it. This works with both students and adults. Working 16 hours a day doesn’t hurt either. Entrepreneurs need to understand that the success or failure of a business hinges on one’s ability to put in the hard work when it is needed. After several business launches, I know that there’s no getting around long hours and intense work to make the company succeed.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Working at a commercial automotive lube center. While the work was difficult, it did teach me valuable life lessons that I would apply to future business ventures. It taught me humility and that getting the job done sometimes requires getting dirty.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started working on school security and prevention of school-related violence at an earlier date. With what we know now and what we have developed in terms of identifying potential school threats and safety standards, I know we could have made a positive difference. At least now our company has that chance.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Train. Train. Train. Being prepared is of paramount importance. Training and continual education go hand-in-hand. One should never stop learning and practicing one’s craft, no matter what that craft is.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A strategy I have employed in business launches is the concept of partnerships. I believe in partnering with like-minded individuals who value spiritual success above material success. If we can form a team that values what we do and works hard to do it, material success tends to fall in place on its own.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A failure I have experienced was relegating too much responsibility to partners who were not personally invested in spiritual success – partners that may have focused on the financial aspects over the core values of the company and what we stand for. Overcoming such failures requires partnering with like-minded individuals who value what we do and want to see it succeed from a deeply personal/spiritual level.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Security is a multifaceted affair. Medical emergencies are more common than those that involve violence or threats thereof. Be sure that you offer true and confidential security.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Training on student mentoring. Student mentorships have been shown to invest students in their own futures, and can head off potential problems before they arise. We believe that these mentorship programs can form a valuable component in school environments, improving relationships between students, between administrators, and fostering a school-wide culture of success.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
TLO – a research database developed by TransUnion. It is extremely expensive but also extremely comprehensive with regard to background searches, including social media searches, vehicle sightings, and employment-based information. It is commonly used in skip tracing and investigative applications.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One of the very best books I’ve read in recent years was “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook” by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. The book was written by two child psychiatrists and details their personal experiences in counseling children. The book carefully and heartfully explains childhood trauma, PTSD and, most importantly, effective therapies for overcoming trauma.
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